Let’s say you are running a beta or trying to get feedback on your game. There is one question I always recommend my clients ask
“Would you recommend this game to a friend?”
It sounds very simple, but it is one of the best ways to get an honest assessment about how much someone actually cares about your game.
The “would you recommend this game” question is a standard in the world of product management. It is called the Net Promoter Score.
The proper way to ask the question is
“On a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (very), how likely are you to recommend this game to a friend?”
Then provide a multiple choice selection of 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
Here is how it typically looks in a form:
When you get the answer back you will look something like this
Or like this
My favorite part of the responses though is that you run it though his formula where you subtract the negatives (6-0) from the positives (10-9) and ignore the middle (8-7) to calculate a single number that gives you a stark single assessment of your game.
The math not making sense? Don’t worry, there are tons of free NPS calculators where you can enter in the survey responses and it will do it for you – my favorite NPS calculator is from Delighted.com.
Putting this data into that graph you find out that the top orange graph has an NPS of 8 the bottom one -17!
That is brutal right? How can you have a negative number?
Well, think about the last time you played a game that wasn’t that good and your friend asked you “Hey did you play <X>? I was thinking of picking it up.”
If your answer was “eeehhh, I would skip it, not good” that is a negative promoter score.
Be sure to ask an open ended follow up question: Why did you give the score that you did.
But wait this is dumb? When I rate something a 7 I mean it’s pretty good!
You might. But a wishy-washy answer like a 7 or 8 means you aren’t enthusiastic about it. You are just kinda blah. We want to capture people who wont shut up about your game. We want to see how many people shout about it on Reddit, buy plushies, get tattoos of the characters. Those are promoters. We need to save 9s and 10s for them. A 7 or 8 is not promoting.
Why not ask “Do you like my game?”
People are nice and they will lie to you. By moving the question to focus on a action that people who LOVE stuff do (recommend it to their friends) you capture a more accurate indicator of your game’s value.
Also, one of the primary ways that people hear about new games is from their friends. Many indies hope that their game will grow because of “Word of mouth.” Well “word of mouth” only happens when people are willing to recommend your game unequivocally (aka a rating of 9 or 10s not 7s and 8s.)
The NPS’s hard as nails scoring system is part of the reason why I love this question so much. It is brutal. It doesn’t sugar coat things. It doesn’t try to make you feel good about your game.
It is hard to get a good score because it is hard to sell a game.
I find too many teams try put a positive spin on obviously negative comments from players. But when you use NPS, you can’t spin a -17 into something good. You gotta face the honest truth.
So what is a good score?
A positive number is a good start.
You can also look at publicly available NPS scores from the site Customer.guru. Here are some I think are relevant to game development…
Sony has a 61 (Note this includes the whole company, not just PlayStation)
However, the most important thing is to track this number over the development of your game. With every major alpha, beta, pre-launch test ask the NPS question.
Ensure that your NPS is moving in the right direction after every subsequent test.
How do I get enough people to answer?
If you are a small time indie it can be hard to get the hundreds of people to answer your survey so that you can get a representative sample. It is definitely easier for midsize developers and publishers.
When you publish a beta or a demo, include a link to your survey on the main menu screen, the game over screen, they “Are you sure you want quit” menu, and when they get to the end of the demo.
If you didn’t include a link to the survey in your game, ask your Discord or Mailing List to complete the survey. Just ask “did you play the demo? Tell us what you thought in this short survey.”
If you want to hear more ways to get feedback on your game I would check out these other blog posts I wrote about them: