Game Developers Turn Negative Reviews Around with Continuous Improvement
One popular saying goes, “After losing a cow, you fix the barn,” implying that it’s futile to try and fix something after it has already gone wrong. In the gaming industry, however, late responses can sometimes have a positive impact. Case in point: the game “No Man’s Sky” developed by Hello Games in 2016. This highly anticipated game allowed players to explore an expansive universe without limitations, but upon its release, it fell short of expectations and received scathing reviews, with many features promised by the developers missing from the final version.
However, Hello Games didn’t give up. Starting in 2017, the developers began releasing major updates and patches, leading to significant improvements in the game. The release of the “NEXT” update in 2018 marked a turning point, garnering rave reviews and transforming “No Man’s Sky” into a completely different game. Steam user reviews have since become predominantly positive, making it a prime example of a successful game improvement journey.
Another notable example is CD Projekt Red’s “Cyberpunk 2077,” an open-world game set in the futuristic Night City. Despite high expectations fueled by the success of CD Projekt Red’s previous game, “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” the release of “Cyberpunk 2077” in 2020 was marred by optimization issues and numerous bugs. The game fell short of meeting expectations and faced scrutiny even from the Polish government, which had invested in its development.
However, CD Projekt Red didn’t rest on its laurels. Through a series of updates and patches, particularly the 1.5 version released in February 2022, the game has undergone significant improvements, garnering praise from both players and critics alike. With the upcoming release of Patch 2.0 and the introduction of the “Phantom Liberty” expansion pack, CD Projekt Red aims to further enhance the game and regain the trust of players.
Domestically, the PC game “Eternal Return” by Nimble Neuron, released in July, offers a similar redemption story. Initially gaining popularity during its early access phase in 2020, the game faced criticism due to ongoing balance issues, leading to a drop in concurrent users. However, the developers took immediate action, implementing various improvements in the officially released version.
With the introduction of new features, such as a revamped tutorial system and expanded squad options, “Eternal Return” saw a remarkable 400% increase in concurrent users on Steam since its official launch. The game now boasts positive results and continues to garner praise from players as it enters its second phase of evaluation.
These examples highlight the power of continuous improvement in the gaming industry. Developers who are committed to addressing player feedback and delivering timely updates can successfully turn negative reviews into positive ones, ultimately creating a better gaming experience for all.
There is an old saying, ‘After losing a cow, you fix the barn.’ This means that there is no use in trying your hand after something has already gone wrong. ‘Postmortem medicine visit’ has a similar meaning, referring to the use of medicine after death, and refers to the folly of acting too late.
However, a late response is not always meaningless. In particular, in the game market, after users leave, the game is developed through various patches and improvements, and often receives positive reviews again.
The most representative example is ‘No Man’s Sky’, released by Hello Games in 2016. This game depicts the fun of exploring the vast universe, and has been highly anticipated by gamers before its release. The game was so huge that the map could contain a single galaxy, and the number of star systems users could theoretically encounter exceeded trillions to billions.
Users expected to be able to enjoy a journey through this vast universe, from the depths of space to the surface of the planet, without loading screens or limitations, and they thought they would be able to write their own actions through almost infinite space travel.
However, when the game was released in 2016, it received harsh reviews. Most of the content that Hello Games had revealed was not implemented, and battleships and multiplayer, which were leaked before release, did not exist in the game. There was almost everything in the game that could disappoint gamers, including an extremely pointless ending. The game received overwhelmingly negative reviews on Steam.
Although many users were disappointed and left, developer Hello Games promised to continue improving the game and has released large-scale updates every year since 2017. In particular, there have been major changes in the game since the ‘NEXT’ update introduced in 2018, and has received such positive reviews that users have said that it has almost become a different game.
Hello Games has been continuously updating the game since 2023, and Steam user reviews have generally reached a positive level. In addition, the disappointment of Bethesda’s recently released space game, ‘Starfield’, was reflected, and conversely, ‘No Man’s Sky’ attracted attention, becoming a representative example of game improvement.
CD Projekt Red’s ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is also an example of a game that raised its poor evaluation at the beginning of its launch through continuous improvement. The game is an open world game that takes place in 2077 in Night City, a megacity obsessed with power, luxury and body modification. Users can play the game as mercenary V and solve problems using various methods such as hacking, firearms, and body modification using cyberware.
Due to the global success of CD Projekt Red’s previous work, ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’, there was considerable anticipation for ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, and through a later report, pre-orders before release were reported to have reached around 8 million copies. This is indeed a huge number. When the game was released at the end of 2020, there were so many users that the Steam servers went down for a moment, and the number of concurrent users on the first day exceeded 1 million.
However, the console version, like PS4, was not able to enjoy the game properly after its release due to severe optimization problems, and the PC version, which was better, suffered from various bugs. Despite the game’s release being delayed three times, the game was ultimately evaluated as not meeting expectations. In particular, this game is one in which the Polish government also invests, so we are facing an unprecedented situation where a Polish government agency intervenes to monitor the patch situation.
Since then, CD Projekt Red has continued to improve the game. Through patch 1.5 released in February 2022, next generation devices such as PS5 are supported and the game has improved in many areas. Subsequently, the Netflix animation ‘Cyberpunk: Edge Runner’ received favorable reviews and was evaluated as better than before through patch 1.6, which was released at the same time.
CD Projekt Red does not stop there, but plans to reveal various changes through Patch 2.0, a large-scale update to ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ on September 21st, and to introduce ‘Phantom Liberty’, a large-scale expansion pack, on the 26th. . This time, attention is focused on whether it will be able to get good reviews from users.
There are similar cases among domestic games. The main character is the PC game ‘Eternal Return’, which was officially released on July 20th and is gaining popularity. ‘Eternal Return’ is a quarter-scene battle royale genre game developed by Neptune subsidiary Nimble Neuron. It follows the farming method and game play method of the existing battle royale game ‘Black Survival’ and introduces a MOBA genre control method to make it easy to enjoy.
The game started early access in October 2020 and gained a lot of attention as word of mouth started to spread through internet streams. The fun of creating item farming paths, item crafting, and competing attracted users to ‘Eternal Return.’ In November 2020, the number of concurrent users exceeded 50,000, and since then, working with Kakao Games, the number of concurrent users has been maintained close to 10,000.
However, users were dissatisfied with the game’s ongoing balance issues, and users exploded with skill-boosting patches, nearly crashing the game. The number of concurrent users, which once exceeded 50,000, has become difficult to maintain even 1/10th of. Accordingly, the developer announced plans to improve the game in the officially released version through emergency meetings.
In the official release version, solo and duo modes were temporarily removed and only squads were implemented to help beginner players easily adapt to the game, and the number of squad members was increased to 24 people in 8 teams instead of 18 in 6 teams. Additionally, the area size has been increased by 15%, provides more time for early growth, and includes ‘Operator Nadja’, which gives advice based on progress, a ‘Tutorial System’ completely revamped, and ‘Coelcerth System’ which simplifies the food production process. .
‘Eternal Return’, which was officially launched in July amid major improvements and user concern, recorded an astonishing 400% increase in concurrent users on Steam since its official launch, and recorded positive results such as recording a peak number of concurrent users of 34,000 in the month of September. It is entering its second phase during evaluations.
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