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By: Matthew Doucette
With the November 1st, 2010 Xbox LIVE Dashboard update, the game library lost the ability to rate games. You can delete and purchase a game, but not rate it. It is the default location you are brought to after quitting a game. The system is discouraging game rating, while we need to encourage it. Gamers have essentially stopped rating games, and this especially effects XBLIG with its large amount of new games. As a consequence, all the games since the update (in Canada) are currently unrated.
Please log in and vote for this bug fix in Microsoft Connect (accounts are free):
Note from Jason Doucette:
"The lack of ability to easily rate games makes the vote bots even more destructive. They continue to damage all highly rated games, it has not been stopped, and the damaging 1-star votes have not been rolled back, and Charles Cox from Microsoft stated that they cannot roll them back, which is silly. Of course they can be rolled back. The data is easy to analyze and see just how many 1-star votes were made. Just roll them back and take doubt on the side of the developers instead of the bots. This is not a difficult thing. It just requires attention and time, which costs, I know. But it's costing all of the best rated developers half of their sales. The first thing that can be done is to dilute the votes by allow the legitimate voters the ability to rate games easily -- which is the point of this ticket.
Additional Suggestion: Complete Freedom of Judgement Without Restriction / Let Gamers Vote Without Downloading Game:
It has been argued that only gamers who have downloaded and played the game should be allowed to rate the game. Some argue only those who buy it should be allowed to rate it, as they've played the real game, not only the trial version, and likely played into the game longer. Let me detail why this is short-sighted:
A gamer's overall judgment of a game is their judgment of the game, not the developer's. They should be able to judge it whenever and however they want. That's the freedom of the system. Great games don't suffer by this open-ended approach, and isn't that really all that matters. Plus, gamers should have freedom to speak their voice.
The gamers are the ones we are pitching our games to, so we should listen to what they have to say. Although it's bad news for a developer to have a game judged what apperas to be too quickly as a poor game, it actually highlights an issue with the game. It could be poor box art, poor intro, or yet again another XBLIG clone that they are sick of seeing. Who are we to judge how the gamer should judge? Freedom is key. The very problem of XBLIG is the loss of consumer confidence, and the last thing we should do is silence their voices even further.
The rating of a game can be made without playing it on the console at hand (at a friend's house, via trailers, via box art, via screenshots, via intuition). Who are we to judge who is worthy of a voice and when? Those voices are the only voices that matter, and are specifically the voices we should be listening to. Ratings may be short sighted, but they are never blind and worthless.
It is often the case that rules and regulations are built out of fear, and the fear here is of the develoepers being scared that their game is not fully appreciated to its deepest depths, which rarely if ever happens in any review anyways. Who understood Braid, for example? Your game has to stand on its own at all levels of depth. It's not very hard to judge poor games by merely looking at their box art and screenshots once you've become accustomed to the "crap" games on XBLIG.
Some part of the game makes the gamer give their rating, and we should be listening to it, instead of being fearful the rating will be harsh. This is not a dictatorship. If your game gets rated low because of poor first impression, be it the box art or the game's intro, than this highlights a flaw in your game that needs addressing, a flaw which was properly rated.
We should encourage ratings. Content ratings should be seen and available for voting everywhere on Xbox LIVE. This is especially important for XBLIG, which receives lower traffic per title. No restrictions should be placed on who can rate and when.
Maintain the ability to rate games in all places, including the ability to rate a game before it has been played. This is a good thing, and I want to break the myth that it is not. Let the gamer judge the game however and whenever he or she choose to, pure freedom of choice. The ability to rate a game should exist everywhere the game exists on Xbox LIVE. Encourage ratings of games. Do not have the dashboard "judge" who is worthy of rating a game and when (i.e., only those who just played it). We should encourage ratings. Some gamers will judge the game by it's cover, by it's screenshots, by it's trial, but it's purchase and first stage, and others will play through the whole game. Most judgments are partial, and we should allow them. That's the point of ratings.
It would be great if the dashboard showed the meanings of the ratings (makes it easier to be consistent), just like xbox.com does:
This issue is also related to Improve Traffic Flow to XBLA and XBLIG: More Proposed Changes to Xbox LIVE Dashboard and the Xona Proposal, each with their own Microsoft Connect issues you should vote on.
More Indie Articles:
About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $180,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.
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