Understanding Extended Testing Feedback

Positioning Platforms as a Key Factor in Independent Game Development

  • Xinge Tong King's College London


The independent (“indie”) game is a common category of video games, referring generally to those that are developed by individuals or small teams. When creating new games, most developers recruit a testing team made up of users/gamers who are not in the immediate design team and generate feedback about the game. The main objective of this study is to explore a qualitative way for categorising and filtering online reviews through social media platforms to help indie developers process user feedback efficiently during the extended game testing phase. This research adopts a qualitative methodology to develop in-depth and high-quality results based on case studies of Manifold Garden (William Chyr Studio, 2019) and No Man’s Sky (Hello Games, 2016). It includes qualitative content analysis based on Grabarczyk and Aarseth’s (2018) ontological meta-model (2018). A comparative investigation is also used to evaluate two key media platforms: YouTube and Steam. The results indicate that Steam users’ reviews focused on fundamental aspects of the game operation and game mechanics. In contrast, reviews on YouTube were related to the visual performance of games. The researcher observed an understanding gap between reviewers and developers, which means not all reviewers’ advice had been accepted. In conclusion, indie developers could consider platform types when categorising and targeting user feedback.

May 15, 2022