Updated: Aug 12, 2021
As a game developer, few things can ruin your day like a bad review. It's sad, but true, that a small combination of letters, symbols, or emojis can have such a big emotional impact on your mood, and even effect your desire to keep developing.
I've spent more than 3,500 hours developing our game, HAX. I've enjoyed hundreds of positive reviews and likes, and watched dozens of video reviews of people enjoying what I've made. Even with all that praise, a single bad review still threatens to ruin my day.
You might say, "it's just one review out of a hundred," or "but look at all the good reviews." A single negative review of your game is not the end of the world, sure, but it still sucks.
Honestly, most bad reviews are from people who are really inconsiderate, self-centered, or just plan dumb dumbs. There are some people out there, people who no nothing about game development, saying some ignorant stuff. Occasionally, very occasionally, you'll get a bad review that actually has some credibility behind it, has valuable critiques. Usually, those reviews are well written and actually address what they found wrong or frustrating about your game.
So how do I deal with negative comments and one-star reviews? Well, I have someone on my team respond, someone who's typically less frustrated than me by bad reviews. His name is Kyle.
Kyle is our lead Unity developer, he is one of the most considerate and kind people you'll ever meet. Don't get me wrong, the dude's jacked and he's got your back in a pinch, but when it comes to dealing with inconsiderate and unhelpful reviews, he's got more patience than me.
As a company, we've chosen a casual, respectful voice with which to respond to people, regardless of what they might say. For some comments, like the ones that get under my skin, the only one on our team who can respond in an appropriate way, in a way that keeps us "on brand," is Kyle.
If you don't have a Kyle, I'd really suggest not responding at all. At least wait a couple of days. You'll get over it, I promise. Just don't do anything rash.
Most of the time, if you react to someone you'll sound just like them. Trust me, people that leave these kinds of uninformed, rude comments are not going to magically metamorphosis into a better human being just because you fired back a snarky, informed comment immediately. You'll feel justified, sure, but you'll probably regret it.
Remember, it's the internet. People are dumb dumbs sometimes. Don't join them.