Android fragmentation is not a new issue. It is something mobile developers have always had to deal with when working on Android titles. It’s still an issue, with 24.6% of devices running on Lollipop, 28.1% on Marshmallow 12% still running on Kitkat, 28.5% devices running on Nougat, and only 1.1% of devices running Oreo as of February 5th, 2018. Things are even more fragmented on the devices site of things, with Samsung being the biggest player but there is no shortage of different Samsung smartphone models in the market today. The release of Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, and subsequent negative reviews, have shown just how important it is to test Android games on a range of phone models before release.
So what happened?
On January 31st, Square Enix launched the global version of Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, a turn based RPG featuring an array of characters from the Final Fantasy universe. Unlike many publishers and developers today, Square Enix opted for a global launch instead of soft launching the game in a limited number of regions first.
After the servers launched, some players began experiencing issues. These included game crashes, black screens, and most bizarrely text boxes that did not contain any text. This led to a wave of negative reviews. 1 star reviews quickly tanked the game’s rating, until at one point it was below 4.0. Games that drop below 4.0 are typically either really bad or have major technical issues, and they rarely appear in the top grossing list. The exceptions are a few notable strategy games that spend a lot on advertising.
Technical issues are a great way to lower a game’s rating
Mobile game ratings on Google Play tend to be high, much higher than games deserve. That is due to a combination of factors, including games pushing users to review a game in a way that helps maximize the chance of a positive reviews. As a result, Google Play reviews tend to be dominated by 5 star reviews. 1 star ratings are also prominent, and a common cause of those ratings is technical issues that prevent users from playing. Games that are not well received due to a number of reasons beyond technical issues like Square Enix’s King’s Knight tend to have more balanced ratings distributions.
The result is often games that might not have any major non-technical issues getting lower overall ratings than lower-quality titles that do not have any technical problems.
This further shows just how important it is to test Android games on different devices in order to avoid a slew of negative reviews as soon as the game launches. It is also one of the reasons why soft launches have become so popular with free to play title. Soft launches allow a game to be tested in a smaller market, allowing the developer to squash as many bugs as possible before opening the game to the world. It also allows the game time to recover if there are any negative reviews due to technical issues in the soft launch phase.
For its part, Square Enix has released an update for Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia that seeks to fix some of the technical issues users have encountered.