If You Want More Sales, You Could Ask These 3 Questions From Your Customers

Any producer and developer can do this to improve sales. Simply send an email to your existing customers and you can get tons of information to improve sales. Many people are happy to help you out even if you don’t give them any incentive (like free expansion pack for those who answer).

Ask these questions from your customers:

1) How did you found out about the game? (The purpose of this question is to know where to advertise more. When I’ve asked this question, I’ve got pretty interesting clues on which places are important for gaining traffic. Helps you to know where to focus.)

2) Why did you buy the game? (This is perhaps the most important question to ask, and it can reveal you a loads of things that you never guessed. People don’t necessarily buy the game because you put tons of features in it. They might bought it because they thought it was fun and had cute creatures in it.)

3) How you would like to improve the game? (Only ask this if you actually plan to do something with the answers. If you want to know how to improve the game, the people who actually bought the product are a really good source for ideas.)

With just these 3 questions, you’ve done a better job than the 80% of other companies in this planet (who don’t ask these questions).

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Sargon: well, you ask from what you have :)

    @Oliver: How did it work…? :)

    @Brian & Jake & Krystian: Yeh, there’s 2 schools in this. Some people say that best ideas come from customers, some think they come from designers. I don’t suggest that you accept the ideas as they come, but I have noticed that customers are a great source of fun. In fact, they might say that “trading goods should be more fun”, but they don’t know how. With this type of question (or asking “what’s bad in the game”) you can get a hint about a weak spot in design – and then design a better alternative. In Dead Wake development, I’ve got plenty of ideas from the players, and picked some in the game… but with some alternations so that they match with my overall vision.

    Here’s an another question: do you guys think suggest that game developers should never ask customers what they’d like to be improved in the game? :)

  2. I agree with Brian. I just watched a Malcolm Gladwell talk where he says if you ask coffee drinkers what sort of coffee they like, they mostly say “strong dark roast” but when you TEST that out, it turns out that only 25% of people like that. Most people like weak milky coffee.

  3. Cool post. :-) Applied it at my day job.

    About not having enough users… you have to work on lead generation first, of course.

  4. I’m always wary about question number three. Not because I’m some visionary artiste who can’t bear to see my precious creation spoiled by the opinions unwashed masses, but because players are pretty terrible at articulating what they really want. Often the things they want are great in the short term, but hurt in the long term. Just because a lot of people say they want “combat to be easier” doesn’t necessarily mean that the combat is too hard. It could be that people have hit a particularly difficult encounter, or perhaps it’s just the right challenge, but that tempting reward after the current obstacles is something they want NOW NOW NOW! Making combat easier in either of these situations could hurt the game in the long term.

    As a colleague of mine said once, “the true job of a game designer is to give players what they didn’t realize they wanted.”

  5. 1. That’s a good question. But if a person already found your game via a source, it maybe also means that you spend already enough money there. Here is an even more effective approach: Find a person who WOULD find your game attractive but doesn’t know about it yet. Find out what the person is doing his/her whole day and figure out how you would arrange a “meeting” of that type of person/lifestyle with your game. This is sometimes also called establishing and designing touchpoints. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchpoint

    2. This is good to find out how people perceive your game. I agree there are often misunderstandings. Developers often have a bad sense of how people see their game. However, that may lead to a situation where your game attracts a different audience than you thought. You would start even enforcing that divergence by heavily modifying the nature of the game. Kinda like the recent Evony AD catastrophe. Again, there is an even more effective approach. Find a person you THOUGHT would be interested in the game, who knows about it but decided not to buy it. Find out why that person rejected your game.

    3. Asking your users for ideas is not a sustainable strategy. Successful products need to surprise people, have an own agenda and philosophy, not simply follow the main stream. If you ask any player today what the best game EVAR would be, they would probably describe something like a mixture of Halo3, GTA and whatever they play currently.

    I agree that getting in touch with your audience is a good idea but it need to be heavily moderated. Don’t take the answers at face value. Also, instead of a quantitative approach (rigid questionare with large ammount of people) a qualitative approach (intense, in-depth, personal interviews with small groups) are more effective at giving you inspiration and ideas.

  6. Well, I find one “flaw” in this method. :P
    This method becomes more effective the more users you already have.
    But what if you don’t have a lot of users in the first place?

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