‘Genshin Impact’: Anniversary rewards ruined the app’s store rating

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Julia Kozlova
‘Genshin Impact’: Anniversary rewards ruined the app’s store rating

On September 28, Genshin Impact, made by MiHoYo, was hit with a barrage of negative reviews on Google Play by players dissatisfied with the anniversary gifts from MiHoYo to celebrate the game's first anniversary.

Google Play users reviews, Reply to reviews, AppFollow

What happened?

To celebrate the game's first anniversary, the development team decided to organize a series of events to support the community. These included several online events, creative contests, and cosplay competitions with prizes and gifts. Among the announcements, there was to be a limited amount of in-game bonuses for logging in on the day of the anniversary, which turned out to be an insignificant amount of bonuses, according to users later on.

Pay users were upset that the bonuses were not significant to the progression of the account in the game itself. What’s more, users were indignant that the gifts were only given to winners of the competition. This meant that loyal paying players who did not want to participate in the events but who are an integral part of the company's earnings were left with nothing.

Genshin Impact's average rating plummeted, going from 4.3 to 2.4 on its anniversary day, September 28th. On that day, 1,120,000 users rated the game with an average rating of 2.4.

Ratings & reviews dashboard, Google Play Rating Dynamics

The following day, users left 131,445 reviews with an average review rating of 2.2. And the day after that, the number of reviews exceeded 200,000, which was the highest number of reviews in that period.

Ratings & reviews dashboard, Google Play Reviews Dynamics

On the same day, 7,900 Google Play users changed their previous positive rating for the game to a negative one:

Reply to reviews, AppFollow

The drop as a result of the anniversary day catastrophe began earlier, on September 20th — falling from 4.5 to 4.3, when the company issued a release announcing the plans for events and gifts that users could win. But nothing yet had been said about the in-game bonuses that players had been so eagerly waiting for.

Ratings & reviews dashboard, Google Play Rating Dynamics

Developer’s reaction

All players have received in-game rewards

On September 30th, MiHoYo sent a message to every single player to say they had added two new rewards: expensive loot and some in-game currency, which ended up satisfying many players. This led to 7200 of these users changing their negative reviews to positive ones.

Reply to reviews, AppFollow

Users started complaining about Google removing some of the negative reviews.

Among the reviews left by users, there were many where people complained about the deletion of their comments. Some users wrote the review all over again. This means that the developer most likely used the help of Google Play - Report a concern, to remove blatant and unfounded negativity.

Systematic work with responses to reviews

Although the developer did not tackle the reviews at the critical moment of September 28th, only beginning active work with the responses much later — from October 11th, the responses to the feedback had a noticeable influence on the recovery of the app store ratings.

From September 28th to October 31st, the developer provided 2100 responses to user reviews. The result of this was that 236 users changed their negative review to a positive one, increasing the app’s rating by +0.470 on average:

Replies chart & Reply Effect, Google Play

Consequences for the game

It’s been one and a half months since the game's anniversary, and we decided to check out how the chosen strategy of anniversary gifts has influenced the game's performance over this time.

What did we find?

Google Play

1. The previously held rating has not recovered

As of October 31st, the overall average rating on Google Play has risen back up to 3.9 but has not recovered its previous rating pre-anniversary— 4.5.

Ratings & reviews dashboard, Google Play Rating Dynamics

2. The game continues to receive negative reviews

The main flurry of ratings came during the first four days of the anniversary catastrophe, but Genshin Impact still continues to receive several times the number of negative ratings on Google Play than before:

Rating chart, Star distribution, Google Play

App Store

3. The previously held rating also has not recovered

In the App Store, the rating situation also worsened, but not nearly as much as the Play Store. During the event, the overall average rating in the App Store dropped from 4.5 to 4.2, and the rating has remained at this point to this day.

Ratings & reviews dashboard, App Store Rating Dynamics

4. The users stopped giving negative reviews

The influx of negative ratings & reviews lasted for the first five days and then stopped, except for the days after the new release on October 12th:

Rating chart, Star distribution, App Store

The effect on app store search visibility

On Google Play, the surge in reviews has had a good effect on search visibility. In a cross-section of the world and the few countries which left the most negative reviews, we can see that from September 26th, keyword searches increased everywhere at around the same time. The screenshots below highlight the same period from September 13th to October 31st:

On the App Store, the opposite situation happened — the drop in ranking negatively impacted search visibility. The screenshots show how the number of queries indexed by the game drops drastically over the same period. They saw a drop for the entire world, and the countries with the biggest drop in rankings were largely due to the anniversary, in the period of September 13th to October 31st. This is shown here:

Conclusions based on performance in the app stores:

  • Always keep track of rating changes

If you notice a drop in the rating and trace the cause of the drop, you will be able to make adjustments to the work of the support team to reduce the outbreak of the looming problem.

  • Take into account the interests of users — especially your customers

Do not neglect the feature requests or expectations of your audience, even more so if they are active and loyal. Otherwise, the loyalty of your customers or subscribers will crumble and you will be confronted with a barrage of negative feedback simply because they feel unappreciated as a result of product development not reflecting their wants & needs.

  • Once a score is given, it doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever

Users can easily change their positive and negative reviews. A recently disappointed user can update their old positive review to a negative one to show their disappointment, which will affect the average rating of the game or app just as much as a new review.

  • Respond to reviews on time

When the developer shows the user that they care about their experience, the user is willing to forgive mistakes, more likely to retract their negative feedback, and remain loyal.

  • Establish feedback response workflows in advance

At times of crisis or high intensity, it's very difficult to properly organize feedback response workflows. Without the support team working on the issue with a proper process in place, the developer risks using other, less effective ways of solving the problem (for example, removing negative reviews) compared to the simplest one — communicating with users.

  • Changes in app store ranking can have an impact on search visibility

The impact of this is quite different for both stores. On Google Play, search visibility can increase after a large influx of reviews, with the average review rating having less of an impact. But with the App Store, the average rating is very important for search visibility, so a drop in rating cause an app’s visibility to go down significantly.

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