A reviewer found a crash bug in Word Duelist. Which means I’ve pulled the game, fixed the bug, and will be resubmitting it in a week. Which means you can expect to see the game in about three weeks minimum.

I’d like you to keep in mind that fully seven people have passed this game in review without finding this bug, which was not an especially hard one to find. This leads me to my frustration with the review process when bugs are concerned:

(1) Your game took about two weeks before anyone discovered a bug.
(2) There is now a 7 day wait. For a one line fix. It doesn’t matter if you’ve pulled your game voluntarily (which I did last time for a non-fail bug) or it failed outright.
(3) There is then a 7 day wait (approximately) before the game flies under anyone’s radar. It will be at the bottom of a four or five page list (if you’re lucky), where most reviewers will never look past the first.
(4) There is then about a 7 days wait before any reviewers do their job and find bugs if they exist. Most reviewers appear to only look at the game’s box art and pass it. Hence delay (1).

So a single bug costs you, if you’re lucky, at least three weeks but more like a month.

And that’s if you don’t have an Xbox Live component and are not supporting languages other than English. If you’re doing either of those, expect any of those stages to take longer. Especially supporting other languages. I’ve watched games outright fail after a month of not getting enough reviews simply because the reviewers weren’t there (don’t get me started on how the community suggests you fix that problem; I wanted to scream reading that particular forum post). It’s sad when a game that supports five languages has to strip them out because, well, it supports too much.

Now we talk about how you alleviate this:

You can’t.

Of course, you can put up a game without any bugs, which is the preferred scheme. And in a perfect world that would happen all the time. But let’s assume for a moment that, like real studios, bugs happen.

You’re not allowed to incentivize reviews. Which makes sense - providing an incentive is more like providing incentive for passing reviews, which breaks the whole system. You’re not allowed to ask for them either. Which I suppose makes sense; they don’t want to clutter the forum with review begging.

Many people, including moderators, readily admit that they won’t look too hard at people who haven’t given back to the community in the form of playtests/reviews. I’ll try to keep this post off of the side rant that I paid money to gain access to this system and now to actually *use* the system I have to jump through their hoops. I’ll also try to keep off the note that this in itself is an incentive for review, which may be a reason why games get mindlessly passed so often. Back on track, let’s assume you’re doing this. I’ve monitored the progress of people who do this (I myself have playtested and reviewed a number of games), and I can’t see that it actually makes a great deal of difference.

Which leaves you pretty much back to the basics.

I’d hate to whine (and I’ll readily admit that’s all this post amounts to) about a system without actually providing an alternative, so here are a few:

(1) Mandatory reviews upon submission. The opposition seems to think that this will invite gaming the system as though it’s not gamed already. Obviously you penalize drive-by reviewers and you leave open the optional reviews. This has the added benefit that people submitting games actually have to know the common fail points and will thus submit better games.
(2) Dedicated reviewers. It’s something virtually everyone in the community is opposed to and will never happen, which is unfortunate. Note that I did not say “paid reviewers.” Keep them as peers, that’s fine. But give them the same roles as moderators have with forums - they are expected to spend some percentage of their day doing their job.
(3) Allow review trading. There’s no good reason not to. It doesn’t open up gaming the system any more than, say, watching as people playtest/review in the hopes of getting a kickback for their own game. Clearly define what is expected, and penalize abuse.

None of these are mutually exclusive, none require more policing than what’s already in place, none require investment from Microsoft, and all of them can contribute whittling down that excessive queue.

… and with that I’ll end my Pointless Rant.

I’ll get it all back. Piece by piece.