Does Niantic care about the Ingress customer experience?

HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

Does Niantic ever say, "We shouldn't do that because it's a bad customer experience", "We need to fix this quickly because it's a bad customer experience", or anything of the sort? I'm fairly certain that the answer is no. Here are some examples that spring to mind, and how I would have handled them if I was King of Ingress:

Lag: We've had bad lag, intermittently, for... a year? More? This feels like a "time no longer exists" situation. It's gotten somewhat better but as of today I was still experiencing deploy lag that was bad enough that it impacted my gameplay. If I was in charge of Ingress I would have stopped other development and thrown the whole team on it, and probably attempted to borrow senior talent from another team to do a deep dive so that we could address the issue as quickly as possible. I well and truly grok complex, multi-faceted issues but even those should not persist more than a few weeks.

The recent Android sound bug: We all know about this one, I think-- in a a recent release sound was on when the app was started even if you had sounds disabled. This was annoying, and occasionally embarrassing for someone who started the app expecting it to behave like it always did. I would have done a patch release and pushed it to the Play Store ASAP rather than waiting a couple of weeks. Expecting users to take extra steps every time they started the app makes the company look bad, especially for something that was probably a trivial fix. I would have identified and closed the testing gaps that allowed this to happen.

Store items on the carousel: Anyone who played Ingress a lot would have immediately understood that this is a horrible idea that would impact gameplay and provide no real benefit to players, and for the love of all that is good and right in the world I absolutely wouldn't have made this change before the first big anomaly in years. I would have listened to that one person in the meetings who said "this is going to annoy users more than it's worth."

New photos don't appear: Why should user bother to improve photos if their work is just going to disappear into the void? I would prioritize this lower than the other issues above but would make sure it was fixed and that the backlog synced to Ingress within a few weeks. I would also ensure that sync issues were detectable by introducing some test wayspots that got new test images added daily, and creating monitors that alarmed when the images on the test wayspots were > 2 days old in Ingress. I would ensure that this was a standard part of every new game.

Most or all of these issues should have been caught internally before they made it into production. Each of them should have a post-mortem to identify the technical and process gaps that allowed them to get to users, and there should be mandatory follow-up items to close those gaps so that the company doesn't make the same mistakes in the future. Mistakes should always be new and interesting. (-:

When a company's revenue is in nine+ figures it's no longer a startup, and it needs to stop acting like one. It's occasionally cute when toddlers draw all over the walls with magic markers, but past a certain age that behavior is just not tolerated. The same is true for companies. Both entities go through awkward growth phases while they learn how to act like an adult but at some point they need to just step up and do it.

Comments

  • mortuusmortuus ✭✭✭✭✭

    Add the kinetic that is broken for so many now and still no proper fix.

  • EngrishEngrish ✭✭✭✭

    Add in that they don't seem to care about player made missions or mission murals anymore. Everything seems to have gone automatic to the robots.

  • jaaxtmpjaaxtmp ✭✭
    edited August 2

    Niantic will see first for the game which makes them earn more money and obviously it is not Ingress.

    Seems like they're not fixing but just patching.

  • XMrulzXMrulz ✭✭

    Region score shot globally, no action on spoofing, pay to win in the shop now. Oh my.

  • spiesrspiesr ✭✭

    Yes (to the extent that they care about Ingress at all, we all know it's far from the top of their priority list) with some caveats:

    • Their vision for what an ideal user experience (and an acceptable user experience) is is substantially different than that of most players.
    • They have limited resources that they are willing or able to devote to the project. Some things are simply beyond the project's means at this time, and user experience doesn't always get to be the project's number one priority.
  • GrogyanGrogyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    They absolutely do care about Ingress.


    What they need

    Is to employ more developers.


    The income they are getting now should be sufficient to employ more people.


    Rather than a game designer for pogo, a game which is already designed???

  • I think the game receives the attention they can afford to give it in terms of financial and human resources. I would be surprised if the game is currently making a profit.

    A better criticism may be at how much, how many and how Niantic (not just ingress team) employees play. That sound bug should've never made it out the door. That was a huge deal for people with hearing aids or that rely upon Bluetooth otherwise.

    At this point I'd like to see a rebooted game. Learn from the botched transition to prime. Learn from current gen of what works and what doesn't. Put something new but familiar out and hope you move most of the current base, bring back retired players and lure some new folks. But again I think biggest obstacle to that is you really need designers who have been deeply engaged with the game, communities, ops, etc and understand why people would invest hours, money and gasoline making invisible triangles.

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    To be clear, I think Niantic cares about Ingress.

    I think they perceive Ingress largely from the creation side, though. "What is the customer experience?" and prioritizing that experience doesn't seem to be baked into Niantic's culture.

  • SSSputnikSSSputnik ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 3

    I'm rather tired of "Ingress is not Niantics core focus" or "It doesn't make enough money to warrant attention" as excuses for poor development/attention.

    Ingress is either a product that is staying around, or it is not.

    As a long term employee in a software development company, (since 1993) with multiple products with equally varying financial performance you need to either cut stuff loose, or treat it with the respect.

    Treating dev teams on one particular product as poor cousin is:

    a) terrible for dev morale

    b) terrible for customer relations (they/we are not stupid).

    Hosette is right on the faults in her OP- most of those bugs/decisions should never have made it out the door.

    And lag... The lag on recharge has been around since Prime was released. (Where you hit charge and the charge bar falls, (changes to yellow where usage is displayed) but does not completely update and just hangs. Usually with the purple ring of lag. So it's been YEARS not a year...

  • ZeroHecksGivenZeroHecksGiven ✭✭✭✭✭

    With lightship, it definitely seems like things are very disjointed at this point. I'm less than interested in reviewing wayspots, nominating them or trying to figure out the arithmetic it takes to make sure my effort allows for a new wayspot to make it into the game I play. I've been fooled a couple of times now by distance rules changing randomly, having to do little tricks to get photos to show up into the game or whatever else has changed over the past year or so. So much more effort than what's needed.

    The other things, definitely curious what's involved with the beta releases and ultimately who decides what makes it into the game and what doesn't. Bugs are inevitable, but poor design and user experience really shouldn't make it to the public releases.

    Lag, it sounds like it's not something they can figure out or at least that's what they're saying. Are they saying they can't nail it down or can they just not get the game to keep up on cheaper servers? If the game is reliable when they boost some setting for an anomaly, seems pretty simple what the long term fix is, make the boost permanent.


    I think they care, to some degree as well. Like, there is a balance in any business. Making money and keeping people happy enough to make you money. It's clear to anyone who has played any of the Niantic games that they make blunders often, rarely own up to them and for the most part, do things the way they want to do them. PoGo will bend here and there because of how large the community is, but it seems like Ingress folks just roll with the punches and allow Niantic to continue doing what they want, regardless of how it's affected or will affect the community. I have to imagine if 50% of all CORE users cancelled their subscriptions for a month, Brian and Thia would be in here a little more often trying to make things right.

  • MoogModularMoogModular ✭✭✭✭✭

    So by your definition, that would be PoGo. Prime was getting Ingress updated to Unity along with their other games.

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