Friday, February 27, 2009

Beta testing and Feedback (part 2)

I was reading through my blog from last night, and I want to expand upon an idea that I do not think I emphasized enough, and that concerns feedback.

The biggest advantage by far to beta testing is feedback. Feedback is a powerful tool by which we can make improvements to products, systems and processes, but it does not have to stop there. Feedback can also shape behaviors. As I stated yesterday, in this information age that we live in, we can get immediate feedback on just about anything. In order for feedback to be effective, an individual or organization has to be receptive to this feedback. They have to put themselves in position to accept this feedback, as constructive feedback is not always pleasant to read about. Soliciting feedback is the easy part. Reading through it without getting overly defensive is something else entirely.

I think there is a natural reluctance for organizations to share too much and to open themselves up for feedback. The fact that Paizo did this is significant, which is the point of my blog yesterday. It was an ambitious under taking. WotC also did testing, but it was on a smaller scale. It was not very ambitious.

Today I as arrived at work, I saw several examples of feedback at work. Which I will highlight below:

1) As I booted up my computer, the MSN news page popped up, and there was an article about Facebook. Facebook is a very popular social networking site that facilitates information sharing. Recently they tried to change their policies on the ownership of user content. The users immediately sent tens of thousands of complaints, and Facebook went back to the older policy.
2) Product quality is another example. When there is a quality issue, it immediately pops up on blogs, message boards and YouTube. Companies need to understand how this impacts them, and how to quickly respond to this feedback.

In this age, companies that can take advantage of customer feedback and learn how to utilize the feedback potential will find themselves better positioned in the market place. While a lot of companies say that they put customers first, I wonder how many really know how to do that.


Zachary The First said...

I've really been excited about Pathfinder's open beta, and a lot of my players have, too. They're playing PFRPG in another campaign, and folks who usually don't go to RPG sites online went and gave their two cents. I think that's pretty exciting.

August seems a long ways off!

Mr Baron said...

History will ultimately be the judge of how successful Paizo was with their Beta rollout strategy. Thus far, it looks like they are very successful in what they wanted to accomplish.

I think any serious fan of the RPG hobby has to take notice in what they are doing and how their grand experiment works out, regardless if they ever play Paizo's system or not.

I will be at Gencon, and will provide a full after action report on what happens.