81

I am a game developer and I want players of one game to know and try my other games, so I came up with the idea to launch their default browser, only after they quit the game for the first time, to my webpage.

Having seen many games and applications do the same, I wonder how it is perceived by users in general, and what should be done instead.

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    Your idea made me think about system wide AdBlock ;) Its that bad, I generally stop using such software/adware. – PTwr Apr 17 '16 at 20:13
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    PLEASE do NOT do that. Adobe Flash and Oracle Java are already doing that after every update and it is so damn annoying. It's often the case that I have 100 tabs saved from my last session and when the browser is launched I get a huge lag or system freeze. I just wrote a script to kill the installer so that I don't have to press the finish button. </userstory> – Noir Apr 18 '16 at 12:02
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    this is malware. please don't put malware into your games. – Apologize and reinstate Monica Apr 18 '16 at 19:41
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    @sgroves No, what the OP is suggesting is adware. – AStopher Apr 19 '16 at 7:38
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    @cybermonkey it's both—adware is a type of malware. malware: software designed to interfere with a computer's normal functioning – Apologize and reinstate Monica Apr 19 '16 at 14:27
225

Highjacking expected user flows is bad. If a user closes an app, they expect it to close, not start opening up other apps (even if it's just a browser). Beyond annoying, it can be perceived as untrustworthy. "Oh great, now if I want to open up an app by this developer they're going to keep trying to launch something else. Delete."

You could have an exit window, "Are you sure you want to quit? Yes / No / Visit our site for other games"

If it's important for users to discover more of your games, why not build that directly into the app? A page in the main menu for "Check out our other games"? If people love your game, they'll try the other ones and you're offering a faster path to downloading it. And if they get there because they want to, they'll be more loyal.

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    Another common thing I see is to use loading screens within your app as an opportunity to advertise to a captive audience. – Bobwise Apr 18 '16 at 13:08
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    and on the confirm window, add a "don't ask again" checkbox. – njzk2 Apr 19 '16 at 17:14
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    I liked this answer until you suggested "Are you sure you want to quit?" ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH! – user31143 Apr 20 '16 at 13:50
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    "Are you sure you want to quit? Yes / No / Visit our site for other games" Does the last choice close the game? – A.L Apr 20 '16 at 17:05
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    @A.L Surely you mean Yes/No/FileNotFound. – Aron Apr 21 '16 at 9:02
65

From a user's perspective, don't hijack my browser!

Please.

Don't touch the other software on my computer unless you're making it clear what's about to happen, and I have the option to opt out or opt in.

Don't make any obstinate to remove or persistent changes to my computer unless you're clear in explaining and I'm clear in understanding about what is going on - the latter is harder to verify but making effort on the former helps greatly.

I digress. The point is, it's not appreciated when my computer does things at the whimsy of someone who isn't me, and while installing a game or a utility might be my whimsy, the things that come along with installing software certainly aren't all one user's whims.

If you as a developer want me to come back for more software, three "easy" things:

  1. Write your software thoughtfully, write it well. If it's not that great (yes that's a terrible metric) from the get-go, anything extra you do that isn't improving the quality (again I know terrible metric) will seem more like make-up on a pig.

  2. Put any developer info on a splash screen, in the window title, maybe a tip-of-the-day interface, etc. Display this while the software loads or for a short period after loading. Some people might dislike splash screens or welcome windows, so the option to turn it off is appreciated by at least a small selection of users. Don't waste time on these things if the rest of the program is a mess, this is mostly how you should take credit for a polished product.

  3. Use the "help>about" convention. Even through your program may eschew a standard UI toolkit with a typical menubar, some kind of a "help" interface is a pretty standard functionality - and if I can't find help for your program in your program, well that's a different argument. This one's point is stick your contact info - email address, website, github, whatever - somewhere in a menu with a self-evident label. Use tooltips or other graphical hints to lead a user there if you must, but as a user I'll be most excited to see what else you've done if what I'm already staring at actually impresses me instead of depressing me.

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    The Help -> About menu is a very traditional and standard way to learn about the software you're using. It's the first place I think of going when I want to find out info (website, etc.) of the developer of the software I'm using. Opening a browser window after your program closes is bad. If I close a program, and a browser window opens, that browser window will always get closed before it even finishes loading (and software that opened it will probably be deleted). – Unknown Zombie Apr 19 '16 at 15:06
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    In games the "help->about" screen is typically the credits shown automatically when beating the game, which is an ideal place to also show the url of your company while listing everyone who worked on it. – ratchet freak Apr 21 '16 at 11:14
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Relax. Don't be the next king of spam.

Generally speaking (and I know generalisations are super unpopular around here, so bear with me) you should not be thinking about the first time the user quits your game.

That's the first time they have had enough of your game, or are interrupted. These are not people ready to consider your other games.

After a player has played and quit your game 20 times, you can safely be assured they liked your game. In this situation, on their 20th quit, you can be reasonably sure they're fond of your game, and you as a game designer/producer/developer. NOW you can present them with some marketing of your other games with a reasonable surety that they'll be interested in the other stuff you've made.

  • On the other hand, perhaps this game is a 'quickie,' and the inhibition to trying an alternative is low. I know that I have found a developers game and instead have ended up choosing one of their other games. – New Alexandria Apr 17 '16 at 22:21
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    Also, OP should consider creating a splash that is handled by the game itself (which would appear after the user quits), as opposed to opening the browser without warning. There are games I play every week that I'd still be bothered by if it randomly opened my browser after I quit out of it. – WorseDoughnut Apr 18 '16 at 14:00
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    It's important to recognize that the user won't know this is a one-time event. If they see the browser pop when they close the game, they will be justifiably annoyed, and assume that it will happen every time thereafter. You won't get a second chance. – GalacticCowboy Apr 20 '16 at 14:13
  • But I want to be the king of Spam. – user82382 Apr 21 '16 at 23:41
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    The title is wide open. Go for it. Your Mother will still love you, even if your friends no longer do. – Confused Apr 22 '16 at 5:13
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You're asking about bundling ads with your game. Tread carefully. Software that opens a web browser to an advertisement, without the user's consent, is called adware, and it's universally hated.

It's perfectly fine to want people to be aware of your other games, but bundling adware with your software is not the way to do it. I've seen some games that "creatively" (they think) place ads for their other games within the game world, which can range from mildly annoying to almost as infuriating as adware. The best option is to put those ads in out-of-game space that otherwise would just be blank. Good examples would be:

  • In the developer splash screen that you show as the game is loading
  • To the left or right of the main game menu when the game is first started
  • As Gisto said, as a link on the main menu or as an option when exiting the game (but make sure it's in a place where people won't accidentally click it when they just want to quit the game)
  • On your website, and have some reason for the people who love your game to go there (e.g. forums)

Remember that a good game is the best advertisement for your other games.

9

You said you only want to do this the first time they exit - is this because you know it's annoying and don't want to annoy them? Consider that thought when making the decision how to approach this.

Let's review the purpose of your advertisement: do you want more downloads? More purchases? More exposure? More positive exposure? And is this end-of-game ad going to make that happen for you?

What you're describing isn't much different than those "on-close" nag screens that are like "Are you SURE you want to leave this page?" Yes, I'm sure. I clicked close, didn't I?

Instead, you'll want to make your advertisement happen on YOUR turf. How big is your game? If it's reasonably big, you could probably justify a five or ten second ad while you "save settings". Put a little bar at the bottom showing the "progress of the save" and conveniently show a small ad above the progress bar. "If you liked this, check out _____". If you make it more than a few seconds, though, you'll find it have a higher cost (in terms of negative exposure) than you have benefit (in terms of checking out new games).

To make it seem like you're not advertising show much, mix it in every once in a while with tips (did you know you can open your inventory with CTRL+I from any menu?) or stats (your most accurate weapon is the Shotgun with a 85% hit rate! Well done!) to spice things up.

Our culture, especially gamer culture, is to abhor advertising in all its forms. We want to block it and ignore it whenever possible even if that advertising is something we're likely to enjoy. Thus, to keep the exposure from this advertising positive, it has to feel natural and welcome. Ironically, that usually means tricking someone into looking at it.

tl;dr

  • Make a loading or saving screen to display your ad.
  • Don't flood the screen with ads, make it have other content too.
  • Don't abuse the space with ads that are not likely to be successful.
  • Make your user enjoy the ad as much as they enjoy the game.
7

I would be furious and instantly uninstall the game. I would very likely leave a very negative review warning others about this behavior.

Though I have a newer machine where it is less important, prior to getting that my primary computer was quite old (it was replaced around its 10th birthday). For performance reasons, I would frequently close my browser (which I habitually use with many, many tabs, for a substantial memory footprint) and only re-open it (set to restore all those tabs) after done gaming.

If, for whatever reason, I was transitioning from your game to, say, another game, or something else not involving the browser, this behavior would have wasted a substantial amount of time as my computer loaded up all those tabs. Hence: uninstall, nasty review.

6

The best way is not to do this.

Provide a link to your other games.

If you write a good game users will use that link to see what else you have written.

If the game is not that good any ads will make the users think even worse of the game and author.

0

As a user I am reasonably used to games opening browsers for me in some circumstances, however I would certainly see it as being more courteous if I am given the option especially when it is not directly linked to what I am trying to do at the moment. ie a login or game options screen is fine, a home screen for the game maker or distributor is ok, more general advertising is annoying and potentially suspicious.

Context also makes a big difference, on something like Steam of Uplay I don't particularly mind being shown other products as long as it isn't intrusive of getting in the way of what I'm trying to do. But on a new platform i would prefer to be left alone untill I have at least played the game for a bit.

I would also expect to be asked for permission before a game access my browser to show me advertising.

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I think informing users of new game releases is better served in your marking efforts. Users will expect marking communication about future games and will be more likely to explore new games. Trying to market after the user has made the decision to close the game is bad timing. The experience is the same as telling a good joke but with bad timing. It's not the same as a good joke told well. :)

If you are going to have multiple games in the future I would look at Platforms like Origin and Steam. They house multiple games and constantly market new ones. Maybe you can some ideas there.

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