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What is this "Rank" doing in my game's analytics page and how can I make it go away

A topic by MOKKA created Feb 15, 2018 Views: 1,064 Replies: 33
Viewing posts 1 to 11
(1 edit) (+1)

So I was just browsing through my Game's analytics pages, because I was really bored and noticed some additional numbers being displayed at the top of them. On my commercial game's page I noticed a "Rank" and I'm really confused what this is.

I also don't want to see it, because I'm not at all interested in how my game compares to any other title. However seeing that number still makes me think about it, because I'm the type of person who always worries about stuff and thinks that their work isn't good enough. So seeing my game being associated with a number that suggests some kind of hierarchy immediately makes my head spin.

First of all, I would like to know if you folks have announced that feature anywhere and if not, what the motivation was behind it.

Next, I would like to have an option to remove that rank from my analytics pages. If people want to join a pissing contest about whose game's the best on itch, let them, but please give us an option to just walk away from it.

Admin (4 edits) (+4)

Thanks for the feedback. Rank is your global rank in popularity score*. It only appears if your rank is less than 10k. The rank determines the order in which you appear in the browse pages on itch.io. It was not added to give you a way to compare yourselves with other games, it was added to give you some more insight in how games appear on the global listing page, and give you a way to measure progress against yourself as you might experiment with promotion. (For example, what happens if you tweet about your game, or release a new update, or write a blog post, what will happen to your rank?)

We have not announced this feature yet, we've pushed it out with some slight redesign to the project edit pages. We tend to make incremental changes to pages until we're happy enough to announce them on our blog. A new goal of ours going forward is to give developers more insight on how their projects are performing, since we want to encourage people to build the best possible pages. 

A lot of developers are using itch.io as the place to launch their games to the world, and we want to make sure they have the knowledge to get their game in front of the most people. A lot of components on itch.io are optional:  designing your page, adding tags, classifications, building a community, etc. We've seen many developers do the bare minimum in putting together their page, then being disappointed because they didn't get enough views to match their expectations. This really puts them off to the platform.

We see this as our fault a lot of the time because we don't give developers an opportunity to understand how the system works. When I first launched itch.io I was "anti-discovery", there was no way to browse games since I thought developers could bring their own audience. I see now that this is silly, we should be helping. Our game listings are very important for smaller creators to build their audience. It's a really powerful thing given that it's already super hard to get attention on other platforms.

We want to make it very clear how you boost your game's discoverability on the listings, so we want to make this rank number available for those that will find it useful. If that's not a priority for you then that's perfectly okay. We can see many benefits for a lot of developers though. It gives them a path to presenting their page in the best way possible. Additionally, those who come to itch.io and see higher quality works are more likely to revisit additional pages, follow you, add to collection etc.

I definitely understand why you're put off by it though, and I do appreciate your feedback. If we do end up keeping it there then it's unlikely we'll have a option to turn it off, since we want to avoid more UI options than necessary.

*Popularity score is a ever changing value that represents how popular your game currently is, it tends to fluctuate a lot since it's sensitive to things that have happened to your game in approximately the past two weeks.

Sorry for the essay, I hope this clears things up though!

(2 edits) (+1)

Thanks for your clarification. I have some more thoughts on this, but to be honest most of them are incredibly speculative right now, because I have no idea what criteria you're using to dertimine the ranking. I'm going to mention them anyway, because I currently don't have much else to do.

Basically this is what I'm afraid of:

Ranking systems create competition, even if you don't intend it. Competition leads to people trying to game the system. If for example a certain type of game, or certain page layout generally leads to a higher rank, more and more people will just end using these things, which then will dissolve the game's individuality. Kind of like what happened to YouTube, where you now have this infinite parade of the same type of video, with the same composition, the same title, the same thumbnail. 

So you then have to either obscure the paremeters that determine your rank, which makes it less useful, or you end up with people possibly exploiting the shit out of it.

Maybe there's a way to provide the same kind of feedback, but without attaching a number and hierarchy to it? This way folks could still gauge how much they improved their visibility, without all the icky competition stuff (or at least with less of it).

Admin(+1)

I think that the issue you're describing already exists regardless of whether or not we show the number on the analytics page. This number has existed in our backend for a long time since it's how we sort things on any browse page by default. We want to make it more transparent because we think that the average developer is going to see it an an opportunity to have an impact on how more exposure we are giving them.

We have a policy cheating your ranking on the listings, your game gets de-ranked. We will continue to identify any suspicious pages and take appropriate moderation action if necessary.

Regarding the destruction of the culture because of people trying to optimize their rank. It's interesting idea but probably too speculative at this point. We still do a lot of curation on many parts of the site and we try to keep things fresh there. Popularity is already a loaded metric since something doesn't have to be good to be popular. Maybe in the future we'll change our algorithm for ranking games in order to combat this.

I'm interested in the idea of having another metric as a replacement. Some more stats that we plan on introducing in the future are impressions and clicks. Impressions being the number of times your game's thumbnail has appeared on our browse pages, and clicks being the number of time someone clicked on it. With that you can get an idea of how much exposure you're getting from us, and what your click through rate is. I'm not sure if it fulfills the same information as a rank number, but it's useful information to have

(2 edits) (+1)

The thing is that the homogenisation of a platform's aesthetic is something that has happened over and over again in the past, so I don't think it's not completely speculative to point out that this also might happen to itchio, if there's a system that people can exploit. I don't even mean "cheating". Folks on YouTube who are using the same type of thumbnail layout aren't cheating, they're exploiting the system that YouTube has in place.
Now obviously I don't know how the rank is determined here, but the moment you start prioritising certain content over other's is the moment where you're making a statement about which type of content you generally prefer. The moment you do that, is the moment where people will start to build their things accordingly. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't provide people with information, but I just want you to keep in mind that this stuff has consequences that might not be all that obvious right now.

I do like Fenreliania's suggestion of changing the rank into a general assesement of how your visibility on the platform has changed over a set period of time. But also give people a way to opt out of analytics stuff. There are folks that don't want and don't need these information and it would be nice to have some say in that matter.

(1 edit) (+3)

I think this could do better as a personal ranking/delta, showing how far up or down you've moved, which gives you clearer information about how your reach has changed while mitigating the issues of placement manipulation and mental competition people have outlined. I don't know if limiting it to the top 10k is a tech issue, but if not it would be plenty helpful to everyone as a delta.

(+1)

I'm also a bit worried that the current wording (even if it's only one word) and presentation make it feel more competitive than you've intended it to be. I agree with Fenreliania above that a delta would serve the same purpose, possibly even better. Changing the term from "Rank" to something less immediately competitive like "Browse Position" could also go a ways towards improving this.
I certainly appreciate your desire to be transparent and help us measure our success, but I'd hate to see a change like this cause anxiety and stress in developers who otherwise wouldn't care about this sort of thing.

(+1)

Heck, maybe even a toggle somewhere that just says "I don't care about popularity" and hides that sort of information would be nice?

(+5)

I can understand that people will have different views on this but I very much appreciate it, as I'm sure many others will.  Thanks!

Admin(+2)

For anyone interested, there is now also Impressions and CTR analytics on that page. Impressions are how many times itch.io has shown your game and cover image to someone, and CTR represents what percentage of the time that was clicked.

(+2)

I think I still agree with a lot of folks' concerns about the connotations and structure of "rank"... if the goal is to get people to improve their pages, doesn't a "discoverability" or "completeness" number seems better?... and/or maybe make "rank" an opt-in thing that's off by default (but with a contextual infobox on the analytics page that lets people choose to turn it on?)

(3 edits) (+5)

I have to say I disagree with everyone in this thread. It's a doggy dog world and competition is the way these things work. Steam also has a rank for your games and it's a much more brutal situation there since it seems to mostly depend on how well your game does on the first few days it's on their platform, as this video states https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNCgFbc53iU.

Everyone who wants to make their projects the best benefits from knowing how well it's doing compared to everyone else. If you don't want to compete then that's fine, but don't remove information that would be useful to people like me who do want to compete and who do want to make their projects the best they can be.

(+1)

Oh boy, I'm not going to engage with your larger point because my time on this earth is limited, but please point me towards the part where I said that analytics should be removed for everyone?

I think I said "give people a way to opt out of this stuff", which means that there will also be an option to keep things the way they are.

(+4)

leafo has said he will not add an option for this because he doesn't want to add too many UI options for tons of stuff (which is a valid point, since many UI options means more testing time whenever you want to add/change things in the future). So it really is the case that it's either keep it or remove it. I could argue with everyone here endlessly about how most of your arguments on this are wrong, but since my time on earth is also limited I'll say this: in my view, if a number bothers you guys so much maybe you should just grow a thicker skin.

(+1)

And still, we haven't really talked about removing them? Just changing them? You do know that you can still provide the same type of information, just in a different context. That doesn't make the information go away and might even make it more useful! It's like a strange magic trick!


Also even though leafo said that he won't give an option, I'm still going to propose it, because I think it would be a good thing to have and it would also be in the spirit of the platform, which is about giving devs control over how they present and treat their work.

(+2)

The proposed change seems to be to show you a delta instead of your actual rank. This isn't a better solution. It's way less information to the point of being useless. It's no use to me to know that I went up 50 positions if I don't know whether I started out at position 100 or position 1000.

I'm glad not everyone shares your particular worldview.  Not everything has to be a competition you know. Global rankings especially (which nobody benefits from except maybe the top percentage of developers here) tend to drive amateurs and hobbyists away in my experience, marginalizing creators even further, which would be a huge loss to itch.io from where I'm standing.

"Steam does it" is generally a good reason not to.

(+3)

"(which nobody benefits from except maybe the top percentage of developers here) "

I'm having trouble understanding your perspective on that. Anyone who is trying to sell a product, whether it be an asset, a game, a tool, whatever, are competing with other sellers for a potential customer's time and attention. They obviously benefit from any information that tells them how their marketing methodology is performing.

"Global rankings especially tend to drive amateurs and hobbyists away in my experience, marginalizing creators even further"

Honestly, that seems like wild, unsubstantiated speculation presented as fact. It probably applies to some amateurs and hobbyists, but certainly not everyone.

(1 edit) (+1)

Given that some people want to see this number and others do not, I still think something like an option to turn it on would be a good approach if it can't be altered in a way that pleases both parties. Also, unrelated to your point, but I thought you might like to know that "doggy dog world" is a popular eggcorn for the phrase "dog-eat-dog world".

(+3)

Obviously I don't have access to the wealth of data Leaf does but I still feel fairly comfortable with saying that the majority of Itch usage will not be people in competition with each other. You only have to look at the excess of jam projects and experiments that reside here.

It's very important that Itch stays a place that welcomes these sort of projects as they're fundamental to our progress in games - freeware and related always have been. It's also important that not everything be, as you call it, doggy dog because *not everything is*

No-one in this thread is averse to the availability of analytics but I think putting the onus on Itch to consider its role in the community and how much "business-ifying" everything absolutely will effect the role it plays (because it always, always does) is vital. Part of the reason Itch thrives in opposition or accompaniment to Valve's sell all the things, everyone fight now is because it is, for many people, in opposition.

I understand that in order to survive and grow, Itch will have a balancing act of pleasing two fundamentally opposed camps - especially if it wants to invite more projects from professional game makers. Just listening to those on the other side of the fence from that is absolutely vital too - they don't want or need to be placed in competition, if they did then Steam already exists.

Personally, I would go with an opt in but I understand that the more friction, the more difficulty in getting some uptake. It's not an easy problem to solve but it is vital that some sort of compromise scenario is reached because what Itch does now is too important to throw away.

(+3)

I just fundamentally disagree with your view. This site will succeed if it makes money. It will make money from successful projects selling, not from freeware games and jams. Catering to people who are not interested in making their projects good and profitable is a mistake.

(1 edit) (+2)

You do know that itchio started as a platform to easily distribute freeware and gamejam games  and unlike many other digital stores for indiegames that popped up and went under over the years, they are still around?

Sure, I'm not the itchio business person, but from what I can tell, having a good portion of your userbase being composed of smaller amateur devs doesn't really seem to hurt them...

(3 edits) (+2)

Well, I mean you can disagree with my worldview as much as you like! I've been doing this for nearly twenty years now and it's largely been my experience that big Indies don't compete with each other (sharing info to lift each other up is the norm where I lurk), more co-exist. I've sold hundreds of thousands of games in all these years and never once needed to push anyone out to do so. I can't possibly see what advantage doing so would net me over what I already can do, y'know?

So sure, you can disagree but a) it's not how things tend to work in games and b) it's a moot point because Itch is and will continue to be somewhere that welcomes all (within the bounds of its code of conduct) -- we're just trying to ascertain the best route to ensuring both free and paid can thrive.

*Shrugs*

(3 edits) (+2)

I'm also not interested in "pushing people out", in fact, for the first game I made now I wrote an entire tutorial on how to program that game from scratch, which you can see here https://github.com/SSYGEN/blog/issues/30. This is more work than most people do to help their fellow indie developers. What I find wrong and misguided is that I should have less information available to me because some people can't deal with seeing a number attached to their projects.

No-one wants that. People want a way to *not see* that information.

(+5)

Hello I like rank.

Admin(+7)

I ended up hiding the value for the time being until I can think of a better way to represent it. If you want to see again you can add ?show_rank to the URL (but no guarantees on that working forever)

thanks, really appreciate it!

Moderator(+1)

Thanks for also keeping the option for us who like the feature (for the time being) :p 

Good luck on coming up with a more universally agreeable iteration!

(+6)

Where's the dislike button for this post? Why not make people add something to the URL to hide it instead? I can assure you the kids whining about seeing a number are in the extreme minority.

Admin

This isn't a permanent solution, just keeping things as is until I come up with a better way to display it.

I wonder if just renaming this variable something other than "rank" would be enough to address this issue? Is there a word that just indicates position in a list without connotations?

Admin

Not sure, I also considered turning it into a percentile, but that probably comes similar connotations.

(1 edit) (+2)

I love this rank thing. I'm so thirsty for any new information on how our game is performing. I don't care what you call it, I just love having it and I'm grateful there's a way to access it currently. That being said, I would love it even MORE if there was a way to see its change over time via graph. I want to see how our actions affect it - I have a whole spreadsheet in google sheets for tracking our performance numbers.

Please feed my hunger for graphs and numbers. Thank you.