It’s generally understood that PC games have a very different audience to mobile games. PC gamers are often seen as being more “hardcore” with a tendency to take games more seriously. Going hand-in-hand with this, the expectation is that PC gamers will be more discerning and critical about the games they play. So, we thought it would be interesting to explore how true the stereotypes are by looking at the reviews given by players to cross-platform games; games with both a mobile version and a PC version. The nature and content of the reviews should give us some insight into the writers.
Player reviews are typically 29% shorter on Steam than on iTunes
First we looked at the length of reviews. You’d expect Steam reviews to be longer, if for no other reason than the writers have access to a full keyboard. But, surprisingly the typical review on Steam is shorter than the typical review on iTunes: the median length of an iTunes review is 24 words while the median length of a Steam review is 17 words.
It turns out that Steam has a lot of very short reviews and very long reviews: 32% of Steam reviews are less than 10 words compared to 20% on iTunes, however 8.2% of reviews are longer than 100 words compared to 4.7% on iTunes. The longest review we saw on Steam was 1926 words (!!!).
96% of Steam reviewers leave positive reviews compared to 84% of iTunes reviewers
We also looked at how positively the two different audiences rated the games. This is a little difficult because on Steam you only select “Recommended” or “Not Recommended”, while on iTunes reviewers can rate from 1 to 5. We decided to count any iTunes reviews with a rating of 4 or more as a recommendation and any review with a rating of 3 or less as not recommended.
Again, what we found was not what we expected: PC gamers tended to be more positive. On average 96% of reviews recommended the games on Steam and 84% of reviews recommended the games on iTunes. All the games we looked at were positively reviewed – perhaps the results might be different for less popular and acclaimed titles.
So, we can conclude that PC gamers are rating the same games more positively. But what about the actual words being used in the reviews; are they mostly positive or negative? The plots below show the 10 most popular words used in each store’s reviews (with common words like “and” and “I” removed).
iTunes reviewers “love”, while Steam reviewers “like”
While there are some words specific to each store – “iphone” and “app” are used in the iTunes store, “story” is used in the Steam store – the two lists are actually very similar. Perhaps unsurprisingly in both stores, “game” is the most commonly used word by some margin. Both top 10 lists include “great”, “fun”, “good” and “play”. iTunes users prefer “love” while Steam users prefer “like”.
PC and mobile gamers may be more similar than you think
It’s sensible to treat these results with some caution; while we’ve looked at over 50,000 reviews combined, it’s far from certain that the people who write reviews of games are representative of all the people who play games. One conclusion we can draw, however, is that perhaps we should think twice before making assumptions about PC gamers and mobile gamers. They may be more similar than you think.