Stop punishing developers who are trying to make their games accessible

Accessibility Advocacy

This was just posted by the developer of Crafting Kingdom and it is an instance of what you may think is helping really doesn't help with accessibility. If you are one of those 1-star ratings, please delete your rating, as you are hurting the financial success of the company who is expending lots of effort on a market that is not very big. If you want to encourage accessibility, please post on the developer's blog saying you can't wait for the nonvisual mode to be released. Here is another post on this forum to encourage accessibility. Leaving 1-star reviews is not the way to encourage developers to go faster on accessibility.



Submitted by venova on Friday, July 12, 2019

I agree to this. I will give this app five stars.

Submitted by Peter Holdstock on Friday, July 12, 2019

I’m really disappointed to read this although I’m not completely surprised at the reaction you’re getting. Eiffel one I’m very sorry that your studio he is being treated so unfairly. Please do not think that the views these people have expressed a representative of the whole blindness community as I’m sure almost everyone will agree that they aren’t. Keep up the great work and it is much appreciated by many.

Submitted by Joe on Friday, July 12, 2019

Club AppleVis Member

I don't know anything about what has been going on, but here are my thoughts. If you told folks this game was going to be accessible and hyped it up then folks got the game and it wasn't accessible I understand the bad review. Honestly I don't play or download games unless I know so I am assuming that is what happened. Furthermore your asking me someone who hasn't reviewed the game to download it write a review on the hopes it will become accessible some day. I'm sorry not for me. I don't like the aggressiveness shown by the community but again I don't know all the details.

Submitted by Brandon on Friday, July 12, 2019

There was no communication that this game was going to be accessible (this would have helped). The devs released the game as a soft release, so they could start getting downloads slowly. The hard release for VI players hadn't even been talked about yet. The reviewers assumed, because Crafting Kingdom was accessible, this would be accessible too. When it wasn't, they were upset and wrote a 1 star review, which made the devs upset and not want to work on accessibility as much, because games that didn't have a reputation for being accessible didn't get these 1 star reviews for not being accessible.

The company has a track record of Crafting Kingdom, and the Unity Accessibility plugin. So I believe them when they say accessibility is coming.

I think moral of the story is for devs to put some kind of shoutout to blind users that the nonvisual experience is not there yet, but will be released shortly, and moral for reviewers and fans is to communicate with the devs directly, or on sites like this, so you can get what is going on without giving the app a bad review when it wasn't released for you yet. If the devs brush you off, then maybe give a bad review, but not on someone who is working to get the app ready for you!

Submitted by James on Friday, July 12, 2019

So I just gave a 5 star review for this app, as it's developed by a small studio, with a proven track record for accessibility.However, I am not changing my rating for either Pokemon Go, or the newly released Wizards United, as Niantic is a major studio, with quite a lot of revenue coming in, but have made no attempts to reach out to the blindness community in any ways that I'm aware of. Let's support small devs like we support local businesses folks.

Submitted by alex wallis on Friday, July 12, 2019

I don't like two above comments that blame the developers for the bad reviews, that's like blaming a victim for a crime happening to them.
As people have said we don't know all the facts, but my first thought is if this game was encountered on the appstore people could have written privately to the developers to ask about accessibility before sounding off in a one star review.
It also sounds to me like some people have submitted bad reviews after actually being told that accessibility was coming now that to me just seems like a total slap in the face to developers. apart from anything the game is free with an inapp purchase, for god sake there probably operating on a shoe string as it is.
I have actually taken it upon myself to write to michelle who has been applevis's point of contact with the developers since crafting kingdom came out and told her just what a difference I feel at least to me they have made.

Below is what I wrote in case its of interest to anyone.

Dear Michelle,

I have just read your blog article after having it promoted to me by applevis, that you posted where you explained your frustration about the way you have
been treated by certain self entitled members of the blind community who don't seem to live in the real world and appreciate that quality is far more important
than having something instantly straight away and who don't represent the views of the majority. I felt compelled to write a response to tell both you
and your colleagues just what a difference you do make even if people don't tell you.

Unfortunately I didn't know you had even launched this game or about your blog, I guess I should follow your game studio on social media so I can keep
up with new releases, if I had known I would have signed up for the beta to assist with testing though I didn't see a sign up link made available so must
have missed it.

However let me tell you this I thoroughly enjoyed crafting kingdom and in fact I would say its probably the best value for money game that I have bought
so far, I estimate it took me a good two maybe three years to complete it gave me hours of fun on long boring car journeys, flights and even some tedious
family occasions and in fact I would certainly go back to it if new features were added to it now.

So many games we have are just black and white card games with little replay value or dice games which involve no skill and with story based games once
they are finished that's it.

With crafting kingdom what I particularly liked was the way the difficulty scaled and it forced the user to play over a long time.

At the moment the most challenging game I have on my phone is a 10 year old word association game which while fun unfortunately won't be coming out with
new updates although I do have I estimate at least 50 puzzles to complete, once I have done that it will be finished, plus there is only so long you can
think about words and such.

I enjoy games that are mentally stretching where I have to make complex decisions and that sort of thing.

I love science fiction and similar genres so galactic colonies sounds like it will literally open the player up to a universe of possibilities and will
give me hours of fun just like crafting kingdom did. I am currently unemployed and although job searching a game like this one or crafting kingdom is a
great way to bring some fun and excitement into my life, that little sense of achievement when you complete a quest or have enough resources to build or
buy something it helps me escape the emptiness just for a while, and means I am not passively watching the tv but keeping mentally stimulated.

So please do know that your efforts are appreciated and that to me at least your efforts have made a real and positive difference to try to be inclusive,
as also its great if I can recommend a mainstream game to a friend to play. Its all very well companies like blindfold games making specialist games for
the blind, but that walls us off from the rest of the sighted world, and let me tell you your average sighted person doesn't want to play a game with no
text, graphics etc which is totally understandable. so that's one thing I also appreciate is being on a level playing field with sighted people. Lets say
I am looking at a dating profile and someone describes themselves as a geek that's great, but if they then go and say they enjoy about 2 pages worth of
games that's me totally shut out of there world as I won't have heard of the titles they enjoy, and certainly can't play them.

I don't even own a console, in fact the iPhone is probably the only bit of fashionable mainstream technology that I own.

So if I can go to them and say check this particular title out its a way of putting me on the same level as a sighted peer at least for a while, games
are one of the fundamental areas I do feel shut out of so anything that tries to level this playing field is great.

The problem is this world is becoming an increasingly visual place with its memes, instagrams, its disposable fashion, tv series and films are so transitory
before the next big thing comes along. So just know in your own way you do make a difference.

remember If you need any help with testing of course do feel free to let me know and keep up the great work, better that its ponished and your happy with


Submitted by Brad on Friday, July 12, 2019

I wrote to Michelle asking if I did sign up, I'm sure I did and if i can test the beta.

I also mentioned how horrible I think giving a game one star when you're told it would be made accessible is.

There's a game, The girl who souled the world, or something like that. They've promised a ear mode, (there accessible mode,) for quite a while now and they're working on it slowly, I downloaded the game and found that it wasn't accessible, like they said, but I then didn't go onto the store and write a 1 star review, that's silly.

On the other hand, perhaps the person was having a bad day and regrets it now.

I downloaded the game and look forward to playing it.

Submitted by Justin on Friday, July 12, 2019

I second Alex and Brad. Being told playability is coming in the future and giving the app a 1 star review is just bad form. Especially to a small developer who is tight on money ETC. I've had crafting kingdom ever since it's inception and love it. Haven't played the game in a long time as I've lost interest for now. The girl who sold the world has some great voice acting from what I can tell in the beginning, and can't wait to see what they'll do with the ear mode when it is released.

Submitted by Remy on Friday, July 12, 2019

I feel like this embodies a lot of how developers are treated, by both sighted and non alike. That said, there is never any excuse for being so pissy about inaccessibility. Be patient, know it is coming, and yes, write privately to the developer asking the status if you have the patience of a toddler with their eye on a new toy. Accessibility in games is hard enough to implement already without rabid would-be consumers chomping at the bit and blackballing the developers. Crap like this is why we can't have nice things, and these people are ruining it for the rest of us.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Friday, July 12, 2019

I actually do give one star reviews and do say I won't change it until x is added. For me, that depending on the feature makes the developer add it. I also do contact the developers and ask they add x y and z as well, if they say no, then I leave the 2 star review.

As a content creator though I hardly look at reviews for this reason. If I like what I do and i feel it is release worthy fine otherwise it woll not be.

Submitted by Joel on Friday, July 12, 2019

But why leave a one star review to something that You know is going to be accessible in the future? Just because it is not accessible now? Also, I think that leaving one star reviews because a certain feature you want is not in the game is really petty

Submitted by Joseph on Friday, July 12, 2019

I'm with joel on this one. why leave the poor review of the app/game after the requested feature/accessibility improvement(S) have been addded? That makes literally no sense, and honestly, some would say it makes the reviewer(S) look like total assholes. If there's one thing I can say, it's that companies, no matter how big or small they are, hate crappy customers.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Friday, July 12, 2019

I do agree with the thing about crappy customers. I've ben lucky actually. I faught with a customer because he didn't want a refund. Lol! I don't read any reviews and I could care less about them even though people leave them.

The reason I let a 1 star review in this case with an app in the ios store is the developers really did not care about accessibility and basically left us in the dark. We wrote emails, and even m sighted friends did and the devs shrugged us off saying they had no plans to blah blah blah.

I will be downloading this app as crafting kingdom is good but I'm getting board, so this might be somethingn fun to do in my not so spare time.

Submitted by Michelle on Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hi everyone, I'm Michelle, the author of the blog post.
I wanted to post here to throw in my two cents. Ian Hamilton just linked me this thread, and I posted this over in the forum as well.
Because my blog post felt kind of negative, I didn't post it on Twitter or draw attention to it. It was a personal vent - I didn't think many people would care for it.

There's no need to give the game a 5 star rating to counter the 1 star ones. The thought is much much appreciated, and thank you for that - but I'd feel much better if people just reviewed the game after they played it (once everyone can play it). Someone said it pretty perfectly further up in this threat. Manipulating ratings to counter manipulated ratings is not the solution.

Also, I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment by the sheer amount of comments, emails and Twitter messages I have received. All of them positive, some offering insights or just trying to see things from all sides and so on. It's pretty awesome, and I made a point of showing around the 20+ positive comments on my blog post today. That definitely changed things, I can tell you that much.

Regardless, even if not a single person had read my post - it wasn't my intention to make anyone worry that I'd be stopping my work on the game's accessibility. If there's any doubt in that regard, allow me to spell it out:
This game will become accessible!
I just don't know when.

Aside from the big core gameplay mechanics, I'm fighting a million little things. Here is just one example: The text in some labels has words highlighted in a different color. The screen reader reads the color information out aloud, so currently you're hearing "Great job recruit, now hop onto your left bracket color equals hashtag f f c c 4 5 right bracket colony ship left bracket dash right bracket and fly to the next planet".
Not terribly difficult to fix, but I have a hundred of little things like that to iron out.
I'll get through it all, in time.

Last time, with Crafting Kingdom, it was the feedback of dozens of beta testers from this forum and others that made all the difference. The first version of the game was accessible, yes, but far from great. I'm really hoping one something similar again with this game, once I got things far enough to throw it into an accessibility mode beta test. I had always planned to come here and start a thread looking for beta testers once I'm in that stage.

Submitted by Melissa on Saturday, July 13, 2019

I read this when it was posted this morning and just got a chance to catch up... In my experience--with sighted and non-sighted people--the not-so-smart mean and lazy people are usually the first to complain about something. It is too easy to just slap a 1 star or impulsivly rant about something. To top it off... they never come back to change it once they get what they want. Too much effort to change it.
The good people aren't always so loud--unless there is a post like this that calls them to action.
These days it is too easy to complain and hardly anyone ever praises. I guess it's like no news is good news? A compliment here or there can mean a lot to someone--no matter what it is.
You can urge those people who did that to not do it... but I highly doubt they read posts like this. :(

Submitted by charles on Saturday, July 13, 2019

I will not give an app a 5 star rating if it does not deserve one. Krafting Kingdom has been worked on quite extensively to get it accessible. It deserves a high rating because it was worked on and because it is a good game. The newer project will get a high rating from me if it meets the same criteria. I do not give automatic praise as encouragement. This is nothing against the developer. It is merely, in my opinion, being fair.

Submitted by Scottsdale on Saturday, July 13, 2019

I totally understand the Production Manager's reaction, and to be honest, mine would probably be the same in their shoes. That said, I really hope the company doesn't decide to de-prioritize or move away from providing accessibility because of a petty contingent. It sounds like the expression of support outweighs the negative reaction, so perhaps showing anyone who's having wobbles inside the company a curated selection of that could help to repair the damage?

Submitted by charles on Saturday, July 13, 2019

In reply to by Joel

If I know that accessibility is coming, I will wait until it arrives to rate the app. Isn't that the fair thing to do? Also, isn't it common sense and common courtesy?

I do have to agree . My reviews such as they are honest and if that means giving a 2 star, then it means giving a 1 star. I never by the way give any 5 stars as there is no perfect app, song, game, etc. It's 4 stars and below.

Submitted by Hadi on Sunday, July 14, 2019

I just want to assure you that there are so many of us that understand and appreciate the efforts that you're making as a developer.
If individuals like you weren't around, we wouldn't have gone so far in accessibility improvements in the game industry.
It is sad but true, When it comes to game and app accessibility, usually a single person has to bear the entire weight, both for technical work and communications with the project managers.

Submitted by Joseph on Sunday, July 14, 2019

I'm in agreement with Charles. Wait until the product or game is released, then review it. Don't just slap a 1-star review on something based on hear-say. Take it from one who knows. I've done this myself. I'm sure we've *all* done this. It's not a very nice thing to have to eat your words.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Sunday, July 14, 2019

Hello to all,
Let me start by saying that the behavior of some people is absolutely uncalled for. Now, let me give you a bit of history for me, and you'll see why this comes full circle.
I have worked in the educational field, and where I worked it is next to impossible to get anything regarding accessibility done without pooling some teeth and then getting bit. However, I also had the wonderful pprivillage of working for electronic arts, to help make Madden 20 and there other sports accessible.
In case you guys don't know, Madden 20 is a video game simulation of what it is like to play and own a franchise in the NFL. It's higly complex, but I'm pleased to announce that the majority of the game's menus are fully accessible to blind players. I say majority because there are areas that still need some TLC, and I know that EA will work on it.
Now with that out of the way, I wrote on another post that blind people did this when Flexy created the Flexy VO ap, and after the truly negative backlash, flexy could care less about accessibility. I understnad that many blind people felt slighted because it was blind people that helped them get started in the first place. However, the backlash was such that I don't even know if that ap is accessible anymore, and if it isn't shame on those who acted that way. With this again being said, we need to be more constructive in our feedback. If it's a small developer that has made a previous title accessible, why be so upset that accessibility is not there to begin with? Fact is, it sounds like that it will be, but to have the managers say don't make it accessible? What kind of message does that send? Reach out to developers, communicate with them. If they don't want to make there stuff accessible, then by all means leave a 1 star review. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Submitted by Shersey on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Talk about impatient! Sheesh! Give the devs a break already, whoever you are! This company has a very good track record of making their games accessible with VoiceOver. People like this really annoy me! I could see that kind of response from somebody who had contacted a developer about implementing VoiceOver accessibility and gotten a very cold shoulder type of response, but not from a developer who has worked with us since the beginning.

Personally, just from the little I saw in the original blog post, and given the great image discriptions, I'll be getting this game! Heck, I'll even download it now. That's how confident I am that VoiceOver support will be implemented. It was for Crafting Kingdom, and I loved that game a ton!w It looks like this new game will be right up my alley. More accessible games to play from an amazing developer who really listens to, and seeks out, constructive feedback from this community, as well as making gameplay as painless and fluid as possible by implementing an interface that works extremely well with VoiceOver? I'll take that any day! Bring on the games! :)


Submitted by venova on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

These people worked extremely hard to make their game Crafting Kingdom and it worked.
We need some patience and I really hope MetalPop will fgill make the game accessible.
I gave a five star review just to try and repair the damage others have done even though the game is inaccessible.

Submitted by vulcansummer on Thursday, August 29, 2019

When I hear these extremely negative responses toward developers who are only trying to do their best to make their games accessible, it makes me very sad, and a bit angry. If we know a game is going to be accessible at some point, we should have the decency to be patient and be encouraging.

Remember, these developers have no obligation to make their games accessible. It takes a lot of extra work, and in some cases, trying to encourage other developers on their team to want to include accessibility into their games in the first place.

I am grateful to you, Michelle, for trying so hard, even though you got so many negative responses from people. Please, understand that it doesn't reflect the majority of the blind community who play games. Your hard work and kindness is so much appreciated.

As for me, I look forward to playing this game whenever it becomes accessible.

Submitted by Hilary Reed on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

This type of behavior is one of the many things that make people unsure and even possibly afraid to interact with the blind community, in both app development and everyday life. In my experiences here in Florida, particularly at my college, the blind students were often seen as winey, helpless, and unreliable. Our actions as a whole determine what type of treatment we will receive. I’m not pointing any fingers, however, I am speaking from experience with regard to undoing damage done by the behavior of others in a certain group. Because of these reviews, the wrest of us have to try harder to prove to the world, including developers that we are capable of being appreciative, among other things. I hope that you all understand my message. Thank you and have a great day.

Submitted by Perry Simm on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

This touches on a question I often ask myself: When does it make sense to complain about lack of accessibility, and in which way should the complaint be raised?
Personally, I use a four phase model to make this decision, as follows:
Phase 1: Motivation
This is the phase of making people feel good about doing something. If you can't wait to sit down and begin working on making your app accessible, then I have successfully motivated you, or rather, I have provided the information you required to motivate yourself. I can safely skip this phase if you are already using accessibility in your marketing. For example, I don't need to give Apple or Google the talk on why accessibility matters. It should be part of their policies to relay that to their employees.
Phase 2: Patience and support
You can't make the grass grow faster by pulling on it. So the next step, after planting the seeds of accessibility, is to create a secure, supportive line of communication, then patiently wait for those seeds to take root. The amount of patience required should be inversely proportional to the resources available to the company in question. For instance, I usually crack down hard on a large company failing to get accessibility right from the get-go for a new service. On the other hand, I am full of appreciation for a small company for even trying. Michelle, I'm looking at you. In addition to just patiently waiting, this is also the phase where I offer my help, in both word and action.
Phase 3: Correction
Here we are crossing the fine line between making people feel good about doing something, and making them feel bad about not doing it. If I can't get them motivated, and/or they've been trying my patience way beyond what is reasonable, I feel I have every right to let them walk the walk of shame if it helps them develop, especially if they fail to put down their money where their marketing is. For example, if a large company uses accessibility for marketing purposes but then launches a new ebook service without solid accessibility, rather than waste time motivating I clearly point out why this is simply morally wrong, why I am severely disappointed, and why I believe people should not be supporting it until it is fixed. If you think this is harsh, remember that an honest attempt at motivation followed by a reasonable amount of patience came first, and remained fruitless. We're way over in the area of therapeutic resistance.
Phase four: Appreciation
This is all about gratitude, about telling people how much we appreciate what already works, and how this appreciation directly translates to revenue. This is also the phase for spreading the word about something great, for celebrating success, and never, I repeat, never, for making wise-ass remarks about how all of this could have been done sooner, or better, or with fewer setbacks.
Note that in truth this model is cyclic in that phase four can also be regarded as phase zero. We always start by appreciating what is already in place, and we always end on a positive note if there is one.
So, while my model certainly does include shamefacing under certain conditions, and this may be regarded as punishing, it is by no means restricted to this form of communication, and I try to avoid that part if at all possible without endangering the goal. If, however, it's the only way in which the goal may be reached, then why should I not use that method if it's in my arsenal?
Cheers Perry

Submitted by Kristen on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I'm not sure who else read the linked blog post with the demo of gameplay, but this sounds amazing and exactly the sort of game I have been craving. (I used to love playing Age of Empires and Civilization, for example, but mainly for the colony building part and not so much the war part. This was when I still had vision.)

As a programmer, I totally understand the interesting workaronuds that probably have to be considered to make such things accessible ... but looking forward to trying this out whenever things get solved! Thanks for all the hard work!

Submitted by Endarion on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Michelle that demo sounds awesome. I love and appreciate what you're doing for us blind gamers in spite of the bad experience you've been having with this community. I hope you can convey to your management that this kind of behavior does not reflect the majority of blind gamers. Instead, it is representative of a small, loud, strident minority which, set-theoretically, is simply the intersect between blind gamers and habitual whiners.
Keep up the amazing work. I can't wait to start colonizing planets!
All the best,

Submitted by Zachary on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

In reply to by Michelle

Hi Michelle, out of interest, what device was used to create the demo for this game? I only ask because the voice used is not currently available on iOS. Were you perhaps using iOS 13? If that violates any nondisclosure agreements, you of course don't need to answer. I'm just curious is all. Thank you so much for your time.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I agree that when it is a small developer taking the time and the effort to make the games accessible, I am generally more pacient.
When this game comes out, I'm going to get it and play it. The fact that Michelle is putting up with flack from members of this community is motovation for me to support her.
Also, I fully understand being excluded by a developer. While accessibility is taking steps for the xbox 1, there are still many situations where we as blind players are left out. I won't go in to that, is this site is about apple products, but for me the chalanges are real.

Submitted by Will on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

i was going ask about the voice used, really like it don't recognize it.

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I have downloaded this app in anticipation of when it becomes accessible. As for the voice used in the demo, I *think* it's Vocalizer Nathan! If so, and if this means Nathan might be coming to iOS, that will make me super happy. Anyway, I would never leave a negative review for an app I can't use yet, especially if I know that accessability will be coming in a future update.

Submitted by Ian McNamara on Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hi everyone, with the record this developer has on making there games accessible, I feel these should be supported. There clearly in favour of making there games accessible to the blind community. So what if it is not ready for launch date, would you rather not have the game as ready as possible. If they releced accessibility mode early and there were problems people would soon be critisizing that. I bote that companies like this who really care about accessibility should be rewarded for there efforts and supported. If we support these companies then more companies are lightly to come on board and make the effort to. we all need to understand that things take time and be pationt. Personally with the success of crafting kingdom I believe this company will keep to there word and make this game accessible.

Submitted by Will on Saturday, September 21, 2019

michelle,what a superb demo!! will this be able to be on test flight as was crafting kingdom'? ,

Submitted by Michelle on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hi Zachary, the demo was made on a Windows PC, using the NVDA screen reader. I have the Code Factory Vocalizer plugin installed, to get better voices than the rather robotic NVDA default one. This particular voice I believe is either Nathan or Daniel, I forgot which one.

Submitted by Michelle on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hi Will, yes, this will absolutely be on Testflight. It's not quite there yet, please don't download it just yet - I don't want anybody to be disappointed.
We're currently working with a potential publisher, which is awesome - but they require a few changes to the game, and we're currently busy doing those.
While the blind and low vision community isn't their target audience at all, it was one of the first things I talked to them about. Our producer has a friend who's blind and so he's all onboard with that. So no road blocks on that end either.

Currently I'm going through the menu pages one by one. I never realized just how many there are. rofl. And all of them are set up differently. I have to do some really tedious work to each one, because the order of the elements is all out of order.

I'll ask here on AppleVis for willing beta testers as soon as the game is playable.

Submitted by Paul Martin on Thursday, September 26, 2019

Though some might say this is ever so slightly off topic, I'd like to post here a fine example of a developer being beaten up over a game that actually is not just playable, but quite easily so for more than just Voiceover users. The backgammon game can be found over here on the iOS app store, and you'll see a single 1 star review for the title as of this posting barring mine. Updated: Since iOS 13.1 is now out to the public, i can now rate/review games. I've done so of course, and encourage others to do the same. It might also be worth nothing here that every time an update is released, the ratings and things left for the previous version are not readily visible, meaning that folks should rate the games again.

Submitted by venova on Friday, October 25, 2019

I hope this game will be made accessible. I have it on my phone so I will find out when and if the game becomes accessible. Gave a five star rating. I would like to be a beta tester and have beta tested lots of things and am good at feedback..