I just found this site yesterday and spent a good amount of time trying to understand what was going on which led me here. As someone less than 24 hours into this foray, I'd like to give my perspective as an outsider. Documenting it now is better than waiting a few months and forgetting what it was like to be an outside.
First, I just want to say the only reason I'm taking the time to give this feedback is because I appreciate what you have all done so far, I hope to be a part of the community, and I give this feedback with good intentions so that the community might be better off for it. I'm in no way a troll just spewing criticisms from a dark corner of the internet because it makes me feel better. I simply don't have the inclination or time.
To start, I'll preface that I'll parallel this little diatribe to that of a business trying to obtain and retain customers. If you all want to increase the number of people in the community and thus the amount of people playing this game, ask yourself what you would do as a business if you were trying to charge people for this experience. Simplifying that approach for the benefit of this post, a business should:
Sell the experience,
Reduce the friction for the prospect to be a customer,
Provide great customer support.
So, the specifics...
A. The homepage is busy. Actually, both are. After a couple of hours of bouncing around and reading everything I'm still not sure why there are two homepages. It's all too much information for someone new. A business would create one homepage, sell the experience, and make it very clear what the visitor to the site was supposed to do next (the "call to action")...which is download the software to play. Everything else is a distraction for a new user. If you need all that other information later, great...bury it out of sight in the menu and funnel the new users there once they're up and running.
B. I downloaded the software for my mac to install it and was a little confused. I know what an emulator and ROM is which gives me a bit of a leg up on other newbies, but I'm in no way up to date on what all the technologies are -- I haven't used an emulator in 10 years. So, there were some little nuances like the unusual interface and getting past Apple's security that made it a bit confusing. The site's instructions helped a bit, a simple Youtube tutorial would have been much more helpful.
Those two roadblocks are probably enough to keep most people away. I kept going because my brother and I used to play this game for hours a day as kids and we're looking to recreate the experience remotely so we're a little extra motivated. We ordered controllers and will be able to figure out how to start playing against one another, but I'm honestly not even sure what to do to get into some pickup games or register for upcoming leagues/tournaments.
C. I'm sure you're all busy and being a full-time customer service rep is not on your bucket list. That being said, it'd be nice if I knew that to go for help I should consult this message board, go to the Discord channel, go to the facebook group, or click one of the email links to ask for help. Again, too many options, too much friction. Funnel everyone to the most active place and consider killing the rest.
Again, I don't want to sound like an angry, ungrateful person who showed up to spit vile. That's not my intention. It seems like this community has been active for a long time and everything has been piecemealed together as technology has progressed, with no major revamp to refresh the groundwork.
I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually and hope to see you all in some games at some point in the future.