Biggest FRAUD in the Top 25 Free Ranking

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by walterkaman, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. walterkaman

    walterkaman New Member

    Feb 5, 2012
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    NOTE: If you are a developer for the app store, I STRONGLY encourage you to take the time and read through this experience that I had yesterday.


    So yesterday I was looking at different ways to promote my new app (I've tried AdMob, but it turned out to be too expensive before) and I came across this ad network which guaranteed to get my app into the Top 25 in the app store at a relatively cheap price ($5000). This sounded very different from other ad networks, so I asked how he was promoting it and if has has done the same promotion for other developers. He then pointed me to the US App Store and literally WALKED DOWN the Top Free iPhone Apps rankings with me on the phone and named the following developers as current clients of theirs:

    #4 - Tiny Pets
    #5 - Social Girl
    #6 - Fluff Friends
    #10 - Pet Town
    #12 - Crime City
    #13 - VIP Poker
    #16 - Sweet Shop
    #19 - Top Girl

    He said this developer called Crowdstar is quite aggressive and has both of their apps (Social Girl and Top Girl) in the Top 25.


    [​IMG]


    I was totally SHOCKED when I heard that there were 8 apps on the Top 25 Free App store that were all promoted by them. At this point, I was pretty curious on how he's able to do that (I was told by an AdMob sales person before that it takes a lot of money and traffic to promote an app to the Top 10). That's when he let loose the BIGGEST FRAUD ever, he said he had outsourced someone to build him a bot farm and the bots will automatically download his clients' apps and drive up their rankings!!! He even told me that even though I might see my app climb up the app store, they aren't "REAL" at first until it gets to the top and that's when REAL HUMAN players will start seeing my app and play it.

    This was getting quite crazy, on one hand, I really wanted downloads for my new app, but at the same time, this sounds like a HUGE FRAUD. I told the guy that I'll need to think more about it, but he then warned me that Apple already KNEW of this issue and has already taken action and banned a developer called Dream Cortex recently for botting. He said that's why he's charging me only $5000, it would have been more expensive before, but he's trying to get as many clients as possible before Apple stop the botting.

    It's really disheartening to know that Apple is aware of this issue, but yet, they still allow these 8 apps on the app store to use bots. For all these time that I've been working hard at developing my app, I am very disappointed to know that these 8 other apps are getting insane exposure on the app store by paying a mere $5000.

    This really needed to be looked into. I will be honest to everyone that I did considered paying that $5000 at one point, but I decided not to because deep down I really love developing apps on this platform and it saddens me to know that's the way to be successful on the App Store.
     
  2. Dubstep

    Dubstep Well-Known Member

    Jun 8, 2011
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    192.168.0.1
    Welcome to the real world.
     
  3. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    [​IMG]

    This, basically. Ever since the App Store went online and people figured out how much money there is to be made on it they've been trying to game it. This outfit isn't the first, and it won't be the last. The free to play world is filled with things like this now, whether it's bot nets download games or under the table deals to funnel new players into an existing game.
     
  4. coolpowers

    coolpowers Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2010
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    Indie developer
    Coralville / Iowa City
    Name the promoter.
     
  5. walterkaman

    walterkaman New Member

    Feb 5, 2012
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    #5 walterkaman, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    It's called *********. The person that I talked to on the phone is called ****.
     
  6. nsxdavid

    nsxdavid Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
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    St. Louis, MO
    Apple is surprisingly slow to respond to this. I know that they took down Temple Jump soon after I tweeted about it. Yeah... it was my tweet! And not the fact the Keith called them on it. My TWEETS ARE POWERFUL!

    But whatever the reason they are only doing isolated take downs right now, and only if enough bitching arises on an individual title. They need to have a comprehensive and timely solution to botnet pushed apps.

    Developers that use them need to also be banned. Plain and simple.

    Now... back to making the worlds greatest iOS game.

    David
     
  7. walterkaman

    walterkaman New Member

    Feb 5, 2012
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    Sorry guys, didn't think enough to not post their name. Thanks to the person who PMed me immediately, I've updated it already, hopefully not that many people saw the name.
     
  8. coolpowers

    coolpowers Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2010
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    Indie developer
    Coralville / Iowa City
    Sorry, I didn't even think of that. I wanted to shame them and make sure unwitting developers didn't hand over money thinking it was a legit service, didn't even think it could promote them.

    *sigh*
     
  9. DomAjean

    DomAjean Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2011
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    Wow...That's a downer...

    Poor, selfish humans we are...
     
  10. GameViewPoint

    GameViewPoint Active Member

    Feb 4, 2012
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    Great games will succeed on their own merit regardless of promotion techniques used by others. I'm about to start on my own iPhone game, and yeah this is interesting news, but it doesn't make me any less confident that my own game will do well.
     
  11. DomAjean

    DomAjean Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2011
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    It doesn't change the fact of what we are, my friend.
     
  12. suren

    suren New Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    #12 suren, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    I am the founder of CrowdStar and I don't think this post is based on any deep knowledge on how top players are marketing their games in the app store.
    We all spend hundreds of thousands if not millions promoting our games every month using legitimate advertising channels such as flurry, chartboost, iAds, etc.

    Depending on the weekend all the major players such as zynga, crowdstar, funzio, pocket gems, glu and others have between 1 to 3 games in the top 25.
    The reason we can afford to spend big dollars is because the games monetize well.

    While I sympathize with the smaller developers who may not have as much funding as we do and feel that we are getting a free ride the fact is we are spending significant marketing dollars to achieve top ratings.
     
  13. uptimistik

    uptimistik Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2011
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    As an indie dev, this is disheartening to know that the big guys are using this method to get downloads. everyone can have their own little piece of the ocean without trying to trawl for fish.

    @suren if you are using this method, then it's sad man. Really hope you are not.
     
  14. coolpowers

    coolpowers Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2010
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    Indie developer
    Coralville / Iowa City
    Everyone except the completely naive knows that companies are spending a LOT of money to acquire users and buy chart position. It's no different to any other marketing in other industries there. It's unfairly skewed towards large companies with deep pockets, but hey, that's life. Nothing illegitimate going on.

    However the original poster is saying that he has been told that Crowdstar is using a service that generates fraudulent downloads and reviews.

    So, are you?
     
  15. coolpowers

    coolpowers Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2010
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    Indie developer
    Coralville / Iowa City
    And the bigger question in my mind is whether or not this practice actually violates Apple's terms of service. You would first assume yes, but you have to remember that Apple is also making a shitload of money from these apps too.
     
  16. madison82

    madison82 New Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    Coolpowers, I'll be the first one to go to Apple headquarter if this is not against Apple's policy just because people like Crowdstar is giving Apple lots of money!! :mad:

    Suren, spending lots of money on marketing/buying ads is one thing, using bots and farm to get high rankings is a horrible horrible thing. I did a quick Google search on Dream Cortex and lo and behold (http://www.gamezebo.com/news/2012/01/16/animocadream-cortex-games-vanish-app-store), it's real! I wish Crowdstar and all those other people that were on that list burn in hell just like that Dream Cortex guy!!! :mad::mad::mad:

    The other thing that is interesting is that Zynga (for all the horrible things we've heard them done in the past) was not called out on this, they also got two apps that are very high up in rankings.
     
  17. zeromhz

    zeromhz Well-Known Member
    Patreon Bronze

    Apr 25, 2009
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    that's just how it works

    sorry folks, but this is how it works. i could name you at least 5 different services out there now offering this. they all hide under the banner of being advertising networks, but what's happening underneath is basically fraud. there's no clear way for apple to deal with it, which is why it hasn't been dealt with.
     
  18. Rocotilos

    Rocotilos Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2009
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    iOS Apps & Games Developer
    But how do you really KNOW that what the bogus advertising company claim is true?
    How do you know that those 9 apps are really using their service?

    Anybody can claim anything. But not necessarily true. I think the advertising company
    just CLAIM those things to appear irresistable so that you pay them that 5K. Instant money.

    I also can claim, I am the one who promoted Tiny Wings that it is such a success.
    Pay me just 3000USD and I'll make it happen! ;p
     
  19. mr.Ugly

    mr.Ugly Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2009
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    Berlin, Germany

    well an interesting point.. of course you can fraud the fraud.. since no studio will openly tell you that they used such illegal services.. so even if the offering is a fake what would such an developer do.. go to the police and tell them a shady illegal dealing went bad.. ?
     
  20. SmoMo

    SmoMo New Member

    Aug 23, 2011
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    My own thoughts exactly.

    I also suspect that this company is lying about its services:
    * Why would a company openly admit to a stranger that it is involved in illegal activity
    * Any company which had this 'power' to get games to the top of the list would also have had the thought of promoting their own games, its easy enough to buy completed iOS games, and would make a lot more than $5000 if true.
    * I suspect that the company would not offer any written guarantee that they have a botnet ready to game the rankings systems, so they can deny any accusations later.

    It sounds exactly like many similar scams where the seller claims to be offering an illegal service and some customers greedily jump at the chance.
     

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