Biggest FRAUD in the Top 25 Free Ranking

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

  1. MetashapeGames

    May 6, 2010
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    #21 MetashapeGames, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    To name a download bot service.

    Gt****.com

    This might not be the one which are ou guys are talking about.

    Anyway.

    Please shut this services down Apple. Or even better, improve the visibility of apps.
    No one likes to see the same 25 apps for a decade.
    Thanks.
     
  2. TheGreatWhiteApe

    TheGreatWhiteApe Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2011
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    Games Designer, animator, writer
    Melbourne, Australia
    Money Game

    You are better off putting the 5k into buying a site skin for a week or 2, or buying a stack of youtube app reviews. It will generate real users, who will then generate sales with friends and other contacts. Like some of the other members said, it doesn't matter how much you promote you app, it will come down the quality of the app in the end. Something that is well built with unique content will do well well over the life of the app.

    Promotion is important though but I would suggest staying away from bot services, or fake review services, they will bite you in the long run.

    Just make great apps and the sales will catch up with you before you know it.
     
  3. mommagamehouse

    mommagamehouse Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2009
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    CEO
    india
    What is bot farming ? Someone please xplain
     
  4. Eli

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

    The idea basically amounts to someone with tons of iTunes accounts uses all those account to download a specific game. That game then sees a massive boost in chart position because of the surge of hundreds (or even thousands) downloads.
     
  5. Greyhoundgames

    Greyhoundgames Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
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    Not to be Debbie Downer here, but just making a great game is no promise of success. The appstore is brutal and anyone who is thinking of getting into it should really be aware of that fact. The games like Tinywings that just come out and are great and succeed are the 0.001%. There is also a large group of excellent high quality apps that are failures.
     
  6. AnonDev

    AnonDev Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    Hello there guys. This is a throwaway account, obvious reasons. I've sent the things below to Pocket Gamer, TA and you can also find them on Cocos2d

    I want to start by saying why I write it. The reason is simple - we want scams removed, just like you guys. We want the AppStore to be an honest market. The notion of AppStore depending on various frauds is just wrong. I am not going to mention the name of any company here though. However, there is quite a few of them, make your own research
    The scam WORKS. We've tested it, we got the results
    We knew something was wrong but the deal was simple - top 50 free in US [more on that later] and we got it. We've asked questions regarding our concerns, but they skillfully replied to them. We had an agreement and didn't want to have legal troubles over them. So we paid

    I can't *prove* it's a scam, but I can give you a few reasons why it must be. Just connect the dots

    1) We got a bit over 30.000 downloads
    2) Pretty much all of the downloads on the day of promotion were from US. No banners work that way
    3) From those downloads we got none, zero, nil, none, NULL reviews. No ratings either
    4) Our database (that we use for push notifications) recorded very, very few new users. So the prmotional downloadees didn't even run the app
    5) Only US rankings were affected
    6) We observed the rankings over time - it was absolutely clear that downloads were sent in packets. We'd get a major jump in rankings then nothing would happen for some time, then another massive jump. Normal users don't download in sync, do they ?

    We've also seen offers like:
    X amount of downloads in US AppStore for specific price. How do you provide an exact amount of downloads if not by using bots ?

    So in short - this exists and it's ruining the rankings

    Do I condemn those that use it ? Yes and no. Those who started ruined the chances for the rest. So what do they do ? They adapt
     
  7. suren

    suren New Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    @uptimistik We don't use or create farms or bots for downloads or reviews.
     
  8. Vovin

    Vovin 👮 Spam Police 🚓

    Nov 28, 2009
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    #28 Vovin, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

    Well, maybe not you, but are you informed how your ad networks are really working?

    Or can you clearly deny what the thread opener said?

    Looking at the picture, he identified you as one of the companies which uses the fraud system, provided by the shady ad network he was talking about.

    But maybe you are successful... even the bigger companies can't simply hammer out 10M bucks for something as the StarFund. Was the StarFund a success, btw.?
     
  9. NinthNinja

    NinthNinja Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2011
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    Just by googling around various scripting forum sites you can pick up various posts where someone says they have created a load of iTunes accounts and can someone write them a script...

    It's not like this is exclusive to the big publishers. TBH anybody can do this and save themselves $5,000.

    But this is not the point of this post. Can this be stopped - you bet your bottom dollar it can and send a big message to Apple that the way rankings are achieved needs reviewing and changing into a fairer system.

    For this simple little thing to happen all you need to do is get a group of independent developers to work together. They basically create fake iTune Accounts, get a script into place (been developers this will not be a problem), and promote various non profit lite versions of some selective Apps (probably 50 Apps to get into the top 50 to make a point). This of course will be done out in the open with no underhandedness.

    Doing this will make that the App Store is a free market where any individual should have the same chance as the big players.
     
  10. AnonDev

    AnonDev Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    This bot stuff is simply profitable for Apple. Most of the games that use this method are freemiums. And what happens with 30% profit from each IAP purchased in a freemium game ?

    I'm not sure this would work. I'm quite sure though that Apple would ban the accounts of people involved in this

    Also - this has been going for many months. I don't believe that noone in Apple noticed this before. It's too big, there's too many apps doing it

    I honestly think that it's just Apple's way - the problem doesn't exist until either:
    a) There's money involved - e.g. TapJoy
    b) Media talks about it - everything else

    So Basically - OP did the right thing, PocketGamer noticed, I hope TA will have a front page post about it and Apple will react

    AppStore will never be a place of equality. Big developers can always advertise on TA and other websites and get some traffic that way. But I agree with the idea - we should be working together to make AppStore a better place for developers
     
  11. NinthNinja

    NinthNinja Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2011
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    #31 NinthNinja, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    Even though developers may be forced to go down the IAP purchase/freemium model to earn money from the App Store (including me) I think this model is harming the games industry.

    This all came to be because people think 99c is too much to pay for a game.

    All freemium games on the App Store could be killed overnight and cause a big massive shakeup.

    All you need to do is randomly jumble the free charts around by using scripting bots that choose non profit lite Apps.

    All it really takes is for some bored 13 YO hacker to do this. I would be pretty nervous now if I was an investment company who has bought into this App Store revolution.

    On the record I think this tactic/hack is wrong. I'm just predicting that this will happen because usually hackers like to exploit for the sake of chaos.
     
  12. AnonDev

    AnonDev Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    Oh, I'd really like to see that ! But would it work ? I doubt it

    Apple earns shitload of money from Freemiums, why would they hurt it ? Freemiums are here to stay

    The real problem is - how can smaller developers compete with the big guys, especially since the whole AppStore is so visibility-driven ? You need to be high in rankings to get massive amount of downloads, but to be high in rankings you need to gather tons of downloads in short time
     
  13. NinthNinja

    NinthNinja Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2011
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    The point I am making is that all it would take is one bored hacker to randomly jumble the free charts around. That alone would force Apple to address the problem - if they lose profits then big things will happen.

    But the point is that this exploit will be exploited by hackers who do not care about money but want to cause chaos. Because once the jumble happens it will always happen.
     
  14. Vovin

    Vovin 👮 Spam Police 🚓

    Nov 28, 2009
    6,514
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    Germany

    Apple is like Klondyke, in one way or another.
    As the big Gold Rush began, the people barely recognized that the real rush was already over and most of the gold already found new owners.
    A few people still manage to find a few gold nuggets, but the most walk away with empty hands.
    Still the fight for the last nuggets goes on and people use every dirty trick to get hold of them.
     
  15. Greyhoundgames

    Greyhoundgames Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
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    #35 Greyhoundgames, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    How is this at all profitable for apple?
    They have to pay for all this fake download bandwith(assuming the scripts actually download), but more importantly, if a fake game knocks a real game out of the top spot, the real game(which is likely a freemium game too) doesn't get the downloads and the fake game does. Net # of top 100 ranked spots is still 100 and now you have crap at the top which is prob less likely to get sales then something that got there legit.

    There is no "new spot" created in the top 100, its changing "apples" for "rotten apples"

    On a side note, I thought apple was putting usage stats as part of app ranking to combat this. When this went live, facebook appshot up for example.
     
  16. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    What happened to the supposed changes Apple was making to their ranking algorithm that caused all kinds of buzz last year? I thought they were reducing the importance of downloads and emphasizing user interaction with apps. Anyway, I otherwise agree with the unsurprised masses. I haven't trusted top charts from day one. The AppStore has a great search, and I use that far more than looking at top ranked apps.
     
  17. polygrafix

    polygrafix Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2010
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    Game Developer
    Las Vegas
    Exactly. Anyone can claim they helped these companies to achieve a high ranking because its not easily verified.
    Note: The thing that gets me is that Suren, neither admits or deny's the accusation.
    Since this is an open forum and discussing the subject, you would think this a place for one to be able to clear the air.

    Now before we all go on a witch hunt. I do agree with Suren's statements regarding that they do spend a LOT to be where they are. Its the same with any business. Superbowl ads cost millions of dollars for just a few seconds of air time. That's because it reaches a big audience and from that big audience, they acquire more sales. Thats just business. If any of us Indie developers hit it that big, I'm sure we would be re-investing in our own business to maintain that visibility.
     
  18. walterkaman

    walterkaman New Member

    Feb 5, 2012
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    I just want to say that I'm just an indie developer and it is not my focus to attack certain other developers. I am fully aware of how developers buy advertisement from different agencies to get installs as I have spent thousands of dollars on AdMob myself before. The point I want to get to is that with $5000, from my experience talking to AdMob, it is not possible to get anywhere close to the Top 25. There is clearly something odd with the way the person is guaranteeing a top spot. Also, I did specifically asked about this certain other top app (it's an app similar to my own app) as to whether they were their clients, and the person was pretty firm on saying No and said only these other 8 apps were their customers, so you can be the judge on that one.

    Again, all I am trying to do is to bring this issue to discussion and see what others' experiences are. It looked like there was someone else (AnonDev) who actually used a service similar to this and had his own findings.

    Also, I've been getting a lot of PMs on who the ad network is, I will not be disclosing their name like before, but I can say that it's different than the one that was posted earlier, it's not Gt****.com.
     
  19. Eli

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

    #39 Eli, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    The only way to "fix" these problems is by removing the possibility of profit from the App Store. Until then, it's all business, and everyone operates by a different moral compass regarding what is and isn't acceptable to make a buck.

    Something to consider though is that if Apple starts removing games that shoot up the charts via bot net downloads, they'll in essence give the owners of these bot nets the ability to remove whatever they want from the App Store. That might be an even more valuable service than chart boosting. For instance, if you were releasing a Tiny Tower clone, you could just pay someone to fire their bot net off to make Tiny Tower see a highly suspicious surge of downloads, thus clearing the way for your own Tiny Tower clone.
     
  20. AnonDev

    AnonDev Member

    Feb 6, 2012
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    THIS. +1, +1, +1

    Even if you're a morally good developer - there's only so much time you can watch other companies game the rankings until you start to think about it yourself

    The other part is - many of the biggest earners on the AppStore used bot-net services... If Apple were to ban developers for using such services, ultimately Apple would lose tons of profits. So that's a no go

    From what I've seen - Apple has removed some of the developers who've used suspicious methods extensively, but I didn't see them using the popular botnets. It all seems to be like "if you use something provided by a third party that other devs use as well - you're fine. But if you create something for yourself and use it just for your apps - you'll get banned"
     

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