Biggest FRAUD in the Top 25 Free Ranking

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

  1. moleki

    moleki Well-Known Member
    Patreon Gold

    May 22, 2009
    Probably the best way to remove this is by improving the ranking algorithm.

    For once, I think Google did it in a better way than Apple.
    On android, a bot system wouldn't work as efficiently. The first thing google did well is you can't easily download an app with your computer, you have to download it from your phone.
    The second think is Google's algorithm. I think Google nailed their algorithm, as opposed to Apple's. It takes several days for an app to climb, even a week on android whereas with apple's algorithm, an app could be skyrocketed to #1 in a day or two.
    The third thing Google did well is that their algorithm takes into account the usage. So if you download an app and delete, it will not be counted in the downloads. I think they also weigh their algorithm with more factors such as how long does the app stays on a phone, etc...

    I think Apple should definitely revise their algorithm, even if they had to instrument more the usage of every app.
  2. GameViewPoint

    GameViewPoint Active Member

    Feb 4, 2012
    But that to me that is just another way of demonstrating how important marketing is. You can have the greatest app in the world but if no one knows about it, then it won't get anywhere. But my point here is that, you need a good game for the marketing to be effective otherwise you are just throwing good money after bad.

    There seems to be a lot of pessimism in this thread, and obviously the app store is a very different place to what it was 4 years ago, but I still hold to that idea that regardless of what marketing tactics are used, if you truly (not just you and your mates like it) have a good product it will do well. I also have no issue with the freemium model. There's no barrier to entry, people can just start playing your game, and if they like it they spend money in it, and if they don't they won't, as apposed to paying to download something, and then finding out it's not what you expected.
  3. wendezeit

    wendezeit Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2010
    #43 wendezeit, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    Apple could prevent this by adding CAPTCHAs for suspected bot accounts. I can think of several metrics that could tell Apple if an account is probably fake, for example numerous downloads but never syncing with an actual iDevice. Edit: also IP addresses. These botnets probably don't have access to 30.000 distinct IP addresses.
  4. AnonDev

    AnonDev Member

    Feb 6, 2012
    Ah, yes. But that's against the Apple's idea of using the device. Apple's clients shouldn't bother with something so 'androidish'

    As for the rest - I'm absolutely sure that if Apple wanted to, they'd just ban all the bot accounts
  5. Silver Josh

    Silver Josh Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2008
    Captcha is so "androidish", right, and I wouldn't want to deal with that.

    On the other hand, I want you to remember that it's part of the business and every single field in which money are involved works this way.

    The music business, first of all, worked this way for decades.

    You won't stop it. Even if you do, they'll trick you once again.
  6. IndigoBanshee

    IndigoBanshee Member

    Feb 6, 2012
    Perhaps there's more that you all can do as a group? This is a pretty large site - why not use it to promote more indie games? Use the group system to put a group together whose purpose is to get the word out on indie games. Start threads on indie developers. Tweet and blog about them. Post them in Facebook updates. Be their marketing teams.

    Those big companies may have lots of marketing dollars, but a few of you are right when you said that a good indie game can jump ahead of the crappy heavily marketed big company ones (especially the clones).
  7. schplurg

    schplurg Well-Known Member

    You need to be confident - that's what got me through the whole dev process. However, you need to know what you're up against as well

    Just how many Top 25 spots are for sale in the App Store? Hmmm, maybe...I dunno...25? And how many companies are promising this? Hmmm, something smells, let me grab my abacus ;)

    I think the OP should post the name of the company. They're already making money, so not posting it won't change that, plus devs already know these companies exist...anyone can use Google. Exposing them as frauds seems more important than letting them go unchallenged. Just my opinion.
  8. schplurg

    schplurg Well-Known Member

    On the other side of this, I consider myself an honest person. Just for fun, ask yourself this (as will I):

    If someone offered you a guaranteed top 10 spot on the app store for $5K, and if you knew their technique was considered "cheating" (but not illegal), would you say no? Suppose they offered it to you for free?

    Keep in mind that this could be a million dollar decision and could literally change your life.

    Behind on the bills? Thinking about the year of hard work you put into this game? Thinking about all the utter bullshit you hear in advertisements every single day (miracle cures in a bottle, etc)? Hell, all the big guys are doing it. You can pay search engines for ranking.

    I have not used these services, partially because I figured they were just exaggerating their claims. I had no clue at the time that they used bot farms or anything that underhanded though.

    As a side question, what if you didn't know how they did it, but they guaranteed you a spot? In other words, would you pay for a spot on the top ten? Big companies do it with advertising dollars.

    I'm not interested in anyones answer here, just suggesting we all really, really think about it.
  9. GameViewPoint

    GameViewPoint Active Member

    Feb 4, 2012
    You see the problem I have with all of this is, I get how they get up there, but how do they stay ? if you have continious streams of funds to put into advertising that's fine, but if it's just a 1 time $5k, to get you into the top 25 surely your app/game has to have something about it to hold on to that space or even rise above? Of course I'm not condoning what's doing on, but it just seems to me that if the game wasn't any good, then it would just hit it's spot and then fall off the chart, no? Or is it a hit a critical mass of players kind of thing?
  10. schplurg

    schplurg Well-Known Member

    #50 schplurg, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
    Bolding mine (I'd say that "b" ultimately equals "a"). It's always and only about money. AnonDev has it right. Us small devs have morals. Big corporations do not have morals, they have attorneys. The attorneys tell them when they are appearing immoral and suggest action since bad press can equal lost profits.

    I remember when Apple got legally involved with something concerning a dev being ripped off by another company or some such thing (was it Tapjoy?)...people said, "See, Apple DOES care about us devs!"

    They don't. See AnonDev's "a" and "b" above.
  11. schplurg

    schplurg Well-Known Member

    I'm no expert, I just like to blab, but ya, it seems with some apps there is a critical mass thing. The example of the "Mirror App" I mentioned had a one star ranking, terrible reviews, yet it stayed around awhile. People must just grab stuff without thinking. I don't think it made the top 25, I can't remember. I think it was in the racing category which is how I noticed it. :confused:

    I agree that if a game is a stinker it should be a short lived ride up the charts. I dunno, I'll have to take a look at the top apps right now. However even a short life in the top 25 could make a profit, a very good one if it's a one-man dev in his bedroom.
  12. Mr Qwak

    Mr Qwak Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2010
    The thing that strikes me about all this, is that indie devs should perhaps spend more time thinking of creative ways that we can collaborate together for mutual benefit.

    Rather than concerning ourselves over how some are manipulating the rankings (you may spend a lot of time and energy, and still not get rid of the corruption).
  13. tarlen

    tarlen New Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    I'm kind of surprised no-one has posted todays update from the Apple Developer News RSS Feed:

  14. IntrinsicGames

    IntrinsicGames Well-Known Member

    Pretty interesting - seems like Apple has been paying attention to this thread or at least the reports based off it.


    One thing I'm wondering about from the OP is if the person who gave the offer actually works/ed with Crowdstar, or was just using them because their apps are at the top but doesn't legitimately work with them.
  15. headcaseGames

    headcaseGames Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    Mobile Game Developer
    Hollywood, CA
    "beating a dead horse dep't" most developers have no idea how to market or interest to really try hard. Most will never consider to team up, either.. the app market is pretty much every man for himself.
  16. MarsSpaceship

    MarsSpaceship Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    #56 MarsSpaceship, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
    I agree. Not to mention the illegal methods. A few days ago I stumbled on an application in the portuguese store. It was from an US-based developer. I started reading the comments in portuguese, my natural language. All comments were giving 5 stars. It was clear to me that those comments were translations by automated processes as google translate or whatever. The way of speaking the linguistic style and missing words (google frequently repeats the word in english, in the middle of the translated phrase, if a translation cannot be found for that word). All signs of a bot posting the comments. I reported that to Apple.

    @headcaseGames - I would consider teaming up. :D
  17. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2009
    I guess some people don't like to play fair :/ :(
  18. indavisual

    indavisual New Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    This reminds me of how games themselves die.

    Take mmorpg's for example. I played Lineage 2 for a couple years and it was all good for awhile. Then people started using bots and program called L2walker. Anybody could download it and setup bot trains with ease. All of the bots began taking all the hunting locations and killing everything in sight.

    Groups would form to kill the bots but it did not matter. They would just come right back and fill the spot again pushing out the real players.

    What happens is the game become a wasteland of greedy bot owners trying to squeeze every penny they can out while they kill the very market they are trying to live off of. Much like you see in the real world. If we did not have people fighting for our planet we would ring it dry and kill the very thing that feeds us.

    To bring this back to the App Store, I feel the same rings true in this case. If Apple allows this to happen then developers will not want to develop for the store anymore and they will go to a new platform. All the while you will have the greedy bot employers trying to ring every penny they can out of a market of ghost players. The App Store will turn into its own game to see who can run the most bots.

    #1 Botty Birds (324,543,234,887 downloads)
    #2 Tiny Bots (234, 234,123,554 downloads)
    #3 Greedy Bots (111,154,563,321 downloads)

    Sure everyone could jump on the bot bandwagon but then whats the point? It's not about creating quality games anymore. It's about skinning crap into something passable and having "American IBot" be judges on it.

    This is what I think. Our industry is young and strong. We can not let the corruption sink in. We have a chance to keep our industry a creative, progressive, engaging, and pure art form (or educational tool). We should not let the worst of so many other industry get into ours. It is hard to stop ourselves from being greedy when you feel overwhelmed by so much talent. Its easy to give in when you can see a dollar amount larger than any other you've seen and all it takes is to stab your market in the back. I know the "evil" choices being made are mostly by business men just trying to exploit what they can for their passion (money) but we can not allow that to continue.

    I don't know if that was inspirational or just rambling but I gotta go to dinner. So, someone else finish my thought please :p
  19. Fireball926

    Fireball926 Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2010
    MacRumors gave this thread a shout out in there article. As for the fraud can't wait to see those apps taken down!
  20. honkj

    honkj New Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    #60 honkj, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
    it doesn't have to be this way...

    it doesn't have to be this way... why have an overall "top 25" in the first place?? Instead Apple should have a " top 25 " of each sub sub sub category... Apple needs a whole bunch more sub categories anyway. Also why base it on number of downloads? just base it on number of positive reviews (over some interval period so Angry Birds is not always in the top of it's sub sub sub category), and only have a ranking when someone leaves a written review. then have a method and means to encourage people to write reviews.

    actually hire people to go through and weed out the fake reviews... it is pretty hard for a botnet to write a bunch of positive reviews that isn't pretty obvious that a botnet wrote them....

    for the fake reviews by the network of "hired guns" lets say... those same Apple reviewers have a program that lists out patterns of names/company/app by each review to weed out the "hired" review writers that the big boys will try.... that would be so simple to see patterns of fake reviews, that i am amazed that Apple is not doing it now? (who cares about the few fake reviews that get through, the purpose is to catch the large numbers of fake reviews by hired guns) why take years to change the way you do things in the App Store? upheavel can't be worse than what we have now? and what we have now is seriously horrific.

    this would work wonders on paid apps... maybe even a few more measures for free apps... like actually have a staff of 100 reviewers at Apple... all with 1000 points... they can assign those points in any amount to any app, and if a new one comes along that they like, they can shift points to the new one.... (this is ontop of "organic" reviews)

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