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Time to change "App approval"?

02-19-2012, 01:34 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 44
Time to change "App approval"?

After seeing crap rip-off after crap rip-off climb the charts with nothing but stolen icons or screen shots to support them I'm wondering if it's time for developers to team up and either have Apple remove completely the app store approval process, or ask for it to be made unbelievably strict. It seems the place we're in now is nothing more than a mechanism to delay releases and accomplishes absolutely nothing.

"Temple Jump" recently went to #1 on the overall paid charts, and a new game named "Temple Guns" appears to be quickly climbing the charts today as well. These types of scams provide no value, and will only deter users from trying out unknown games if they get burned.

A third option(and maybe the best) is to remove any approval process, but to rank apps not based on download numbers, but instead a metric that ranks apps based on popularity, user ratings, and even with some tweaks from Apple, how "sticky" they are. With this method, an app being rated 1 stars by everyone(as these scams typically are) would be excluded from rankings, they could possibly even display a warning to the user before installation that this application is rated unusually low and it may be a scam.

Whatever the solution, it's time for developers to tell Apple that enough is enough. These practices by scammers are reducing the brand of the App Store, and hurting all of us.
02-19-2012, 01:42 PM
#2
If they took out the approval process the store would implode with spam. As for similar titles/ripoffs... well... first mover advantage only lasts so long unfortunately.

02-19-2012, 01:47 PM
#3
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 44
I sort of think you aren't aware of what first mover advantage is, or you aren't aware what "Temple Jump" and "Temple Guns" are...

My point about there being no approval and changing their rankings would hopefully take care of the pointless approval process as it exists today(spam apps still abound). It would also provide more relevant chart ranking since spam apps being given 1 stars would quickly remove them from any ranking while simultaneously warning users they are probably about to download a scam application.
02-19-2012, 02:37 PM
#4
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
how strict should such a process be.. like on xbox live where there are only a handfull of release slots every year?

the approval process is not about quality.. and screenshots are not part of the approval process, but if people buy games no screenshots or only a title screen showing its their own fault..

you can buy Chinese iphone knock offs from the internet and if people would not buy them they would not been produced..

so who is at fault here? the power is with the customer.. if they don't even have the simplest form of common sense and can differentiate between company x and individual y.. its their own fault..

in the end even games like temple jump have content behind them, no matter the quality.. and therefore it got approved..

now if developer x has a problem with product y of someone else he can take it up with apple.. which everyone can do if he is entitled to..
02-19-2012, 02:43 PM
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhspaybar View Post
A third option(and maybe the best) is to remove any approval process, but to rank apps not based on download numbers, but instead a metric that ranks apps based on popularity, user ratings, and even with some tweaks from Apple, how "sticky" they are.
Apple actually does this, though not to the full extent as what you're suggesting. The algorithm that ranks apps is a weighted combination of downloads within the hour, over the past few days, user engagement, and likely a few other factors which are unknown, but could include star ratings. Nobody outside of Apple really knows the breakdown though, and most likely the heaviest weight is on the number of downloads.

Gold Miner Go! - The Official Gold Miner game comes to the App Store for the very first time!

Developers of Engaging Portable Games, a part of Grab Games
02-19-2012, 03:02 PM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhspaybar View Post
I sort of think you aren't aware of what first mover advantage is, or you aren't aware what "Temple Jump" and "Temple Guns" are...

My point about there being no approval and changing their rankings would hopefully take care of the pointless approval process as it exists today(spam apps still abound). It would also provide more relevant chart ranking since spam apps being given 1 stars would quickly remove them from any ranking while simultaneously warning users they are probably about to download a scam application.
The latter.
02-19-2012, 06:39 PM
#7
I humbly think you are posing the wrong solution to the real problem. Yes, App Store approval is arbitrary and doesn't assure quality despite the representation but it is very difficult to make it so because it is always subjective, they might know what the customers want and enjoy more than a developer, some business reasons may factor in their reviewing, it may be gamed via Apple employee corruption, etc. But it is still better than nothing.

The indie developer community should be focusing instead on ideas and approaches to remove the reliance on the ranking for sales the App Store has and see if they can get Apple to adopt some of them.

For example, one problem with the current system is that the rankings only show case a few and for all practical purposes hide everything else. So apps or either hits or they die. Very little middle ground that justifies the development costs. It certainly doesn't promote growing popularity over a long period of time with well-designed apps. This is not good for indie developers at all even if they come up with apps that are 100 times better than an existing apps that game the system or have a good marketing budget.

There are simple retailing techniques used at other online retailers (not other app stores) that are designed to push out as many of their goods as possible as long as people like them, not artificially create quick winners and losers as the Apple AppStore does which promotes gaming the system. The hope for the indie developer community depends on somehow making Apple change to the former from the latter.
02-19-2012, 08:08 PM
#8
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 2
It is frustrating because we assume that the approval process will protect us from all these things but in reality it just isn't feasible. One reviewer cannot know the entire contents of the store, nor is there a simple way to determine when a game is "too derivative" of another, or even to know which one was actually conceived first.

It seems like the recommended reviews could be used more strongly in the ranking, considering the #7 US paid app:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pokemon-yellow/id501950963?mt=8

Or even Zynga's latest, as discussed in another thread:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dream-heights/id477752455?mt=8
Very interesting as the recommended reviews are all 1 star, yet the average is 4.5 (US Free rank#12).

Just a thought. I think most of us would like to see some changes in the store.
02-19-2012, 09:27 PM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revaerie View Post
It is frustrating because we assume that the approval process will protect us from all these things but in reality it just isn't feasible.
Not to be snarky or condescending but the app approval process has never been to protect the developer. It has been to protect Apple's image and ecosystem and to a smaller extent protect the customer but primarily as it applies to maintaining the image. I am sure you will agree that it is not a solution to all that is wrong with the AppStore.

I am not sure what you mean by recommended reviews. If you mean the helpful (or not) flags one can register in iTunes (and NOWHERE else), then that system is as heavily gamed as anything in the AppStore. In fact, most of the regular users are not even aware of what it does in the order of reviews seen. Sometimes, I think it is only the developers and their competition that uses it to re-order the reviews. So using that for any ranking will only promote more gaming of the system.

It would be far better to have a retail outlet that doesn't depend so much on rankings but just lets people find apps easily and allows comparison shopping. For example, if one went to the Zynga app and saw so many negative reviews, one should be able to see a list of similar apps on that page (not also bought which is useless) so they can quickly decide which ones they want to buy amongst them. That way even new apps can gain visibility and if they are better than incumbent top-ranked apps will quickly raise in the ranks. Just this change will make developers focus on building better apps than playing the ranking game. This is what is behind some of the online retailers who are interested in pushing all of their products to let customers choose, not artificially creating winners and losers like Apple does.

But I am not sure Apple has that kind of retail in their genes since their own business model is buzz and image based.

In terms of copyright protection, developers can send a copyright violation notice to Apple if they feel there is a copyright violation. Patents can help protect innovative things but most developers may not be in a position to enforce it against large companies.

In the case of Zynga's app you linked, enough people (especially developers because they could be next) are outraged about the blatant copying of the concept that they have made sure to play that helpful flag knowing that it will order the reviews. But as you can see from the total ratings, it doesn't matter for Zynga as they, like most savvy or big developers, have mastered the rating game.

The unfortunate thing is that most non-developer users don't care about copyrights or intellectual property. So if a developer rips off another and sells it at a cheaper price or free, customers will gladly take it regardless of the rip-off complaints. No one cares about copyrights and intellectual property rights unless they are the ones who created the intellectual property or stand to benefit from it. There are a lot more of consumers and copiers than innovators.
02-19-2012, 10:41 PM
#10
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 44
Wow, just realized now that 2 of the top 10 apps on the paid charts are scams. At some point this has to damage Apple's brand enough that they come up with a solution...don't they?