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An Exposť on an App Store Villain and the 50 Promo Code Giveaway

08-13-2009, 03:18 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Miami Beach, FL
Posts: 202
An Exposť on an App Store Villain and the 50 Promo Code Giveaway

My name's Kevin and I'm the guy behind Candywriter. Last March I decided to try my hand at creating what I intended to be the best blackjack app on the App Store. It arrived on the App Store in June under the name "World of Blackjack Pro" and has since been renamed to Blackjack World Pro (BWP).

Today, I have 50 promo codes to the latest version and I'm going to give them all away at the end of this story; but first, I'd like to share with you an unfortunate experience I've had as a developer in the hyper-competitive App Store. As the iPhone gaming faithful, perhaps you'd be interested in a first-hand account of some of the antics that go on behind the scenes as a developer in this market.

Within two weeks of BWP's release on the App Store, it had garnered very positive feedback from users. Originally a $5 app, I knew from experience that it was unlikely that anyone would pay $5 and then immediately delete the app while rating it one-star on delete; however two people on the US store had done just that. Suspicious, I performed a little investigation of other apps in the blackjack space, and within literally 5 minutes, identified the two accounts that rated BWP one-star (back in the day, iTunes used to show you rate-on-delete ratings if you pulled up an account's profile). Both were clearly from the developer of the app, BlackJack 3-Hand Edition, a guy named Doron Kramarczyk.

I took screenshots (see below).

Here he has bought BWP (for $5, thanks, Doron) and deleted it rating it one star:

Brandishing another account, he has rated two of his apps with 5-stars and again purchased BWP and rated it one-star on delete:

At that point I was also struck by how bizarre it seemed that the BlackJack 3-Hand Edition app had almost all 5-star reviews even though the graphics looked as though someone on a bad acid trip had puked all over the interface (incidentally, the spelling and overall grammar in the app's description also support the acid trip theory).

Anyway, "so what," I thought. If someone wants to cheat and go to the time of creating dozens of fake accounts to artificially inflate their iTunes rankings, so be it. I honestly never viewed his app as competition anyway. I just wanted the 1-star reviews removed from BWP. I emailed Doron and sent him my evidence in screenshot form. Caught red-handed, he promptly removed the reviews.

Time passed. Last Saturday morning, a new one-star review had popped up for BWP and had been left by none other than Doron:


This developer or another in the BlackJack arena is playing nasty games, accusing other products of falsifying reviews when it seems this other developer is the one with poor ethics. The poor ethics review comes from an account which has not reviewed any other products, and anonymous one star reviews have also been popping up.

This one-star attack all started about a month ago, when 3-Hand BlackJack had a $.99 sale and the quality and price of our game brought it to the number 6 spot on the top-100 casino games. This seems to have upset other developers and out of nowhere 1 star bogus reviews began to come up to try to slander a better product.

I did not want to write this sort of review myself, but I need to bring this situation to your attention. I will remove this post if this developer removes his bogus reviews.

We have a FREE (ad-based) version of 3-Hand BlackJack on the AppStore, so if you think our reviews are fake give it a try, and see that they are not..

That morning, Doron had also left the same exact review for the other top-selling blackjack app in the store, 21 Pro. I had a chat with Jim from Avalinx, the developer of the very well-made 21 Pro. Avalinx indicated previous run-ins with Doron. We agreed to jointly report Doron to Apple.

Besides reporting the activity to Apple, I toyed with the idea of writing an article about this experience. A few days passed and BWP earned a couple of nice reviews, one from touchArcade's finest, Big Albie. These reviews made me feel better as they pushed Doron's slanderous rant slightly out of focus. I decided I would just forget about it.

Today, I woke up and noticed that Doron had REPOSTED the same review on BWP to ensure that it is the first review people see when viewing my app! If that isn't libel, I don't know what is. He even expresses in his own post that he doesn't know who is leaving the poor reviews of his software, but he clearly hasn't let that uncertainty stop him from vilifying my work.

With 13 apps currently on the App Store and the experience of being involved in the marketplace since Day 1, I can tell you that one-star reviews and "rate-on-deletes" are just a part of the business. He seems to think that every time he gets a negative review, it must be Candywriter, Avalinx, or another casino/card app developer.

Below are three screenshots from the respective iTunes pages of each of the three apps. Note the distinct difference in the distribution of ratings for BlackJack 3-Hand Edition.


21 Pro:

BlackJack 3-Hand Edition:

More proof of his abuse of the system is found in his "GameDev" and "Dorcino" iTunes accounts. Each time he updates an app, he uses these accounts, complete with 5-star ratings, to describe the details of his new version. Apple gives us the "What's New in This Version" area to accomplish that!

Please help Candywriter, Avalinx, and everyone else in the casino/card niche to compete fairly. Healthy competition will result in better games for you, the end user, and is the reason we get up and launch Xcode in the morning. The last thing we as developers should have to do is put up with negative energy caused by people who cheat the system. In order to help quash this type of activity, please visit Blackjack World Pro and 21 Pro on iTunes and select the "Report a Concern" option next to Doron's reviews. With your help we can bring this to the attention of Apple. In order to support this cause, I am giving away all 50 promo codes that I have to Blackjack World Pro to the first 50 people who "Report a Concern" and reply to this post.

Link to Blackjack World Pro

Link to 21 Pro
08-13-2009, 03:27 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 686
I don't doubt you but what you propose seems to be an arms race.

Better that people vote BA's review more helpful. Doing that for reviews gets them to the front faster.

08-13-2009, 03:28 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,934

As a bonus, I also marked both reviews as "not helpful"

I wrote to Apple that this was not a review, and that the same user is posting duplicates to multiple apps.

Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post

Worst idea ever!
08-13-2009, 03:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 5,712
This is bullcrap. I'll happily report a concern to the app store. I don't understand why people can't play by the rules. You guys already have to struggle to get noticed, you don't need unethical jerks making it harder. I hope you can get this resolved.

Tug Boat Minister of Propaganda
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08-13-2009, 03:29 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
Reported my concern. This kind of behaviour is dispicable, I'd have done it even without the promise of a promo code but I'll be greatful for one nonetheless.

Out of interest, I wrote:

"The author of this review has created several accounts trying to sabotage the competition and raise his own game's (BlackJack 3-Hand Edition) ranking. He has also given bad ratings to the game "21 Pro". His name is Doron Kramarczyk and such buisiness ethics should be dealt with accordingly. Thank you."

゙(゚、 。 7 ノ
 l、゙ ~ヽ
 じしf_, )ノ

Last edited by MidianGTX; 08-13-2009 at 03:33 PM.
08-13-2009, 03:30 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: everywhere
Posts: 37
Your right this is poor ethics, competition is normally a good thing as it drives people onto better things but what he's doing just stinks, lots of people use the reviews to decide whether to purchase and if it's being flagrently abused in this manner then people are just going to be put off purchasing based on reviews, in turn making the entire system that is designed to be useful, completely defunct

Last edited by Bigbro; 08-13-2009 at 03:38 PM.
08-13-2009, 03:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 212
Man I read your post and that sucks. People are crap sometimes. Hopefully apple resolves this as I hate unethical developers. I reported a concern on both the 21 pro and BWP reviews.
08-13-2009, 03:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Posts: 4,761
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post

As a bonus, I also marked both reviews as "not helpful"

I wrote to Apple that this was not a review, and that the same user is posting duplicates to multiple apps.
Did the same. Goodluck getting them removed.
08-13-2009, 03:31 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: planet iphone/ipad
Posts: 1,375
reported my concern!! hope i helped you out with this. also marked reviews as "non helpfull"

...........................GC: k1llyb1lly.......................
08-13-2009, 03:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 187
reported the reviews to apple!