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Possible AppStore review scam - Dev banned

12-07-2009, 06:40 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: London
Posts: 99
Possible AppStore review scam - Dev banned

This is my first thread in the dev forums. I felt I needed to spread the word about this. I review applications and write about the iPhone world as a hobby.

I recently found out about an AppStore publisher accused of self promoting their apps with the use of promocodes. There have been previous complains about this same people releasing apps very similar to popular ones in the photography category. Even Apple featured their apps as Staff Pics.

Glyn Evans made public the concerns of SCW about Chinese developer Molinker using their promocodes to give five star rating to their apps. Reviewers only wrote about Molinker apps, and SCW contacted Phil Schiller with supporting data. This last Sunday Molinker was expelled from the App Store and so did their more than 1000 apps. AppAdvice has mentioned the scam. I have contacted the dev to comment about the situation, since Apple has not stated why Molinker is not available in the AppStore.


I bring this issue here to give some publicity and also to see what devs feel could be a solution for unethical practices such as fake reviews and app cloning. I don't want to discourage devs from doing their job, but to let you all know that there are users that care about things like this and are willing to do something about it. This has come from the effort of app users. We are very critic for good and for bad.

Last edited by appfreak; 12-07-2009 at 06:44 PM.
12-07-2009, 07:14 PM
#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by appfreak View Post
I bring this issue here to give some publicity and also to see what devs feel could be a solution for unethical practices such as fake reviews and app cloning. I don't want to discourage devs from doing their job, but to let you all know that there are users that care about things like this and are willing to do something about it. This has come from the effort of app users. We are very critic for good and for bad.
This actually doesn't surprise me. As a dev, I'm not sure what a viable solution would be. I personally tend to rate apps very high simply because I have ONE criteria:

am I entertained?

I don't make the effort to rate the majority of apps, so those that actually get a rating or review from me are legit- I genuinely enjoyed your app enough to rate it.

I have never rated an app low. Some of the most popular games, I just don't get. That doesn't mean they aren't good games, they just whoosh right by me. I'm not going to penalize a developer for developing a game that I don't get- obviously I wasn't the target market.

Sorry, I got off the subject there.

We have almost 30,000 Flickitty users out there (the majority are free), yet our ratings do not reflect that. We have heard mostly good things about Flickitty, and yet again, our ratings do not reflect that.

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone

12-07-2009, 07:58 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
I've seen a couple of devs here specifically offering codes in exchange for guaranteed 5-star reviews. I asked one of them if he thought it was considered shilling and he replied saying it was a fair trade and no one was under obligation to take up the offer.

I didn't fall for it.

  /l、
゙(゚、 。 7 ノ
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12-08-2009, 03:13 AM
#4
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 131
Hmmm... there's this game I've been checking out for some time, but the shills (a term I learned in the forum!) are keeping me away. Right now the game has very high ratings (close to 5 stars, out of 100+ ratings) but the (70+) reviews are all by the devs or thru other people whose only record of reviews is for that game. There was one who raised the issue of incompatibility with his device, so it's the latter that concerns me. I can imagine that eventually someone might try and have that app taken off the App Store because the shills are quite blatantly obvious.

Last edited by enuhski; 12-08-2009 at 05:24 AM.
12-08-2009, 03:39 AM
#5
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Munich, Germany
Posts: 754
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MidianGTX View Post
I've seen a couple of devs here specifically offering codes in exchange for guaranteed 5-star reviews. I asked one of them if he thought it was considered shilling and he replied saying it was a fair trade and no one was under obligation to take up the offer.
i had one user contact me - asking for a code and he'll leave a review. i think that's fine - they can leave a 1 to 5 star review honestly - but what eventually happened is that they didn't leave a review at all.. i was scammed it was only 1 promo code - no big deal, i would have given it to him anyhow - he didn't have to lie about it.

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12-08-2009, 04:06 AM
#6
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 28
My experience has been people tend to ignore the number of 5 star ratings in the reviews and instead judge the game by how many (or few) 1 and 2 star ratings it has received.

In a round about way this ends with a very similar result, but it's a shame to have to ignore all those legitimate 5 stars.

AnthonyS
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12-08-2009, 05:31 AM
#7
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyS View Post
My experience has been people tend to ignore the number of 5 star ratings in the reviews and instead judge the game by how many (or few) 1 and 2 star ratings it has received.

In a round about way this ends with a very similar result, but it's a shame to have to ignore all those legitimate 5 stars.
Conversely, there will always be very low ratings for highly rated and very popular games that come off suspicious to me as well. I tend to be dismissive if it's subjective in nature - boring, horrible, etc. But if the issue is with crashing or loading, I check the date it was made (because the game might have possibly been updated based on such feedback) and if there are a number of reviews all pertaining to the same issue.

Personally, I enjoy reading 5 star reviews, and I am also generous with giving them. I always make it a point to include my suggestions for improvement in my reviews on the App Store to assure would be customers that the review itself is legit and not just indiscriminate praise.
12-08-2009, 08:03 AM
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by enuhski View Post
Hmmm... there's this game I've been checking out for some time, but the shills (a term I learned in the forum!) are keeping me away. Right now the game has very high ratings (close to 5 stars, out of 100+ ratings) but the (70+) reviews are all by the devs or thru other people whose only record of reviews is for that game. There was one who raised the issue of incompatibility with his device, so it's the latter that concerns me. I can imagine that eventually someone might try and have that app taken off the App Store because the shills are quite blatantly obvious.
Is that the A-Yo Sushi game? I was looking at that one myself, looked like it might be cute. EVERY damn review for that game was made by a shill dev account, except for the guy with the one star complaing that it would not start for him. I took the time to click on every reviewer name in the 3 pages there, and sure enough, it is true the only legit guy is the one who couldn't get it to run. I didn't have time to dig through all of "Nate Games" offerings, but I would be willing to be that they do the same thing on all of them...

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12-08-2009, 08:32 AM
#9
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 5,678
A forum member made a thread asking if he should buy it or not, so I looked at it and found the reviews suspicious, so like you, I looked at the people leaving the reviews. Lo and behold they only reviewed apps by that dev
12-08-2009, 09:20 AM
#10
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderData View Post
Is that the A-Yo Sushi game? I was looking at that one myself, looked like it might be cute. EVERY damn review for that game was made by a shill dev account, except for the guy with the one star complaing that it would not start for him. I took the time to click on every reviewer name in the 3 pages there, and sure enough, it is true the only legit guy is the one who couldn't get it to run. I didn't have time to dig through all of "Nate Games" offerings, but I would be willing to be that they do the same thing on all of them...
one of the members did say their other games are good and the devs are pretty nice... but i am still waiting for some confirmation that the game is actually working - since one person did say it didn't run on his device. in this case i'm practically disregarding the glowing reviews because the source is suspicious, and it would be just a pain to buy something that doesn't work (regardless of our standards of what is a cheap or expensive game relative to our living standards, etc) or crashes occasionally.

if someone were to post a review and say, "oh this game is boring" i'd actually be okay with that, because that would mean the game is running just fine (whether on the iphone/touch) and liking the game or not is subjective anyway.

i saw another thread pointing fingers at gameloft padding its reviews as well. :O

well, i might get the game soon and i'll let you know how it goes. i'm thinking about holding out since the app might go on sale but in any case, i'm curious about it and it looks like a cute game. who knows how long it will be on the app store with all the shills?

btw, what happened to those who bought the apps that were removed from the store?

Last edited by enuhski; 12-08-2009 at 09:22 AM.