Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Wed, 03 Aug 2011
Subject: Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint
Earlier this week we put out a press release announcing that we'd received 100 5-star ratings, and nearly 70 glowing reviews, for Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint on the UK App Store.
John and have been absolutely blown away by this response - both the universally positive reaction to the game and the effort that such a large proportion of our players have gone to in rating and reviewing the game. Our downloads have been OK, but not amazing yet, so the number of App Store reviews we've got really stands out.
Predictably we've been comparing our ratings to other games released around the same time, and been sneakily delighted by how much higher our ratings have been. Only games that have been out for a much longer time than us seem to have more ratings, which seems fair enough.
It was while basking the warmth of a positive critical response, and wondering how exactly to turn ratings into dollars, that my good mood was punctured by an email from somebody offering their services to "improve our visibility" on the App Store.
I was suspicious, but curious.
Curious because I've been asking pretty much every iOS developer I know for tips and advice (and every one of them, to a man, has been brilliantly forthcoming and helpful), so I'm always ready to listen to anyone who might be able to help us reach a wider audience for our game.
Suspicious because since releasing the game and firing out press releases to every review site I can find, I've soon learned that pretty much the only review sites who ever reply to emails are the ones who come back with a price list for the different reviews they offer. (Yes, really! I'd pay for straight advertising for a game, but I'd never pay for a review.)
Well, the "App Store visibility" guy emailed me straight back with his price list:
$100 for 100 App Store ratings and 20 written reviews
$200 for 200 App Store ratings and 45 written reviews
$300 for 300 App Store ratings and 70 written reviews
Is this the kind of thing that goes on?
We spent months and months polishing our game, beta testing it, tweaking it, fixing bugs, responding to criticism and generally doing everything we could to make the game as good as possible, and our reward was a very hard-earned 100 5-star ratings. Someone else can throw any old app out there, then just drop $100 to get the same thing?
If App Store ratings and reviews can be paid for, can they be trusted?
Needless to say I didn't take this person up on their generous offer. And looking around the App Store, there don't seem to be many games with 100 or more ratings that don't look like they've been around long enough to deserve them. Maybe nobody has ever taken this guy up on his offer? And to be fair, he didn't promise *good* ratings or *good* reviews either.
It would be nice to think that Apple detects this kind of thing, and weeds it out. Maybe they do, and maybe apps that generate 100 5-star ratings overnight are pulled from the store.
Yikes, I hope our phenomenal critical response doesn't mean that people think we paid for those ratings!
» Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint - Now Available on the App Store!