First up, here's a quick review of the Pickford Brothers' Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint on iPhone and iPad by me: It's brilliant: SPOnG Score: 98%. It appears, however, that developers are being offered the chance to pay for ratings and 'AppStore Visibility'.Magnetic Billiards
co-developer Ste Pickford has blogged his surprise at this sort of rigging behaviour:
"It was while basking the warmth of a positive critical response (for Magnetic Billiards
), 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," he says.
"I was suspicious, but curious", he continues, "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.)"
All good. So, let's see what prices the 'App Store visibility guy' was asking:
"$100 for 100 App Store ratings and 20 written reviews," yes, that's right, written reviews.
"$200 for 200 App Store ratings and 45 written reviews."
"$300 for 300 App Store ratings and 70 written reviews."
Ste is righteously shocked, "Woah!... Is this the kind of thing that goes on?"
He is also angry, "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?"
Of course, he didn't bother to take up the offer. You can read his entire post here and see what did happen. In fact, I'd recommend it.
Are you as surprised as Ste Pickford? Do you trust AppStore reviews? Do you trust any reviews? Tell us in the comments.