Game Dev Tycoon developer Greenheart Games has published a blog post to discuss recent weirdness with the game’s Android reviews. Greenheart’s founder, Patrick Klug, explains that over the two weeks since launch a huge majority of positive reviews were quietly removed by Google, bringing the game’s rating from 4.96 to 4.92 out of five. Not a huge drop, but one which gives the game an overall rating of 4.9 rather than the flat 5 it enjoyed during its first few days.
77 per cent of positive reviews were culled, leading to a puzzled Klug investigating Google’s anti-fake reviews algorithm. Getting in contact with the tech giant resulted in a swift reply, but didn’t elucidate the situation beyond confirming that yes, this happened manually and on purpose.
Klug suspects this is all down to blanket policies which cover both free-to-play and premium apps:
“My best guess is that Google uses the same algorithm to identify fake reviews on both free-to-play games and premium games.
“I’m sure there are heaps of services out there that would add hundreds of very positive reviews for cheap on a free-to-play title because cheaters could setup hundreds of fake Google Play users and don’t have to fork out money to purchase a game to review it. Google probably invented and tuned the algorithm to remove these kind of fake reviews from free-to-play titles, but for a premium title, where everyone pays $5 to even be allowed to write a review, this just doesn’t make any sense.”
The developer sees this as disrespecting legitimate players of its game, which we think is a perfectly valid response. But that doesn’t explain how to prevent something like this from happening again. The investigation continues, and you can find more information on Klug’s blog post, where anyone with any insight is invited to give their thoughts.