Breaking the rules appears to work

I just noticed that a new game “4 pics 1 word” was high in the charts. I then noticed its rating and saw that it was 4.9!! then I looked at how many ratings they had and it was nearly half a million. Given that its had between 1 and 5 million downloads that’s around between 10% and 50% of people rating - way too high. I suspected something fishy was going on so I downloaded the game, played it a few times and then was presented with blatant bribery. It had a coins collecting system and I was presented with a dialog which said something like “Give us a 5 star rating and you will get 150 free coins”. Maybe google will ban the game or get the publisher to change the wording, but in the mean time this very average game has probably made some good money.

Of course, since there is no API to determine if someone gave you a 5 star review, the user can click ‘OK’ and then just cancel.

Btw… I always just… uhh… LOVE… yeah, that’s the word… LOVE it when I diss an app, and see crap like the following in it:

DefaultHttpClient localDefaultHttpClient = new DefaultHttpClient();
HttpPost localHttpPost = new HttpPost(“”);
BasicNameValuePair localBasicNameValuePair1 = new BasicNameValuePair(“deviceId”, str1);

… followed by email, language, appId, os, osVersion, etc.

Seriously… WTF do they need to post all that data back to their own private server for WITHOUT telling the user they are doing it or allowing the user to agree/disagree?

just tried to find this game after reading this post. Have Google pulled it?!

Google clearly states that rating manipulations are prohibited (Google Play):

Developers also should not attempt to change the placement of any Product in the Store by rating an application multiple times, or by offering incentives to users to rate an application with higher or lower ratings.

However there are still many apps that do that. Google seem to be banning apps if they notice the violation – with the app in question it was absolutely obvious. You can’t simply get 4.9 rating no matter how cool your app is.

4.9 is possible… I believe Angry Birds had a perfect 5.0 at one point. However the rate of downloads to ratings is the problem… WordHero for example asks users to rate the app fairly after 3 days AND 7 loads have passed. 1.6 million downloads and 36k ratings… roughly 2%.

That app had something HORRENDOUS … like 1 million downloads and 400k ratings. SO EASY to spot.

So they did what they do to any website/app that tries to manipulate search rankings… NUKED FROM HIGH ORBIT ! hehehehe

Looks like the banned it!

Yeah, but did they ban the app, or the developer account and all other apps too ?

Inquiring minds want to know… because if they only banned the app… and it took 3 weeks to notice it… and the app had IAP… they could have made a few $100k.

Even if Google banned the developer account, they could probably sue Google to get the money if they were a legit USA based business.

It was the only app on the account. I’m betting that some of their competitors issued fake DMCA claims or reported the app. There are 4-5 copy cat apps that popped up within 7 days of the original “4 pics” app being published.

The Google Play store is one of the most brutal battle fields. It’s kind of like a modern day gold rush, except when someone wants your gold claim they blow your brains out. lol

You mention 1M downloads and 400K ratings - now if that is just from the incentive of 150 free coins, that itself is phenomenal user response.

Users would not generally bother with such stuff. Unless the game was phenomenal - but even that would not get this type of response.

Usually with 1M installs, nearly 50% or so users would just uninstall the app, so it is surprising they have 40% bothering to rate !

Well, the game is an interesting puzzle to play. I played at least 5 rounds and my time/attention span is low.

I believe what happened was:

  1. REALLY nice icon. Serious professional work. This means users notice it in the list
  2. Super high rating due to download/rating ratio means it was in the top5 in the list
  3. top5 = MASSIVE organic traffic … hence the million installs.

Assuming they managed 100k DAU and $0.1 DARPU (about average for 1mil installs and industry average for DARPU), that means they were making $10k/day++. Assuming it ramped up linearly, that is still 21 days x 10k x 0.5 = $105k.

That’s decent enough money to attract a LOT of sharks :frowning:

Imagine how much you’d crap yourself if you made it like that app did and in such a short time. You would be waiting for the sharks…
I have seen many devs do what they did, i.e break the rules, sometimes big time, make a ton of revenue and then get banned/get saturated by sharks. They can make a killing.

So, in that case, it is only worth it if you have an app that is at least 6 man-months worth of work to create… in which case, you can be sure the sharks will take at least 1+ month to replicate it (even if only as a shitty one!).

A better question is… what would happen if a company like Zynga pulled something like this ? Would they get a nasty email, or get the app pulled ?

It actually only took the copy cats about 6-7 days to copy the original “4 pics, 1 word” app. When it was still listed on AppBrain (yesterday) I looked up when it was launched (late January) and the first one to copy it was this one ( 4 Pics 1 Word: What’s the Word | AppBrain Android Market ) around January 28-30th or so…then these guys on Feb 1 (What’s the Word? | AppBrain Android Market) and a bunch of others in early February.

Yeah, but let’s be honest… there is not a whole lot there :slight_smile: The real effort is in grabbing all the images, and even that could be done in an automated way. Grab a dictionary file with a list of hononyms (words that can mean more than one thing)… feed that to an image search tool. Auto resize/etc. Blam! You just auto built all the data needed. Now you need an icon and a few activities.

That’s assuming you don’t just rip off the data from the original APK. :frowning:

It is getting to the point where it is better to build the tech into a online server and a thin client downloads it. Implement HMAC or something so the protocol is more difficult to syth and rape the server. Might buy you a few extra days depending on how hardcore these guys are…

Hi everyone, I’ve just signed up to comment here, seems to me that something more interesting is going on with this game.

Day or two after the game has disappeared from Google Play, new version with new content has been launched with slightly modified package name, see:
Originally, there was .en instead of .us at the end of package name. Users seem to be surprised by the quick end of the first version, and excited about the new version at the same time.

I have no idea: did Google actually remove the first version of the game? Or do guys from Lotum just acting on their plan?

You could try… asking them. :slight_smile:

HAHAHAHA… 10-50k downloads with 12k reviews… ban-hammer in 3…2…1…

Day after publishing, the game has 100-500k downloads (and 14k ratings).

He probably put a notice to users of the old version where to find the new version?

Yeah… just run an advert showing where to get the latest version… it is the smart thing to do !