Xbox Indie Games Hit with Ratings Abuse Claim
When Xbox Live's Indie Game channel first launched as Community Games, the only way to find good games was to try them all. When the service was relaunched as Indie Games, a ratings system was introduced that made finding gems infinitely easier. Until now, the ratings system has worked swimmingly, but one developer discovered the system has recently been abused.
The trouble began when the Facebook page for College Lacrosse 2011 asked its fans to rate the game highly so it could be ranked among the top-rated games. Fans cooperated, but then commenced to rate other games with one-star reviews to help College Lacrosse 2011 move up more quickly. Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games caught on to the manipulation when he saw several one-star reviews start popping up for his game Cthulhu Saves the World. “For something like Z0MB1Es (the #1 rated game) which has over 50,000 ratings, a sudden influx of 1-star ratings isn't going to do much, but since our game has been out for less than 3 months and has far fewer ratings (about 1500) than the other top rated games, it affected us big time and we dropped 5 ranks,” wrote Boyd in a Gamasutra blog post.
Since fans weren't instructed to rate other games negatively, technically no one has done anything wrong. The College Lacrosse page has even stressed that fans avoid giving other games bad scores.
There's no word yet on what action Microsoft will take, but they are reportedly looking into the issue. While it's amazing to think that there are Xbox Indie Games with actual influential fanbases now, this kind of abuse throws the entire ratings system into question. Microsoft may need to make changes going forward, such as requiring users to buy the games before they can rate them.
All that said, College Lacrosse 2011 is actually a pretty sweet game.