Tag Archives: reviews

App Developers, Stop Asking for 5-Star Reviews!!

Back in 2012, I wrote a piece about the dos and don’ts of requesting and writing reviews on both Google Play and App Store. Nothing’s really changed from 5 years ago; people are still writing shitty useless one-word “reviews” and developers still put those prompts for a 5-star rating in their apps.

Once again, I will explain why I take issue to the latter:

  • The developer only has one thing in mind: A 5-star or perfect rating means better visibility in search results in the application’s store which ups the chances of it being downloaded. It doesn’t matter if the app is not right at the top of the results. The chances are many users LOOK for 4 or 5-star ones as it gives the impression that it’s a good product.
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  • Developers use the bullshit excuse that a 5-star rating will better motivate their team. If you actually valued user feedback, you’d be asking for critiques without tossing in the specific rating suggestion and incentive (or bribe as I like to refer to it as) to review.
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  • EVERYONE WANTS FREE STUFF — especially when it’s premium currency so of course most people will bite. Developers know this and they also know that they’ll fall for the following point.
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  • Users do what they’re asked to despite how they actually feel about the game.
    Poor user is made to think that the only way to get the gift is by giving the app full stars. :(
    Poor user is made to think that the only way to get the gift is by giving the app full stars. 😦

    PRO TIP: I’m unsure how it is with Android apps but with iOS, you don’t NEED to even rate or write a review to get a gift/bribe. Simply tap on the prompt box and allow the device to automatically switch to the app’s store page. Once there, don’t do anything! Just immediately go back to the app.
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    I believe this can also be applied to sharing on Twitter or other social services where you can just cancel the post and still receive the review incentive.

I leave 1-star reviews for companies that practices this sort of shit and call them out. I actually received a reply from one for a game I like playing which stated that players are free to give whatever rating they feel appropriate.

Well, gee. No shit. But as that example screenshot I provided showed, people a) rate 5-stars because they are told to, and b) believe giving a full rating is the only way to get the gift.

I’m not saying developers should outright stop asking for reviews and ratings or giving incentives. I’m only wishing they’d stop being dishonest and deceitful with the review prompts. Users will, in all likelihood, give the full rating and write positive comments if they’re happy with what they’re using. I think that should motivate the team more than all the blind & thoughtless 5-stars.

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Reviews of some iOS and/or Android apps~

Updated October 18th, 2014: Added a screencap of a review of Terra Battle and an revised review of Fable Age.

Updated September 4th, 2014: Added reviews for Manor Fable and Little Raiders: Robin’s Revenge. 😀

I guess I’ll make this post a repository for reviews that I submit to the App Store and Google Play. For some reason, they don’t always appear. I suppose they could have been rejected but when I see stupid useless 5-star reviews like “Because Kairosoft.” are accepted then I wonder why mine aren’t? Maybe it’s because I’m too honest and write down what I really think of the app?

Please note that I’m not linking to the pages of any of these apps on either iOS or Android stores unless they’re worthy of attention. 😛

Fable Age
Rating: star-ont

Terra Battle
Rating: star-ontstar-ontstar-ontstar-ontstar-ont

(Submitted to iTunes Canada)

A review of Terra Battle and a revised review of Fable Age
Click to see full version.

Hidden Object – Manor Fable
Rating: star-ontstar-ontstar-ont

(Submitted to Amazon Appstore)
This game is terrible to attempt to play through in one sitting. I’m on level 63 on Story mode and only 82% done. The problem with Manor Fable is that it reuses the same few scenaries. The only differences are the placement of some objects and the type of challenge you’re presented with when searching for them. For example, the game may just provide you with silhouettes of the items or write them out in text.

There’s also a match 3 puzzle mini game that serves to add to whatever plot the game has. Honestly, I just want to play the meat of it so I skip through all the dialogue scenes and the diary snippets you obtain from the mini game. I believe I would have cared about it more if the game brought back the story with more frequency instead of having the player randomly go through the same places repeatedly in between “cut scenes”. (Poor sleuths?)

Little Raiders: Robin’s Revenge
Rating: star-ontstar-ontstar-ont

(Submitted to iOS App Store)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that lengthy timers and “penalties” (re: units being knocked out means equipment breaking unless you have Unbreakable ones) exist to lure people into buying Ambers. In fact, growing the damn tree can take a while without them. At least there’s a ton of missions that’ll let you grind for materials and silver so there’s no need to restock those with premium currency.

Aside from the IAP trap, the game suffers from random crashes which loses game progression data when you load it again, a frustratingly annoying Wishing Well (I get way more weapons than shields and backpacks), and you can only invite Facebook friends? Kind of limiting the pool there.

GAMEPLAY TIP: For fun, I grew my tree through premium currency as you can buy them through the merchant and built facilities based on objectives not related to the “story”/map nodes. DO NOT DO THAT. If you have 2 Storage Warehouses and a Tavern, you will not have room for later facilities that you obtain through blueprints because the merchant will eventually run out of stock on Acorns.

Knights N Squires
Rating: star-ont

(Submitted to Google Play)
This game is seriously for little children or people with extremely low standards when it comes to defining a fun game. Knights N Squires is MIND NUMBING; you run down a single path from left to right slashing away at enemies. Sometimes you’ll throw in a block or a skill. There’s even an AUTO PLAY option cuz the game play is THAT simple. All the staples of freemium crap are here too like daily login bonuses, bringing along “friends” to help, lottery draws for allies, rare materials for upgrades, etc. There’s nothing innovative or interesting. Just cute packaging and a waste of time.

Star Trek Trexels
Rating: star-ont

(Submitted to iTunes Canada)
This should seriously be renamed Star Trek Notifications because that’s pretty much how it’s to be played …. UNLESS you have tons of money to spend on Dilithium Crystals so you can instantly finish everything. Otherwise, you’ll just be waiting and waiting AND waiting for facilities to finish building or upgrading, crew to finish retrieving artifacts or training, and probes to complete their scans of planets. So the natural way to play this is to assign crew to places and start construction on everything that you can and then exit the game. Once you receive notification(s) that something is done, THEN you can continue playing. What a joke!

Whatever happened to keeping players ACTIVELY engaged in a game? The only active thing you can do is shoot debris to replenish Command, Research, and Energy points. You may occasionally get Dilithium as well but the return on this mini shooting game is so small that it’ll take eons to build up stock that way.

Honestly, I don’t dislike the game THAT much to give it a 1-star rating. However, what I DO loathe is developers asking for 5-star ratings to inflate the app’s ranking at the store making it seem like it’s something worthy to be checked out. You want 5 stars? You EARN it, buddy.

The primary method of playing Trexel: relying on the notifications window!
The primary method of playing Trexel: relying on the notifications window!

Pocket Wizard: Magic Fantasy!
Rating: star-ont

(Submitted to Google Play)

This one's in the form of an image because I wanted to show the developer shrugging off my critique.
This one’s in the form of an image because I wanted to show the developer shrugging off my critique.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Seeking and Giving Reviews on the App and Google Play Stores

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece not some actual guide. 😛

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I’m certain I’m not the only person that’s annoyed at coming across useless reviews on the App Store and Google Play Store; you know, the ones that just read “5 stars! Instabuy!” or “This game is really fun!” or “Boring”. Is it really that difficult to give some constructive criticism or elaborate why you think the game is fun? I’m not sure about most folks but when I’m looking for opinions or any justification for purchasing an app, I want to some proper details. The chance of me getting something due to 10,000 5-star ratings and a bunch of reviews that consist mostly of “Great!” isn’t very high but I must admit that the high rating WILL get me to at least read the app description and take a look at the screenshots.

Yeah, I know there are sites dedicated to reviewing apps but why should I have to deliberately go to one of those when there’s a bloody section under each product information page dedicated to USER REVIEWS? A good review doesn’t have to comprise of  1,000 words. A simple list of pros and cons would do the trick. Honestly, I think  the section should be renamed to “USER COMMENTS” like on YouTube because that’s pretty much what they’re like.

What’s funny is that you’ll most likely get the stupid, pointless single-word reviews and such on apps where the developers ask for a review; especially if they offer some sort of incentive in return. Yes, there are developers that will BRIBE users to give them a 5-star or positive review. In fact, let’s get into the whole dos and don’ts now:

Developer Dos

  • Ask for a review after the user uses the app a few times

    Some devs honestly want feedback which is great because it’s an indication that they actually care what people think about their products. And it’s really great when the request for a review appears after using the app multiple times or an extended period of time. Why? Well, you’d most likely be familiar with it enough to write something meaningful that will help developers understand the needs and wants of their users to improve their works.  As well, you’d end up assisting fellow iOS and/or Android users to make the decision of whether or not they should install the application. After all, that’s the purpose of reviews, yes?

Developer Don’ts

  • Ask for a review right after you run the app for the first time

    You’re probably laughing at this but this actually happened. It’s hard to tell with this screenshot of Armageddon on Stick Guy but I kid you not that, before you can even hit Start, this bloody window pops up:

    Before you can even start playing the game ...
    PLEASE REVIEW IT … even before you play it!

    Yeah, I can see the “Review Later” button but how could they honestly hope that the “application satisfied” me when I didn’t even have the chance to play the game? No one can magically form an opinion before experiencing the product. Obviously, these guys didn’t grasp the concept of properly timing the request.

  • Ask for a 5-star rating

    Companies do this to inflate their ranking on the app stores, thus allowing them to be “featured apps” and also have more visibility on the apps charts. Besides, highly ranked apps are most likely to be downloaded/purchased. Com2uS USED to do this but have since gotten smart and changed their spiel to something like “Your positive reviews will keep us motivated!”. I think a lot of freemium-loving devs still pointedly ask for the 5 stars though.

    Yes, there WILL be people that actually like an app and will gladly rate it full stars. I realize that. But there’s also a fact that many users are just doing it because it’s specifically petitioning you to do so.

  • Ask for a positive/5-star rating in exchange for perks

    This is another example of rank inflation but this method is even more effective because the user gets something in return like virtual money to use in their games. You’ll find that many game developers that create games with in-app purchases practice this. And sadly, it works. The result, however, is the User Reviews section being flooded with inane and shallow insights like “Very good game! I like it!”. Some may mean it, most of them probably don’t and are only writing one for the goodies they get in exchange. Here’s an example of an honest review from this bribe tactic (which wasn’t written by me):

    I just wanted the coins
    “I just wanted the cash”

User Dos

  • Write critiques

    User reviews aren’t meant for praising the hell out of developers. If there’s something genuinely disrupting your enjoyment of the app, mention it. Chances are, there are other users like you and would like to know about the issue.

  • Edit reviews

    Opinions and experiences can change the more you use an app so one should consider modifying an existing review. For example, I’ve seen instances where people leave a review about bugs only to revise them later on after an update fixes the problems. It’s great that fellow users do this because sometimes, the change logs don’t have any information or just provide a generic “bug fix” statement.

    However, I wish more revisions would happen with those apps where the review request happens way too early like  in some roleplaying games. I mean, 5 minutes into it and you’re asking me to review it? Unless the total gameplay actually lasts 5 minutes and I’ve experienced all that it could offer, I refuse to write anything about it. Can you imagine professional reviewers basing their reviews on a few minutes of using an app? It just doesn’t make any sense.

User Don’ts

  • Submit absolutely unhelpful reviews

    “This sucks.”

    “dddddddddd”

    “This company always makes the best apps! 5 stars!”

    “I’m giving 5 stars even and I didn’t even start it!”

    “Yay!”

    “This game is good.”

    I think these account for a good majority of reviews in existence on every single app store. Notice how uninformative those quotes are? Yeah, I made them up on the spot but if I wanted to, I can probably dig up a few of these EXACT reviews from both the App Store and Google Play Store. About the “dddddddddd”, something like this usually comes about from those bribe type review requests. It’s a simple case of “Well, I can’t think of what to write/can’t be bothered to write something but I NEED to write something because I want those coins/points/diamonds/cash/gems since I can’t just rate it 5 stars”. (Actually, in a lot cases, you don’t even NEED to rate OR write anything. Just switch back to the game and the payment will be there. Also, you writing something into the review/comments field is not mandatory at either Store.)

  • “Add me”/Just leaving your referral code

    This relates to those semi-social/social games like Rage of Bahamut where the player providing the referral code and the player entering it will both benefit in-game in some way. I suppose it could be seen as helping out a new user but come on, there are A LOT of message forums dedicated to mobile games and there’s a good possibility that the developers have a forum for the game too. Do the code listing on those instead.

I suppose I should add some sort of conclusion. Basically, I wrote this up just to vent some of the frustrations I have regarding developers exploiting the review system and users just being dumb. When it comes to rating an app, reviews are OPTIONAL on BOTH the App Store and Google Play Store so if you don’t have anything marginally useful to say, just select the number of stars you want to give an app and, for the love of God, don’t write anything. If you have to, be honest and provide some information that other users can walk away with. For instance, if you really like something, explain why.