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XBox (Games) Games

Xbox Live Indie Games Rating Manipulation 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the hey-microsoft-want-to-buy-a-metamod-system dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft seems to be turning a blind eye to the Xbox Live Indie game area. Certain indie developers have found a way to abuse the independent game ranking system in order to down-vote popular indie titles while up-voting their own. Due to this, games are falling out of the valuable top 20 slot and the value of the ranking system is jeopardized."
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Xbox Live Indie Games Rating Manipulation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    When money is on the line, people are self-serving. Color me surprised.

    • Is it self-serving to take actions that ultimately leave both you and your competitors worse off? I'd call it simple stupidity.

      • Only in the long term.

        Next month and the month after that, you get to cash a bigger check than the next guy...

    • by Ferzerp (83619)

      Where is the story on the apple version of this?

      It happens on any type of "user rated" environment where the players are so small that no one cares. I had an iphone long ago, and I learned very quickly not to trust the ratings system at all. Too many times I'd read the reviews and half of them would be 1 star ratings that say "App X is superior to this". Something tells me that those people weren't independent users. Especially when half the reviews were made up of the same exact message.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        One major difference is that you have to download (often also buy) the software you want to rate on the app store. On the XBLIG marketplace it's possible to rate games without even owning a 360 or the game so it's possible to set up a ton of accounts and vote with all of them.

  • First they rebranded the XNA website as App Hub [msdn.com] to help push Windows Phone 7, then they had XBLIG displayed after avatar clothing They did at least attempt to help support independent developers [joystiq.com] somewhat recently, so they have shown some sign of caring.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unless you were one of the first games to launch on the platform or you had massive brand recognition, its effectively impossible to climb the "Top Sellers" or "Top Rated" charts which is pretty much the only way to market the game post-release.

    Its not just Xbox Live Indie games either, Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network games all suffer from the same problem. Castle Crashers was one of the first Xbox Live Arcade games and its proven to be nigh impossible to dethrone both on the "Best Selling" and "To

    • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @09:10AM (#35720032)

      Castle Crashers was one of the first Xbox Live Arcade games

      Uhm... say what now?

      Xbox360: released November 22, 2005.

      Castle Crashers: released August 27, 2008.

      Almost THREE YEARS of Xbox Live Arcade games separates the two.

      This has been a message from reality. As an additional message: please stop smoking crack.

      • by tepples (727027)
        As I understand it, for the entire life of the original Xbox and the first few years of Xbox 360, only established companies with a secure office and experience developing commercial games for some other platform qualified for developer tools. XNA Creators Club (now App Hub) didn't come until years later.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Both XBLIG lists are populated with software from all eras of the service. The top rated game is Cthulhu Saves The World which was released last December and #3 is Oozi which came out only days ago. There isn't much in terms of brand recognition on the service but people do get attracted by titles like "fart wars" or whatever. They get downloads but not high ratings.

  • Notice that in the last big dashboard update, they got rid of the ability to rate full games? If you bought a game, stuck it in, played it and hated it, you could rate it out of five stars and it would display an average score on any game you looked at through the dashboard.

    They conveniently removed that and I've never heard it discussed in the months, since.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:49AM (#35717858)

    You can hardly say that Microsoft is turning a blind eye to this only 3½ working days after announcing that they are looking into it. It will take time to process the logs to find the trends and then make some changes so this cannot happen again. The blogger from TFA has had longer to come up with some figures and still only says that he has a "personal hunch" that the figures have been manipulated based on what he thinks the games should be rated.

    If you look at the first blog mentioning this they single out the fans of College Lacrosse 2011 to be the bad guys and yet the graphs shown a week later have the lacrosse game dropping in the ratings. With any rating system, I assume that there must be some attempts to fudge the figures, so it seems quite plausible that the blogger may end up being correct. But my point is that it takes time to find out what is really happening. They have to be more sure than just saying that something looks fishy before they take action.

    • by flowwolf (1824892)
      Don't be silly. Bloggers are professional conclusion jumpers. Research and credibility don't pay credence to their business model.
  • The solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:50AM (#35717866)

    MS should scrap the web front end for submitting game ratings.

    Instead, it should only be possible to submit a game rating from the XBox itself, using an account that's unlocked at least one achievement from the game.

    Since the XBLIG games are only accessible to people with an internet-enabled XBox and a Live account, that shouldn't disenfranchise anyone who's actually got a relevant opinion.

    • by blueZhift (652272)
      Now that's an idea! Game ratings from people who have actually played the game. It would also be great to see the achievement profiles of the raters. That way you can see ratings from people who've played deeper into the game rather than single achievement drive-bys.
    • by url00 (1345327)
      Indie Games don't have achievements.
  • by Spyware23 (1260322) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @04:55AM (#35718176) Homepage

    It's been what, twenty years of top downloaded/most votes lists, and we still can't make a fair system? Shiiit. Android market, the appstore, now this, they all suffer from the same flaws and drawbacks. Why can't some interface/social-schmocial people figure out a way to get this right?!

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      Sadly the flaw is not the system, it is having trust in people to act in good faith. All this proves is that people can't be trusted with an open system. This is more damning on the indie game fans than the system itself, though really it is hardly suprising, when money is involved no community seems to be beyond a little corruption if left unchecked. Until you can figure out a perfect way to make people not behave in a bias fashion this will always occur, if you do figure out such a perfect system I am sur
    • Why can't some interface/social-schmocial people figure out a way to get this right?!

      Because the Internet does not provide a way to positively ID and track its users. And it shouldn't, either.

      • by flowwolf (1824892)
        He's talking about the fact that all market UI designs are horrible. Top Paid and Top Free lists do not cut it and those are the two categories all of these marketplace/appstores are pivoting the entire user experience off of.
    • by crunch_ca (972937)
      Amazon's pretty good.

      They make it easy to browse and discover content. They also have suggestions (if you like this, you might like that). Certainly they have a top N list, but it's certainly not as important to have your book in the top N as it is on an app store.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @05:03AM (#35718208)

    Just to be clear: the developers of CL2011 asked their fans to vote up CL2011; they didn't ask them to vote down other games and have since put up a note on Facebook asking their fans to play nicely. So this appears to be down to overzealous loony fan-boys, rather than anything else.

    (however, it has been suggested that several other developers have gone down the fake-account-vote route to try and boost their initial ranking. There's certainly been a number of recent games rated at 4+, which I'd personally rate at 2 or 3. Though to be fair, I am a bitter and jaded gamer...)

    In any case, Microsoft need to fix this sharpish, as the problem isn't restricted to XBLIG, but also applies to XBLA and the rest of Microsoft's DLC empire - it's just more visible on XBLIG as the average number of votes/game is low. In fact, the odds are good that there's at least one marketing company ready and willing to drop a votebomb, inbetween spamming social networks with tales of how great basic_bejewelled_clone_5 is...

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      I think XBLIG isn't exactly getting the most accurate ratings anyway, people will vote something up just because it has nice production values for an XBLIG game even if it's not even remotely competitive with what else is out there (some XBLIG games are competitive with the rest of the gaming market). Also boobies will boost the ratings.

  • by alexandre (53) *

    Who cares?
    There is only something like 75 games...
    it's not 10000, you can try them all before buying!
    It's not like people who produce for the App Store don't buy their own apps...

    • Sure, there are only 75... if you ignore the 1,670 other games. Most of which are utter garbage, which is all the more reason to have a reliable rating system.
      • by alexandre (53) *

        A truely reliable rating system would be nice, but I'm afraid that in such an extreme proprietary environment it would have to be made on the web, independantly to be trustable...
        Microsoft just doesn't know how to do things right anymore.

        But yeah, the more opinions the better :-)

  • I'd say their larger problem with Indie Games is the lack of quality control.

    I'm happy to play a small game. But there are many games on there that are pretty much "I figured out how to draw a sprite, time to publish!", or worthless variants on other trivial games.

    More content is fine - the problem is that these little turds take up spaces in the new release list (a valuable source of advertising) - and the problem feeds on itself. I think a lot of gamers have given up looking through the new Indie games

    • by tepples (727027)

      I know if I was developing an XBox Live game, I'd try to find out how to get listed as a "real" arcade game

      Please allow me to rephrase what I've heard from CronoCloud and other Slashdot posters whom I have asked about this. In order to get out of the indie games ghetto, first you have to start a corporation or LLC and lease a secure office. Then you have to develop and sell copies of a game for PC, iOS, or Android in an unrelated genre. Do you have the finances to do this?

      • by JMZero (449047)

        Yes I do, thanks for asking!

        But I don't intend to. All I'm saying is Microsoft could make Indie games a lot more successful with a bit of quality control, some loosening of restrictions, and some better discovery tools (to be fair, all the "app stores" need better discovery/categorization tools).

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      The hurdle for XBLA is very high, you practically have to sign up with a big name publisher (even though digital releases shouldn't need one...) and get one of their limited number of release slots to get on there. Developers often start out on WiiWare (even if they never actually release a game on that service) to get the attention of those publishers as that has a much lower barrier to entry.

      XBLIG is really meant for amateurs and I think that's fine, sometimes you can find something interesting on there.

    • by JElder (1849586)
      It's how games started, and some of the most famous games and programmers in the past started - little more than technical demos.

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