Inspired by the comments of some other Android developers, I added a “rate this app” button to my slot machine game in the last version. The invitation to rate the app appears whenever the player earns an achievement medal and this seems to work well in terms of encouraging good ratings and comments.
I released the new version just under a week ago and so far 60,000 users have upgraded out of a total active install base of 175,000 users. The number of ratings of my game has doubled from about 400 to just over 800 and the average rating has risen from 3.9 to 4.2. That’s a fairly significant rise in my mind.
Unfortunately all these extra positive ratings don’t seem to be helping my app store ranking. Just before the new version was released my game was at 62 in the free cards and casino games category, now it has slipped down to 68. The only reason I can think of for this is that the new version seems to have prompted quite a lot of users to uninstall the app. The total active installs has dropped from 182,000 to 175,000 since releasing the new version which is a steeper decline than previously.This suggests to me that the percentage of active installs has a higher weighting than the number and quality of the app’s ratings when it comes to app store ranking.
Cherry Chaser performed really well, far better than I expected, at one point it was number 12 in the top free cards and casino games on the Android market and has now been downloaded over 500,000 times. I'm really pleased with the success and feel really proud of it.
It has now slipped down to 50th in it's category and what I'm finding a little worrying however is the nature of it's slide back down from prominence in the market. The point at which it stopped being so popular can be seen quite visibly on the graph of downloads on it's market page. I also know what happened at this point.
At that time two reviews appeared on the game's page saying that the game was unstable and/or crashed a lot. It also appears that a lot of Android users marked these reviews as being "helpful" using the market app on their phones. That meant that these two reviews became the first ones seen by people browsing the market looking for a game to download.
There are a couple of reasons that I find this suspicious. The first is that I have never seen the game crash or heard any trusted reports of it crashing. I get crash reports through the market and the crashes that I get represent less than 1% of all user plays (which I can estimate from ad impressions). Both of these negative "helpful" reviews were from Galaxy S2 owners and I have also confirmed that the game runs fine on this device.
The second reason that I am suspicious is that both reviews that complain of the game crashing constantly award the game four stars. That seems very weird to me. However if the market search algorithm favours higher star reviews to highlight then it would make a lot of sense to someone with untoward intentions.
I'm not sure if there is anything I can do about this. Cherry Chaser has still outperformed my hopes and still earns more than I expected so I am not going to get angry about it. If anybody has any ideas or knows anybody who they could share this story with I would be really interested to hear from them.
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