Talk Android has an article today discussing how Noosoft Games paid for reviews and 5-star ratings. The company in question used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to get dozens of five-star ratings. For those who don’t know what Mechanical Turk is, it’s a tool that companies can use to crowdsource large, tedious tasks by dividing them into small tasks. Workers get anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars for each task.
It sounds great. The game currently has better ratings than Angry Birds or Draw Something. So should you do it for your app? Definitely not! First, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has rules specifically forbidding Mechanical Turk tasks to require the installation of software. Noosoft’s Mechanical Turk account has been suspended, and the app no longer appears on Google Play. In fact, I’m not finding any evidence of Noosoft on Google Play at all.
In Google Play’s Terms and conditions, it clearly states that developers “should not attempt to change the placement of any Product in the Store … by offering incentives to users to rate an application with higher or lower ratings.” Like I’ve said before, Google’s policy is generally one strike and you’re out. If they catch you, you could lose your whole Google account.
That means they could remove all of your apps from Google Play, and you would have to open a new account in order to put an app in again.
Google is not forgiving. You break their rules, and you’re out. There is no appeal process.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking someone to take a look at your app and rate it and write a review about it, but asking them to give you a glowing review and a five-star rating is cheating the system. Do it once or twice, and you might get away with it. Do it over and over again, and you will be caught.
There’s another thing to keep in mind. Nobody quite knows Google’s algorithm for which apps get to the top of Google Play, but it is known that one important factor is app usage. Apps with large numbers of users who delete the app or even just stop opening the app will not rank as highly.
There’s not much way to game the system. If you want your app to hit the top of Google Play, you’ll have to create an app that people will really love!