Issues And Concerns: Money-Hungry Review Sites And Developers


What I want to discuss today mainly deals with greed. Yes, greed. By which I mean the constant craving for more, especially money. In my last “rant”, I talked about what some developers were doing and ignoring basic customer courtesy. This time, I want to directly address the issue of many developers greed for money, which isn’t always their fault, but as the one of their directed audience, I want to make sure this gets passed down to some developers which have no concern for such issue. In addition, I also want to talk about what some app reviewers are doing: Ignoring basic press integrity.

Firstly, app review sites that charge money for reviews, especially services like “expedited reviews”. To put it simply, this is wrong. The press should not charge developers for a service of writing a review or a news article. The reason is because the press provides a source of entertainment and information, so why should we have to charge the developers for a review? What I’m seeing is that they are treating a review like an advertisement. I’ve thought about this subject for several nights in a row, and it simply isn’t right. 

Gaming companies work hard to develop a quality game (which I will address in a minute), but what they are confronted with are sites like: TheiPhoneAppReview and HotMacApps that charge about 60 dollars to a measly review. Meaning, it’s basically making an advertisement, but it shouldn’t be. Advertisements are advertisements, they are promotional images or articles written to promote a product. A review is a piece of writing designed to inform the general public about a certain product. Not a promotion, it’s an opinion.

Money being paid to these sites to write a review is not only biased, but improper. Look at it this way: How can a writer treat an app the same way, if they are given 60 dollars to write about it? It’s obviously going to be a bit better, or at least sound more positive in its manner. I found out that TheiPhoneAppReview would allow the developer to take back the review if it was rated lower than two stars. What an atrocity. If an app deserves a two star rating at the time, then it should be published. To put it simply, developers are allowed to take back an “advertisement” if the writer doesn’t appreciate the app. Now, the app must be pretty bloody bad if they are rating it that low.

Now, I’d like to mention a few sites with some actual integrity, including 148Apps, TouchArcade, AppAdvice, and AppAddict. We try our best to maintain the quality of mass media and press, and keeping ads and sponsors to simple images and leaving the reviews to our honest opinion. Advertisements on this site are solely supported by Google or any mobile developer looking to help support IGM Mobile and to get some publicity. Our advertisements and sponsors are clearly labeled to notify any readers that the ads are not a part IGM Mobile’s article.

Shifting the focus: What’s up with developer greed nowadays? As stated before, developers are constantly “betraying” loyal buyers regarding their money and support. When an app comes out, it should be at a launch price, for those who have been building the hype and waiting for an app to come out. Not to come out at $4.99, drop it to $2.99 the next day. While I fully support games such as Crow, by Sunside Inc., I feel slightly like my money was stolen because of the massive price drops for no reason. Well, there actually is a reason: Money. Developers drop the price to increase the rank on the App Store, meaning more views and more downloads. More downloads equals more money. That’s really all they care about these days, isn’t it? GameLoft and EA are releasing games at $6.99 and dropping them to $0.99 for a simple promotion.

Here’s a quote from Soliderone on N4G: “Go find ANY interview with ANY mobile developer, mostly look for current console/PC developers that made mobile games. Its literally ALL about the money and nothing else. It’s not about the effort, technology, or anything. It all boils down to “we made bank off it and love it! That reason alone is why something like this won’t ever happen. You’re getting ripped off? How sad, next buyer please! They see the app selling, thats all that matters to them. The market is so full of idiots that gobble up anything, that it doesn’t matter if they “lose” a buyer.”

While I don’t mind promotional sales of apps going free from FreeAppADayApp-o-DayFreeAppReport, etc., but some apps just go free for no reason. Kind of like what Death Rally has been doing. I purchased the game upon release, after waiting for a good while, for $4.99. Soon later, the price dropped to $0.99, a loss of four dollars. Then it went free. While it’s not a big deal to lose five dollars, but after hundreds of apps repeating the same issue, I’ve lost more than $50+ and counting. That’s probably more than an average user spends on apps.

How does an app going free relate to greed? Well, for a fact, getting more downloads will improve the popularity of an app. Ultimately, in the end, it will help raise the app’s rank when it goes paid. We’ve already covered what happens next. We all know that developers bring sales right before Christmas. Do most users know why? No. The reason why developers do MASSIVE sales right before the winter holidays is because they need to get to the top of the App Store’s Top 25 as fast as possible. Apple freezes their App Store over New Years, so what gets to the top stays at the top.

Most developers, you might be one if you’re reading this, don’t care if they lose a couple customers. The reality is that the average customer is probably a bit of an idiot. There will always be more dumb customers to buy their game. Yes, that may be you now, but after reading this, I hope you’ll become a smarter shopper. I’ll share my secret on how to save a bunch of money, but the risk of an app going free is something I cannot control. Firstly, go to AppShopper and sign up for an account. Then, you can link it to the app (available universally for iPhone and iPad for free). Now, to set it up to find the best apps possible, go to the popular section and set the filters to: Price: Paid/Free (which ever type you are looking for), Type: Price Drops, Device: Universal (or whatever devices you own), Category: All Categories. Also, utilizing the Wish List is extremely useful when you’re waiting for an app to go down to $0.99 or free. Also available is the price history, so you can track if an app went free in the past. If it has, there’s a good chance of the app going free in the near future, so I’d wait.

After long and hard consideration, it seems as if it’s not possible to stop these developers to stop fluctuating the prices, but what we can do is become smarter shoppers so the developers will be less likely to change the price. Hopefully, you’ll follow my simple advice and save a couple dollars.

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  1. Ziggy

    I fully agree with you on paid reviews. I haven’t paid for any reviews of my games, and I know some developers who have also walked away instead of paying for a review. Every review site has a “The payments don’t affect our rating” disclaimer, but like you said, yeah right. As a developer, it’s somewhat amusing to email a website trying to sell them on your app/game idea, and get a reply which is basically the website trying to sell you their review services.

    I don’t really have an opinion on fluctuating prices. I think many developers are experimenting, trying to find a formula that makes them money. Free with ads, trial vs. paid, free-to-play, in-app-purchases, offer/unlocker walls… there are all kinds of schemes out there, a lot of them are relatively new so no one really knows what users will like or won’t like… it’s kind of a mess. There are many games which are free, but are basically unplayable unless you buy some upgrades. It’s rare to find a game that strikes a good balance between amount/quality of content, and blatant in-your-face monetization attempts.

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