XBLIG ratings war

Posted: 2011/04/11 in Indie Games

There’s a secret war going on out there, a war for your hard-earned Microsoft Points. It’s a war over Xbox Live Indie Game ratings, and it just took a turn for the strange.

I’ve stayed away from this issue until now, because up until now it’s been very he-said/she-said. That has just changed. Let’s back up a bit and review how we got here, though.

Being in the top-rated list on the Dashboard is very important to developers, because once your game is no longer listed amongst new games, and if it’s not among the top-Downloaded list, and if it’s not listed as a contest winner or one of “Kotaku’s Favorites”, then the top-rated list is your last remaining chance to keep your game visible on the Xbox Dashboard. Best of all, if your game earns its way up the top-rated list, it’ll probably stay there for a good long time. It’s much easier to get visibility (and therefore sales) for your game if it’s visible on the Dashboard than if it’s not. The very reason why this blog’s focus is on the games that are not well represented on the Dashboard is to provide visibility to quality titles that have less profile on the Dashboard than they deserve, because this is such a big issue.

Recently some of the popular Lacrosse games started rising up the ranks on the Dashboard. Fair enough, many people consider them good games, right? Well, there’s been a kerfuffle due to the fact that the developers behind the games had solicited Lacrosse fans to rate their game 5 stars, reportedly going so far as to use social media to encourage people to register free Xbox Silver accounts just to rate the game. Asking for people to rate your game 5 stars, though, is still potentially justifiable, right? The developer behind FortressCraft did the same thing in a Youtube video, just as controversially.

However, around the time that requests for 5 starring the Lacrosse games came out, not only did the Lacrosse games rise but several other top-tier Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIGs) began seeing their average rating drop, pushing them further down the list as the Lacrosse games rose. Were people 5 starring one game and rating games near it in the list with 1 star to further boost their game of choice? It was clear that no one had asked them to do so, at least not publically, nor was there any reason to think so.

Well, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Zeboyd games (of “Breath of Death VII” and “Cthulhu Saves the World”) and Small Cave Games (of “Ophidian Wars: Opac’s Journey”) in the wee hours of the morning this morning posted about a request someone (it’s not known yet who) made for a service to “create 5000 free Xbox Live accounts”, the timing of their creation approximately corresponding to the beginning of the current “ratings war”. It seems there’s a bit more to this than a few overzealous fans clicking a few ratings on games that they like.

  1. Benhamish says:

    The XBLIG ratings war front is a very small battle in the ratings war currently underway. But the fallout could have larger implications, only time will tell.

  2. Patch says:

    Bah! I don’t pay attention to the ratings on XBL for any of the games. Indie or otherwise. I’m sure lots of people do though.

    One way to easily cull this is by requiring someone to buy the game to rate it. It makes sense to do so, and I’m sure wouldn’t be all that hard to implement.

  3. David Loves Sandy says:

    WOW!!! Simply WOW!!! I never considered this as possible till I read your blog. Thanks so much for the service you are providing those of us interested in getting as much information as we can before we spend our hard earned cash. (Even if it is only a buck LOL)

    I have always considered the ratings a viable way of considering a game (as well as my other methods like searching the web and d/l the trial etc.) but as of reading this I will keep this in mind.

    Patch, I think this is a GREAT idea and funny thing is I have had a self imposed criteria for what games I will rate and I always did realize that some may only play the demo/trial then rate the game.

    Thanks again WODD (Steven Hurdle) for these blogs and all this wonderful information.

    • Part of me wants to celebrate the fact that the perpetrator(s) found XBL indie games important enough to fight over, but the rest of me is frustrated that so many great games got down-voted over this. I’m glad you find Mass Deduction useful, that’s what WMD’s for. Thanks again. :)

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