Uh oh looks like someone is screwing with the app store. According to this news post from Joystiq. People are employing a bot service to alter game rankings. First off, I’m surprised we don’t hear about this more than we do. iTunes and the app store are a crowded market to break into. As someone who has a podcast on iTunes. I kind of understand why someone would resort to this practice, but that doesn’t make it right.
I like iTunes, I make no secret of it. I buy music and games from it on damn near a daily basis. Yet behind the scenes, dealing with it can be an utter pain in the ass. The mechanics and format of getting something on iTunes is archaic. It has been in bad need of an overhaul for quite some time. On top of that getting your product noticed is pretty much a popularity contest style affair. For those two reasons, I can almost understand why some people would resort to shenanigans to get noticed. While I don’t condone the act of bot farming, I do think it should make Apple take notice of iTunes as a whole.
Sure some people are doing it just to be dicks, there is no doubt about that. Yet our fine podcast has been on iTunes for about two years and you still have to search to find us. That doesn’t make much sense either. So maybe, just maybe its time the powers that be at Apple think about over hauling the way iTunes works. I won’t claim it’s going to stop all bot farming, but it may make people less tempted to resort to it.
The other issue at play here is does this bot farming really make a difference. I think it really all comes down to the quality of the product being manipulated. If you bot farm a crap game, eventually it’s going to come crashing back down to the basement. Because word will spread that even though the game is ranked high, it’s garbage. Then again, if the game is good bot farming can be a problem. That is if your for a completely level playing field, which I can tell you from experience iTunes is not. Even before you factor in people manipulating it with bots. I am still fine with Apple banning people who manipulate rankings. That just removes one of many problems the service has.