Ratings on Google Play Store are broken! The problem and how I’d fix it.


The Google Play Store isn’t exactly something special, like most mobile app stores there’s a lot of things i wish was there that isn’t like the ability to categorize the apps you’ve downloaded in my apps instead of the huge list. But there is also a lot of problems too and one of the biggest is the Ratings system. I had always planned to ignore it considering the big budget (as in loads spent on advertisements, not the game) free to play stuff always is on the front but when i went on a blatantly bad app and realised it had an overall good rating i felt it needed to be addressed.

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First of all while I’d love to just say they use review bots or something its sadly not the case, mobile gaming is unfortunately filled with idiots and little kids and they have no idea what the ratings are there for. As you can see in the above screenshot of highest ratings reviews of  “Screen Stream Mirroring Free” (an app i personally tried once) some people rate 5 but don’t even know how to use it and there’s even reviews which gives high ratings despite the app not having all the features someone wanted and in some cases not being what they wanted at all.

In fact the app above even has a special level of stupid review as a popup asking for a 5 star rating appears once you open the app and there’s alot of people too stupid to wait a few seconds for the x to appear so you get crap that’s pretty much “I only rated 5 because it forced me too” or “Fuck you trying to force me to rate it”.

Worst type of reviews in my opinion are the ” I’ll rate 5 stars if you add ___” reviews. In most cases the apps don’t even deserve the initial score it was given and I’ve never seen a developer actually reply to anything like that, not like i wouldn’t love it if a developer added something i suggested but i still think this is a bad way to do it considering it doesn’t actually look like a review (like it should be).

Well there’s also troll reviews like ones that claim something is fake or is filled with viruses which may be true in rare cases but usually isn’t.

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Sad thing is its actually hard to tell if a review is fake or not, some people are just too lazy to write actual reviews. What makes them untrustworthy is that bots these days can easily write a sentence or two making stuff as generic looking like “I love this game” seem worse than they already are. After all the idea of a review is to say why you like the game and why others should or should not download it.

However i actually left the worst until last, can you think of anything? Well these ‘reviewers’ apparently couldn’t (see below). Why Google would even let people do that crap is unbelievable, in fact only one of the 4 in the screenshots (there was quite a few) actually have a profile picture. There’s no way they don’t seem like bot reviews or something if i note this is the store page for Shape Fitapp puzzle, a game that i reviewed recently but didn’t like because of the obvious lazy development and inclusion of micro-transactions on top of that. It was actually this that made me want to write this as a bad app with a 4.2 overall rating is just wrong.

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I do have an idea of how to at least improve the ratings system:

First of all reviews should be forced to use a minimum word count and anything under that would get deleted. This would on virus include already written reviews and while alot of people would probably get annoyed i believe its necessary.

Secondly when writing a review there should be a brief summary of what they should be writing so at least some people will do as it says. As you’ve seen most reviews fail to actually review the app and merely saying you like or don’t like a game isn’t enough.

Thirdly there needs to be a thumbs down button on reviews, its true that trolls will probably downvote some stuff for no reason but there is currently no way of disliking a review. I sometimes report the truly idiotic ‘reviews’ but they obviously don’t get removed because no-one else does.

Fourthly, while claims of fake/illegal apps or viruses is usually a troll move its also true that so called developers have tried some disgusting crap and still do. An example of this would be the Pandora app for windows 8 which i helped get removed from the Windows store which was actually just the webpage put inside a frame covered in adverts (and therefore illegal). I’m not saying Google Play is like steam and lets any old crap in but they should possibly have an automated system that’s able to notice when words like virus, fake or illegal are mentioned either a lot or multiple times within a certain period.

Fifth and not so important would be a comment section. It would hopefully stop people from using reviews to ask questions and would end up being far better if people could talk to each other because reviews can only be answered by developers and while its obvious they’d know everything about their app not all of them are active. I don’t think it would be that hard, perhaps if they used Disqus it would be quick and easy to do.

And thats it, as someone that’s stuck reviewing free android apps at the moment i wish my ideas would actually happen but its unlikely. Tell me your opinions of the Google Play store in the comments and what you would improve.

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