With the millions of apps that are out there in the market, it can be pretty hard to stand out and get noticed, not to mention get downloaded and then get good reviews. Even if the developers and marketers believe in the quality of their product, it’s still a pretty crowded world out there and so some of them have tried giving out incentives for people to download and give good reviews to the apps or games. Well, Google has updated its Developer Program Policies to stop some developers from “rigging the game”.
Basically, they define an action as incentivized if developers will offer users money, goods, or the equivalent for giving a good rating or review, or even installing the app itself. The ratings and reviews part has always been in violation of their policies, but now they’re also making it clear that any incentivized install with the “intent to manipulate the placement of an app” will be monitored and filtered, and maybe even lead to the removal of the app.
Google recognizes that incentivized installs are part of the strategy of some developers to get people to download and use their apps, and that’s legitimate. What they are cracking down on are those that intend to manipulate the algorithms/discovery mechanisms for increased visibility on the Google Play Store. Apparently, Google can detect the latter and so they have issued fair warning that they’re watching.
This is actually good news for consumers as it means that those you see on the Google Play storefront or at the top of the search results are actually the best apps and not because they have paid a lot of people just to install it. Let’s see if this policy change will have any effect.