Google plans to take action against developers that purchase fake ratings and reviews for their own apps and competing apps in an effort to ruin their competition’s reputation, the company announced on Monday.
The search giant says that the crackdown is set to target app developers that utilize in-app rewards for ratings and reviews, a common tactic featured in many free-to-play mobile games that include pay-to-win mechanics.
“Google Play ratings and reviews are extremely important in helping users decide which apps to install. Unfortunately, fake and misleading reviews can undermine users’ trust in those ratings. User trust is a top priority for us at Google Play, and we are continuously working to make sure that the ratings and reviews shown in our store are not being manipulated,” writes Google in a recent blog post.
Further, Google is asking Play store users to report reviews they suspect are breaking the company’s new rules. With thousands of shady websites out there offering botnet-powered Play Store fake reviews and ratings for various fees, this is a good decision on Google’s part.
Google says that it has already removed millions of fake Play Store reviews and ratings throughout the past week, as well as removed thousands of apps that have received shady reviews and ratings. Though the Play Store being so open is part of what separates Google’s marketplace from Apple’s closed-garden iOS App Store, it looks like Google is taking more control over at least some aspects of its app marketplace.
Regardless, this change in policy is a step in the right direction and a welcome change. That said, it will likely be a long time before the shift in app store policy is apparent to the average user.