Game Dev Tycoon started losing its reviews inexplicably on the sixth day after its release and it continued for the better part of the next week. In the end Game Dev Tycoon lost a total of 77 percent of its positive reviews. The developers reached out to Google and they got a response.
Greenheart Games were ecstatic seeing how their game managed to reap over 2000 positive reviews in less than a week and the game managed to secure a 4.96 rating that was shown as clean five stars in Google Play store. They were equally shocked when the positive reviews started disappearing.
At first 25 percent of their reviews were swept away within a moment and this prompted some people to investigate how it happened or to find a proper reason behind it. They came up with a similar story from a year ago where Google algorithm deleted a batch of reviews assuming they were fake.
The review losing nightmare continued for Greenheart and by the end of it, they had lost so many reviews that on the 13th day of the game's existence, it had 25 reviews fewer than on its release day. Even with the removed reviews though, Dev Tycoon had a rating of 4.92 which begs the question - if the game is so good that even without the supposed bot reviews it scored so high, would Greenheart really bother with paying off reviewers or incentivize them in other ways or needlessly tarnish their reputation by botting?
Google does not bother policing these cases on a micro level. It would be way too expensive to review every single case considering how big of a system Google owns, but an issue that raised enough red flags to startle Vladimir Putin could be worth special attention.
Well apparently not, since Greenheart Games reached out to Google for an explanation on the matter and they got a generic answer - the reviews weren't in line with their Comments and Ratings policy.
Greenheart further inquired about the specific cases of breached policy found in the game's reviews but Google politely declined. Granted, this is unfair behaviour by Google, but Greenheart also quoted on of the reviews that was removed and it was crystal clear why it happened.
The review read ''Awesome little game that is great to play for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Also one of the best (and best working) ports I’ve seen onto mobile and an all round good time''. This may not look too suspicious at first, but the review is stacked with likely search terms and keywords.
In other words, someone could have been trying to make sure this game popped up on top of Google searches when looking for a well rated game that is a) short or b) long, while also being a port from another system. This may be just one of the reviews that was removed, but there could be more reasons why it happened.
Either way, it didn't turn out to be too much of a blow for Game Dev Tycoon as it is still one of the highest rated games in Google Play store and the amount of heat this story garnered on the internet might eventually pressure Google into giving us some clue why its automated systems mysteriously removed a staggering 77 per cent of the game's reviews.