Last month some indie developers suspected foul play in the XBLIG rating system when the developers of College Lacrosse 2011 urged fans to rate the game highly in an attempt to bump it to number one on the charts. While it’s certainly not a crime to ask fans to rate the game highly other developers noted that their games were quickly dropping multiple slots in the ratings system, something that simply up-voting College Lacrosse wouldn’t have affected.
Cthulu Saves the World developer Robert Boyd commented on the situation on Microsoft’s App Hub forums. “In less than a week, we went from being #6 top rated to our current spot of #11. In contrast, the Lacrosse games which were in the middle of top 20 best rated (I don’t remember the exact positions) are now ranked #4 & #5.” The College Lacrosse team later admonished their Facebook fans to play fair, while not accusing anyone of foul play. “Please don’t down vote other games. Just give College Lacrosse 2011 FIVE stars,” they stated in the comments to one of their posts.
Initially Microsoft responded via their XNA Community Twitter account that they were “investigating a possible misuse of ratings on #XBLIG titles. We’ll announce more information here as it develops.” Earlier this week Microsoft took action by disabling the ability for Silver members (otherwise known as Free accounts) to rate indie games. “By implementing this change, we believe our customers will experience more consistent ratings and a significantly reduced potential for abuse across the entire Xbox catalog,” said the XNA Game Studio team. “We have also investigated rolling back suspect votes, however, we determined it will not be possible to do this.”