We love the app review system on Facebook. It’s one of those things that makes the social games space so different from traditional video games. Forget cosying up to review sites and journalists to get the all-important reviews to fuel the distribution of your boxed product: on Facebook, you get this from users posting their scores.
What happens when those user reviews are fake, though? There’s a lot of discussion around this issue at the moment – as shown by this post on the allfacebook blog – while Facebook has reiterated that “application developers cannot trade positive reviews or collude with others to post, incentivize, or otherwise ‘game’ the posting of negative or positive reviews”.
There’s also discussion around spam, where a proportion of reviews are actually adverts for external sites. We’ve seen the latter with Who Has The Biggest Brain?, where out of the 100 most recent reviews, around nine are spam, hardly making an impact on its average score (4.5 out of 5 from around 900 user reviews). There are applications out there with high amounts of reviews from mysterious people with only one or two friends on Facebook, but over time those should be easy to detect and root out.
No game review system is perfect – it’s either influenced by relationships, ad-spend or, as in this case, inadequacies in the spam/fraudulent review filters. However, Facebook has been very thoughtful about this area, staying cautious in giving reviews much of a weighting in its system until the feature is more mature. In the meantime, user reviews are giving us great feedback in a quantitative form, complementing the comments we get on the forums.