Changes to Review Scores on Google Play

No. Stop. And go review your COG contract and what it says about soliciting clicks, reviews, etc.


The storefront platforms are going to make changes to their algorithms – and the absolute worse thing anyone can do in response to any particular change is to game the system.

Algorithm changes are a part of game publishers and designers reality – freaking out over them is counter-productive and “taking action” in response to these changes might have unforeseen consequences both to your publisher (CoG/HG) and to you as a designer.

Please do not do anything rash or that might jeopardize your hard work and accomplishments.


I’m going to reopen this topic because it is worth taking a look at this algorithm/review ranking change and I’m glad @GreekWinter brought it up for discussion. However, as @Eiwynn notes above, how anyone might take responsive action to it, or discussing same, is not something we can have, and will result in shutting the thread again.


As I see it Google has done this change to address apps with long life cycles that constantly receive new content. So after a lot of updates the score reflects the latest state of affairs instead of the app riding the review goodwill from X years ago. And there are a lot of popular apps on gplay that follow the live service model. So to me it is understandable why they should choose to do so.

Now, is the new system pertinent to CoG and HG games - I don’t think it is. These are finished text stories after all. At least in theory it should not affect the scoring in a major way. And in practice… shrug


Actually I think it can be pertinent to CoG/HG. Even as interactive finished stories there are still bugs to fix, code to tidy and new content to add based upon reviews and feedback.

UnNatural now is a whole different beast to what it was back when first released. Bug fixes, additional editing, rewritten content and new content and making the coding work better.


I agree to those who say it should be like its in Steam. Overall score and then Recent score.


i think the reviews also update as the games, so in a way is not really weird to see some recent bad rates or drops in stars / note

The problem is that it does, and in almost all cases I’ve observed so far it’s been significantly negative. Every older game that has enough reviews to be affected by this (there seems to be an secret threshold before this new algorithm hits) has gone down in score, often significantly.

Why is this affecting us badly?

  • Most big CoG fans buy the game right when it comes out and leave good reviews at the beginning. Which is great for early visibility and promotion
  • But once those superfans are done, that just leaves casual fans and new players.
  • New players are significantly more likely to rate things lower

And most significant of all:

  • Games often get a lot higher ratio of “I have to pay for this?!?! One Star!!” later in their lifecycle.

This is what tanked Choice of Magics from a 4.5 all the way down to a 3.9 right now (look at their July reviews). That’s… insane. It’s not a reflection of an app being abandoned and not being as good as it used to be, (which is what this new system is supposed to indicate) it’s the fact that we get less reviews on older games, and those reviews are more likely to be troll reviews and cheapscate reviews.


In Spanish, your new ones are “Why is this in English? Or I played until is free I won’t pay for more” But I think it is common to experience for all.

It is unfair that unreadable and unrealistic expectations have the same weight that logical ones of people have paid for the game.

But that’s how the market grows the good thing is that is affecting the competence too so is even the odds…

yeah I saw those review . I wonder if changing ‘‘You can play the first chapter for free!’’ to ‘‘play the damn demo’’ would do any good .

It seem the issue come from peoples assuming a chapter is very long .

And when they go trough that free chapter…they aint happy .

Of course, one could say ‘‘no matter what we do, they wont be happy’’ . But usually DEMO spell it better .

Not critizing or anything, but a mere thinking outloud .


I think the cost could be better spelled out on the actual Play store page, honestly. We’d lose some downloads, but they would be downloads we don’t want anyway since they won’t pay. It really needs to be made more clear.

As a customer, I’ll admit that even I think it’s a bit deceptive as-is now. It looks like it’s completely free until you have it downloaded and I’m sure that’s the cause of many of the 1-stars. There will always be people who will troll 1-star, but I can understand the anger of someone downloading a game they think is free only to be immediately asked for money when they launch it.

I’m not saying that it’s okay for these people to just 1-star, but I can understand why some of them do it.

And it’s a lot more relevant than it ever was now that the algorithm has changed, so their anger carries MUCH more weight now. I think marketing should revisit this, personally.


hence why I said put the ‘Demo’ . The word demo has been there for ages and anyone who played any game know what it mean . It mean you only play a little bit of said game and until you buy it, you won’t go further . Plz gather your party and wallet to proceed …:sweat_smile:


That would certainly be an improvement, but to me as a long-time gamer, ‘demo’ implies that there is a second full version of the app (like on Steam) which is confusing. I think spelling it out in the store before downloading anything would be a much better idea: “The first X chapters are free! If you enjoy what you’ve read, you can choose to pay Y to unlock the remaining chapters!” Or something to that effect.It’s positive, non-pushy language, it’s clear, and leaves little room for misinterpretation.


Hum…I don’t like that whole ‘Unlock’ since it open the route to the ‘‘Why wont you put a subscription thing like a f2p MMO and let me see the rest’’ .

Where a Demo is your old traditional test the game , if you like it…buy it . Point Blank .

I grow up with demo (Until stupid Origin screw that), so to me thats better .

1 Like

On reflection, the ‘unlock’ word is a little negative, but it could be nixed entirely, leaving:
“The first X chapters are free! If you enjoy what you’ve read, you can choose to pay Y to read the remaining chapters!”

Perhaps make it clear that it’s only a 1-time fee as well, to allay fears of multiple transactions.

I still think ‘Demo’ doesn’t work well here. It distinctly implies multiple versions of the app to me, not a IAP (in-app purchase.) I think clear, concise, positive language is the best idea.

Of course this is all spitballing. None of us are CoG employees, but I think making the Play Store page more clear is absolutely essential now that these late-cycle 1-stars are being given so much weight in the new algorithm.

1 Like

Actually demo give the game the…ligitimate persona of being a game . The biggest issue from bad review, is that peoples don’t see these games as Games . They see text based, and think ‘Bah…it text based,…thats not even a visual novel . Just text! No way I’m paying that 5$ for it’’ .

Homewhever all those morons, don’t seem to grasp how hard it is to actually write a story . And how hard it is to Code it .

Hence why I said the word demo, will set the tone that these games ’ Are Games, should be treated as Games and nothing else but Games’’ . You wanna look down on them? fine . But that demo is there to give you a taste , like countless others demo do .

Last I think…there is another issue . But that could just be me , since I really don’t use the play store and neither I go play games on my phone (save for that Bingo game, don’t judge) .

But I,ve seen alot of that on the playstore . Alot of ‘‘make it free! but more ads if you have to…but make it free’’ .

My experience with the play store is with that one game on my phone which I barely play .

But I,ve seen that one line on alot of games when I was looking for a game .

Maybe its because its on a phone ? so peoples think…‘hey I’m playing on my phone, tiny screen…akward typing…why should I pay full price like its the real thing huh ?’’ .

Again…could be just me . But thats my impression…:woman_shrugging:

Well, it’s more that games have been systematically devalued on a ‘race to the bottom’ on mobile devices, to the point where people absolutely expect to be able to play a whole game for free and are completely confounded when they have to pay for something. (you can thank ‘freemium’ games for this attitude.)

Customers also have developed a misunderstanding about advertisements. They think that in-game ads actually pay decent money when they barely pay anything at all. So people have been conditioned to believe that they deserve free entertainment and that we should be happy to get only money from ads so they don’t have to pay. Modern gaming and especially mobile gaming has become an entitlement issue in this regard.

Anyway, the thing about mobile gaming is that it really doesn’t use the word ‘demo’ much at all. If anything, there might be a ‘Premium’ version and a ‘Free’ version, where the free version has certain features locked out. That’s kinda the mobile incarnation of demos, but even that is generally frowned upon, and in some storefronts not even allowed anymore.

You can’t look at mobile game marketing the same as PC gaming or console gaming markets. It’s a very different landscape with an extremely different set of expectations and a modern lexicon that doesn’t always translate properly. It also attracts a very different set of customers which is important to consider.


then why spam games with those goddamn ads (and yes, I’m one of those…that go bonker when I see commercial on Teevee and on my goddamn phone) ? .

As an old timer gamer (since the atari) a game is a game . No platform will change that . And I sure like hell, wouldn’t let a platform dictate what a game is . You do put the same effort in a game on mobile, as a game on pc ? maybe not the scope, but every game got that different anyway . A game is a game, and should be treated the same way .

That tell me something like ’ pay attention to those customer cose they are special’’ and I’m like ‘Yeah I’m glad I’m not there lol’ . Sorry, but while I don’t care for games on phone (cose I hate phones mostly)…I still think a game is a game . Its still need coder, it still need bug fixer, it still need the money to become more of what it is .