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“A textbook case of developer greed”: the curse of one-way AppStore communication

January 30, 2012

AppStore reviews are often the only way to get any feedback from app users. They rarely use e-mail for communication with the makers of an app, so as a developer you can just listen to what people think of your app. And sometimes it really requires a good portion of stoicism to stand what you read, being unable to provide any reply to that person, or to the public in general that will also read it.

These days I was really heart-stricken by one comment for Dash Race in the US AppStore. It was titled “A textbook case of developer greed” and made this statement:

Pay 99 cents for a pretty okay game, sure! But then pay 99 more cents for the right to import specific developer-supplied graphics into the game? And the sum of all those “track packs” costing far more than the base price of the game itself? I feel like I just paid for the right to pay more, hyuck!

And this was worth 2 stars. So for those that don’t know it, in Dash Race people can buy additional tracks through in-app purchases. Each individual pack of two tracks is $0.99, and the biggest collection, containing all 9 additionally available tracks, costs $2.99. Not that you would really need them to have a lot of fun with the 10 tracks included in Dash Race, but if you really get into it, you might want all of them for additional challenges. Anyway, all together it would sum up to around an incredible $5. So as for the internationally valid comparison mark of a menu at a burger chain with a big “M”, this would hardly buy you a burger, soft drink and fries anywhere in the world. I suppose that the author works for no salary at all and feeds his family by growing potatoes and salad in his garden. Anything else would be pure greed, right? How I would love to discuss that with him…

There is more where you would really like to talk to the people. “Can’t download app…” was one of those, worth 1 star. For sure not my fault, and I would have been glad to discuss the potential glitch of the AppStore that broke the download after taking the money, and what to do now about it to get what he paid for. The same for “Can’t download tracks — unhappy…” → 2 stars. “Great game, would even be better with a multiplayer option” — aaaargh, it HAS multiplayer, of course. How can I tell her?

And less bad, but also with a questionable motivation, are those 4 star ratings that on the one hand side tell you how great your app is (which is highly appreciated, of course 😉 ), but then they keep one star that you will only get once you implement one or the other great idea that this user just had. “The fifth star is awarded once you introduce feature x“, “I’ll give you five as soon as you build ‘y’ for me“. I think it is still ok if a developer left out something obvious (“I’ll give 5 stars once your game gets Gamecenter integration“), but seemingly people think that $0.99 buys them a ticket for an additional wishlist of their personal ideas. I am glad for any input for additional features and consider it of course for future updates if it makes sense, but I won’t do it just for an additional star by someone. For some reason, this actually rather demotivates me to consider it…not sure how other developers think about that and whether that had ever worked in any case. It would be much more motivating to discuss such stuff with users, rather than feeling blackmailed after having already delivered something that is already well worth the ridiculously low price. There is always an e-mail contact either usually available in the app itself, or in the AppStore!

If I would have one big wish that Apple could fulfill to make my life easier, then it would be a way of answering to an AppStore review. It could well be completely anonymous (Apple just takes my comment and routes it to the reviewer, who can then answer or simply ignore it), but please, PLEASE let me reply to some of them, and of course for all stores worldwide. At least it would relief some of the pain of just being able to listen…


From → Misc

  1. Yea, one of the problems is that Apple initially trained users to think apps should be priced like ring tones 😦 I can not believe how much functionality most apps deliver for a few pennies and still people complain. It even more outrageous when you realize they probably payed somewhere between $200 (with a 2 contract) to $1000 for the device! Yet they expect app developers for basically work for free


  2. Brent permalink

    You are right to apply a stoic approach to those comments. Detach and make great apps – that’s your job. I will buy your app tonight, give it 5 stars and add that comment in the review so you know it’s me. How about that for some karma balance?

    I also send you a virtual beer !! Cheers !!!

  3. Brent permalink

    Good karma completed. Look for the review. Cheers !!!

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