For the past few years, Youtube received a lot of flack regarding its advertising algorithm. The goal of the system is to flags inappropriate or stolen content. Yet many YouTubers have had their videos and channels original, mostly wholesome, content receive strikes and become demonetized through the system, losing ad revenue as a result. Now it seems that Google – Youtube’s parent company – is having the same issue regarding game reviews.
According to Game Dev Tycoon developer Greenheart Games’ most recent blog post, their game has lost 2,000 positive reviews under mysterious circumstances. Greenheart Games developer Patrick Klug went into detail regarding what has happened, what they’ve done to try and resolve the situation, and why they believe it happened.
“In this report, I had expected to write about the sales numbers and piracy rates [for Game Dev Tycoon],” Klug said.”We had an unbelievable rating of 5.0 from over 2,000 players. We were so excited, until an hour later, we mysteriously lost 448 of our 5-star reviews.”
In moments, over 25% of Game Dev Tycoon’s reviews were gone. By the end of it, Google quietly removed at least 77% of their reviews.
After confirming the issue with its fan base, Klug and Greenheart Games reached out to Google to see what was going on.
They were informed that their ratings were removed on purpose as a result of Google’s Comments and Ratings policy. When they tried to press for further clarification, Google politely declined, referring them to the aforementioned policy.
After some research, Klump concluded that the company’s algorithm flagged the reviews as spam. In short, the system surmised the reviews were faked in order to gain a higher rating, as a means of standing out as a good game.
Again, the team took to asking its community to submit their reviews, as to see if they were indeed genuine submissions. Klump provided an example of a removed 5-star review below.
“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.”
Klump went on to say that he wasn’t necessarily upset with the fact that the overall rating for Game Dev Tycoon went from 4.96 instead of 4.92. Instead, they felt their player and their opinions were disrespected, having their human expression wiped from history by a machine algorithm.
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Andrew has been in love with video game ever since his brother was forced by their parents to let him watch him and his friends play games like Goldeneye and Super Mario 64.