Xbox Indies ratings 'scam' forces Microsoft probe

Xbox Indies ratings 'scam' forces Microsoft probe

By Rob Crossley

March 30th 2011 at 3:14PM

Accusations of false ratings to push games up and down the charts

Microsoft is to investigate claims that an organised group of people have made deceitful ratings to some Xbox Live Indie Games.

The accusation is that Crosse Studios, developers of the XBLIG game College Lacrosse, had asked fans on its Facebook page to improve the user rating of the title.

This would in theory mean the game would rise up the top of the ratings charts and gain more prominence on the XBLIG digital storefront.

Fans were instructed how to rate the game without the need to play the game, one rival developer has claimed.

The impact was that some users went one step further and allegedly rated rival games will low marks – causing their chart ranking to fall and have College Lacrosse leapfrog ahead.

There have been no accusations that Crosse Studios encouraged scoring rival games with low marks.

"We are investigating a possible misuse of ratings on XBLIG titles. We'll announce more information here as it develops," read a comment on the official XNACommunity Twitter account.

The apparent ratings scam was exposed by one studio that has seen its game fall of the top ten of the XBLIG ratings chart.

Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games, whose indie titles include Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, said the issue “isn't just a matter of prestige, it's also a matter of money”.

Writing on a Gamasutra blog, he said: “I have no idea how this sort of thing could be prevented, but I'm really upset. We were really hoping that the upcoming enhanced version patch for Cthulhu Saves the World would give our game the little push it needed to finally stabilize in the top 5 rated. Now, it looks like we'll be lucky just to get our old rank back.”