According to articles in the XBLIG/XNA Community there have been rumors of a Ratings scandal responsible for a number of games being knocked out of their places on certain high priority lists like "Top Rated.
Upon investigation of the Top Rated section of the Xbox Indies Marketplace, I noticed a few odd things in the placement of the games themselves: Bonded Realities has over 1000 ratings and has a 4.25-Star average, Solar has nearly 3000 ratings. Apparently it's a coincidence that all the Lacrosse games are on the Top Rated list--2010, 2011 and the other title as well.
The strangest change in placement is Cthulhu Saves the World's position--being a fan favorite and highly acclaimed title, it only has 1781 Ratings with a 4 star average. The whole thing seems to be a big mess, and the developers have been busy informing the Xbox Indie/XNA Community about the apparent disruption in the lists.
I want to reiterate that the rating changes don't reflect on my personal opinion as a reviewer--newly higher rated titles aren't of lesser quality, it's just that their normal placement has had a sort of paradigm shift--some games are naturally on the lower end of the spectrum while others are on the upper side.
Any XNA developer who's published a game knows that these lists determine your overall sales and success, and getting placed (and staying) on these all-important listings. In light of this manipulation, the official XNA Community Twitter has launched an investigation that will look into the matter at hand.
A number of titles have been negatively affected by this conniving scandal, some of which are well-known games like Cthulhu Saves the World. This supposed scam also seems to be favoring certain games like College Lacrosse 2010--is there a direct correlation?
Perhaps, but only Microsoft knows for sure.
Whatever the case, these tactics are underhanded and I believe it's not something the XNA Community is happy about one bit. Many developers and even reviewers are spreading the word and are eager to hear the actual findings from the official XNA Community representatives from Microsoft.
Xbox Indie developers work hard on their titles, and to see something like this happen in their own virtual backyard, so to speak, is unnerving--this unbalances the playing field and distorts many aspects of the ratings system itself. Rather than helping the games, the ratings system has been convoluted in such a way that hinder certain titles.
|The original Tweet made by the official XNA Community account.|
Updates to this post will come as news arrives, however for now be sure to read up on GameMarx's Ratings Scandal Article for more information. Also, if that article doesn't satiate your thirst for knowledge in this matter, check out Achievement Locked's article as well as The Armless Octopus' Xbox Indies Sabotage article for supplementary reading.
Stay tuned for updates!