Google Play implements review bombing prevention

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Google Play has announced that it will be implementing 24 hour delays for app reviews going forward as a means to help combat review bombing.

Going forward, any reviews will be immediately visible to the app developers, however they won’t immediately be visible to general public. This allows developers to address any problems raised in the reviews before the review goes public.

Google also states that the new policy will help it detect “suspicious” ratings. No details on what this means are revealed, but androidpolice.com presume that this means that the company will be able to detect if a review bombing campaign is commencing, allowing the company to act in a timely manner to prevent it.

Review bombing has long been a problem in the games space. In 2020, the critically acclaimed PlayStation title The Last of Us: Part II experienced such a campaign, falling to a nadir of 3.4 out of 10 on Metacritic shortly after launch, with criticism aimed in particular at the plot and inclusion of LGBT+ characters, with reporters noting that many of the reviews came too early for users to have conceivably completed the game.

As a result, Metacritic began preventing any users from posting reviews of a title until 36 hours after a game’s release, giving more users time to complete the game before leaving reviews. While this doesn’t completely eliminate the problem, it should be noted that the game’s score has risen to 5.7 out of 10 – a significant improvement from the low point.

Google’s policy seems to take things a step further. If androidpolice is correct in its assumption, the company will be able to prevent review bombing campaigns from taking place entirely, taking the heat out of discussions rather than having dissatisfied users bombard a game with unjustified reviews.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage. No detail is given on how the policies will affect legitimate criticism regarding elements that can’t be easily addressed by developers post-release, such as plot or vital gameplay elements.

This is the latest in a series of changes Google has made to its policies in recent months. In August, we reported that the recent changes to the Google Store’s ad policies could make user acquisition and monetisation more difficult for indie developers.

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