Microsoft has made some changes to the ratings system for its Xbox Live Indie Games service, restricting online ratings to those with Gold Xbox Live membership, after complaints of the system being manipulated to boost rankings.
While restricting voting through xbox.com to Gold members only, both Gold and Silver members can still rate games on their Xbox 360 consoles. In a post on the XNA Game Studio team blog, the firm said the change would mean users “will experience more consistent ratings and a significantly reduced potential for abuse across the entire Xbox catalogue.”
Microsoft said it looked into rolling back suspicious votes, but was unable to do so. However it says it is “investigating users who may have violated their user agreement”, and that those found guilty of doing so face “actions up to and including banning from Xbox Live, removal of currently posted games, and loss of ability to post games in the future.”
The firm was forced into action late last month, after complaints that the developer of College Lacrosse: The Video Game had asked its 175,000 fans on its Facebook page to give the game high ratings to boost its ranking on the XBLIG top rated chart.
Said fans did as requested, but further boosted the game’s ranking by giving low ratings to popular games, as spotted by Cthulhu Saves The World developer Robert Boyd. With the rating system available to anyone with a free xbox.com account, a single user could create fresh accounts and further manipulate the rankings. By restricting ratings to Gold members, Microsoft has at least minimised the impact of such manipulation in the future.
However, Microsoft’s failure to cancel suspect votes remains a cause of concern to those who develop for the service, with their games still to recover from the damage College Lacrosse’s fans inflicted. In the blog’s comments Matthew Doucette, of Decimation X developer Xona Games, said: “The damage done is devastating. Our two top-30 games have ratings below 160 now, off the charts. That type of damage can only be repaired by Microsoft.”
Source: XNA Game Studio Team Blog