Not so long ago, 1800PocketPC reported that the Marketplace ranking system which moves apps and games up and down within a category depending on popularity and rating was broken (probably Chuck Norris had his app declined at certification and decided to round-house kick the Marketplace). Everything now seems to be back to normal and rankings reflective of respective ratings.
The problem was most notable with Lunar Lander, released on 11th May, has a two and a half star rating and was frozen at 68th position, while newly released Hydro Thunder GO, which has a four star rating was stamped at 1277th position. While this may not affect big developers much in terms of reach, indie developers who don't have Live titles in the games category would have found this particularly worrying, especially since they already have problems with Live titles getting more coverage.
Some developers got in touch with 1800PocketPC, who wished to remain anonymous and explained how they monitor their app rankings quite closely, noticed some sticks around the 20th of May and attempted to get support via appropriate channels. Actual quote can be found below:
"I’m sure you know how marketplace ranking works and affects applications visibility and success. The cycle of publishing of a new app has been described exactly on that forum post. You publish an app, which gets an initial boost in downloads appearing on the ‘new’ section, web reviews, a bit of publicity, word of mouth, etc. This initial boost props the app up in the marketplace ranking which makes it appear higher in the list. If the app is good, this has the beneficial and healthy snowballing result of keeping it floating more or less in view in the high places of the marketplace. If the app isn’t good it obviously falls down in ranking and pretty much loses all visibility
This mechanism has been broken for maybe two weeks now ( possibly from 18th of May ) , developers publishing their new apps in this period, or advertising them, are taking quite a hit from the situation.
I’ve been monitoring my game and apps rankings quite regularly for some time now. While some more or less remained fixed, as they were published a long time ago, [ the dev's Game ] kept climbing higher every day, pretty much regularly, 2-6 places a day. Starting around the 20th (can’t really remember now, but I really think it was earlier), I noticed it didn’t move anymore (it’s around position 100). In a couple of days, this being suspicious, I checked all my other apps and saw that they were all at the exact place every single day. This lasted about 5 days before I checked with the app hub support. Not receiving an answer, I posted a thread in the forum. After getting a couple of confirmation replies from other developers (I already got confirmation from a couple I’m in contact with) the thread was deleted without notice or answer from MS.
Fast forward a few more days, things haven’t changed. All the top apps are staying there and the other don’t have a chance to climb up. My downloads report says they’re improving, probably because I’m doing a bit of publicity and for website reviews. But the marketplace ranking is still the same. In the meantime I got a reply from the app hub support which politely said they can’t do much about it and will escalate. There is also a new thread by Elbert Perez who suffered the posting of his Armored Drive game with this problem. I follow up on the thread and a few more devs report the same. Still no answer from Microsoft, I also contact app hub support asking for a contact to the marketplace team but they say they can’t find it.
As usual, with this new platform, one has to be patient if something doesn’t work, even if it directly affects one work or success. But not hearing anything from Microsoft, and actually the fact that it has been going on for so long, is starting to feel quite wrong."
As you can see in what this particular developer stated, Eric Perez (the indie developer who has reportedly earned $30k from WP7 thus far) also started a thread about the problem he witnessed with his Armored Drive title (you'll notice that thread has had no official reply from Microsoft at all). While the Marketplace (and the platform) is still relatively new to the scene, we're going to reach a point soon where we can't use that excuse but hopefully by then all the problems, glitches and bugs will be ironed out.
Did you notice this Marketplace ranking freeze occur?