Of Promo Codes And iTunes App Store Reviews

I noticed an interesting piece of news today on the TouchArcade forums, it seems that if you were to download an app from the iTunes App Store using a promo code, you are no longer allowed to leave a review on the App Store for the particular app (see screenshot below). For those not in the know, developers disseminate promo codes to reviewers or any other interested party so that they can download the app associated to the promo code, at no cost, both to the developer and to the reviewers.

As an iPhone game reviewer, I must admit that this is an excellent way to distribute apps and Apple provisions for this, with developers allowed to create up to 50 promo codes per version of a particular app. Nine Over Ten 9/10 gets an average of one or two promo codes a day from developers. However, I’ve to admit that I’ve got a problem with developers providing promo codes in exchange for good reviews on the iTunes App Store.

I’ve always maintained a policy (read about it here) not to leave comments about an app on the App Store, preferring instead to put them down in writing on my blog. As part of that same policy, developers are free to send promo codes to me, on condition that I write whatever I want about the particular app on my blog, and I’ve always made it a point to put up a disclaimer saying how I gotten the app in the first place.

As such, I truly applaud Apple for putting a stand on these reviews as ratings on the iTunes App Store can make or break an app. What happens when you have a bunch of bogus 5-star ratings simply because the developer hatched a deal with those who received promo codes? But then again, what about legitimate reviews?

In my opininon, the system can be tweaked, allowing for reviews done by promo code recipients to be flagged. By doing so, would be purchasers can judge for themselves on whether a review is trustworthy or not. Until then, developers will have to make do with other methods of promoting their apps, e.g. by getting the apps reviewed by the multitudes of review sites out there and continuously drive their social media engagements on Twitter and Facebook.

For the TouchArcade forum post, click here.

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  1. Emma May 5, 2011

    Good article, Jason! I agree with all your points about bogus reviews and while I am sad about having less motivation to give out promo codes to fans in the community, I am glad that more emphasis will end up getting placed on external reviews that tend to be more thought-out anyway.

    You know you can always score our games if you want to review them for your site! 🙂

    -Emma, Metaversal Studios