After some buzz around the manipulation of App Store rankings, largely stemming from a thread in the Touch Arcade forums, Apple has posted a warning to developers not to cross the line when promoting their apps. The line that it draws is ‘manipulating App Store rankings’ and a clear consequence is put into play.
Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services
Once you build a great app, you want everyone to know about it. However, when you promote your app, you should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts. Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership.
Apple’s threat that developers will lose their account and be banned from the App Store isn’t an idle one either, as I’ve personally heard of several large ‘promotional companies’ being banned from activities on the store after they were found to be manipulating rankings. Largely this is done by buying up big quantities of clients’ apps, artificially increasing their rankings and therefore ensuring further success, as apps high on the leader-boards tend to stick around.
The power of a ‘Top 25’ ranking has long been a topic of discussion for developers, as ending up at the top of the list can mean the difference between an app gaining traction and languishing in the shallows with an unsupportable volume of downloads.
The topic of App Store integrity also reared its head recently when dozens of applications clearly copycatting successful apps like Temple Jump, Plants Vs. Zombies and Angry Birds, were removed from the store.
H/t to Steve Streza