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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AxPetre, Jun 23, 2018.
Thank you very much for the update and for the hard work.
If I were to be sarcastic, I would say that the new algorithm is maybe oriented to get some apps enter the "Similar Apps" using some paid promotion...
I am seeing a similar sudden drop for two apps (started around 20th of June)
One app is down from an average of 300 downloads per day to about 20 (and still dropping).
And one from an average of about 100 down to 35.
Thanks for the update, I also experiencing the same issue, happens accross all of my apps, one of them got around 4500 installs/day, and suddenly it dropped to around 700 installs/day
It's very sad, my game is also falling from ≈ 4000 daily downloads to 700
This start already to be a very serious problem for a lot of developers, especially for small companies. Lot of us work very hard in last 2, 4 or 6 years and in one day we lost 90% incomes ...
Thank you AxPetre, and you can tell this isn't small issue. Look at all the first time poster in this thread!? That should really tell you something.
It's not a small issue for people which lost 90% of installs BUT for each app which lost installs there is another app which gained installs, and is hard to make the Giant google listen and consider that the bug / algorithm tweak is not exactly what they wanted form the similar list. As i said initially the Similar app list was broken from the start and tweaked in the favor of big games (more like the one's which are chosen as favorites or most profitable), When you have dealt with Google for 15 years before, you know that many times they take decisions (algorithm tweaks) which have many casualties and i don't really know too many cases when they reverted the algorithms ... sometimes they tweaked them and you get something back but almost never 100%. So how good will be the situation if we get back 50% of the lost traffic and from now on it will be 100% harder to grow the business / income. Somehow now, it's already too late, even if they revert back to the old algorithm the situation have changed, the algorithm take in consideration hundreds of factors including the number installs / active people in the last day/week/month, once you got hit you will not go back to the previous situation too fast cause now the hit app is the underdog which is rated against an app with better stats because of the last week/month boost. Also small companies ... if you games are not in the top10%(Probably top1%) then almost for sure, we are a small fish in the shark tank ... on our way to extinction
I wouldn't be that pessimistic. Every new app is born in a sea of sharks. And somehow the new apps manage to stay alive, survive and grow.
... read this from xda-developers: "no evidence that Google is altering the algorithm to intentionally harm indie developers in favor of big-name apps (despite rampant speculation otherwise). The changes are aimed at improving the experience for both users and developers alike." and they conclude with "Developers are encouraged to proactively improve their app’s quality. Google has published recommendations on how to do so on the Android Developers Blog and Quality Guidelines documentation page.".
Yeah ... easy to blame the quality of the game when you are not hit ... like there are not many low quality apps in the top ... https://www.xda-developers.com/developers-huge-drop-new-installs-play-store-algorithm-changes/
The funny part - the guy who wrote the article was on the discord server, collecting our testimonies.
The story is: the ranking of our games will not change even if google fixes the error because we have lost installs and the ranking always measures that.
For all of us losing, who the hell is gaining?
The games that appear as similar / recommended
Confirmed, "the error" is intentional, the things will change now in the google store, we have drop installs supposedly by the low quality of our games.
This is so weird. The only app in our library of 10 games that DIDN'T take a massive nose dive is the one game that has a LESS than 4 star rating. Every other game has over 4 stars and plummeted. This obviously seems like the opposite of what one would expect. I don't suppose anyone has noticed any kind of correlation with app ratings??
My ratings are stuck since days
mysteriously and i see ratings of 5 stars and reviews of 5 stars since last update before drop
Same here, all our games are affected.
Add our game, Epic Skater 2 to this list of games that experienced a sudden, sharp decrease of installs the third week of June 2018.
We launched a month prior to this happening. Our numbers were rising organically, we were getting excited as it seemed to be taking off on it's own, getting into the top 60 Arcade games and moving up the charts quickly.
We focused on delivering updates to fix bugs and improve gameplay via player feedback. We were making great strides.
6/21, 6/22, 6/23, 6/24 the install numbers took a severe down turn. On Monday the 25th we talked about why this might be happening as we were rising so well, but there was no reason to explain the sharp drop. Did everyone just suddenly lose interest?
Seeing this thread has helped us conclude something changed in the Google Play store which caused this to happen. Unfortunately, it's very damaging on our end.
I can tell you that it's not quality dependant. My game that suffered download losses has really good vitals, good reviews, good conversion, good retention and has only been improving with every update.
My app that gained installs has crashes over the 'bad behaviour threshold', and all other metrics perform worse than the app that lost downloads.
If they are saying it's because of quality. They are mistaken and haven't found the real issue yet. Keep prodding them with real evidence (developer console dashboard stats) to counter their conclusions. That's what I'm doing, I still have an open investigation support ticket with them. I'll let you know if I hear more.
I also got the "quality" answer from Google. Considering my app has a 4.8 average based on more than 600 reviews, and 38% retention after 30 days, I doubt quality has anything to do with it.
38% retention after 30 days? Holly ****balls! Start your UA ads campaign, grow that good thing!
Haha thanks ^^
I don't know, my monetization is a bit weak to pay for UA I think (it's a puzzle game and you can watch to see hints / solutions). I was happy until the recent crazy drop! ^^'
Are games with high ARPU beign affected too? I suspect Google new algorithm is prioritizing ARPU
Not true, again, the game I have that has benefited has very poor monetisation. The game that lost all its downloads has 10x better monetisation per user and 20x real revenue per month than the one that got more installs.
Do they use the same monitization strategy? (Ads or IAP). Do you see any major differences in your games that might suggest what google views as “quality”?
They are the same, except that Major Mayhem 1 has bad UI design that doesn't promote IAP as well as Major Mayhem 2. They both have IAP, they both have Ads. Neither use AdMob. There is no reason why google would prefer MM1 over MM2 based purely on metrics, except for that MM1 has more downloads and more reviews and more revenue all time vs MM2 (7 years vs 2 months).
MM1 has had an editors choice in the past. MM2 is yet to be featured.
MM1 is published under adult swim. MM2 was self published (our only self published game).
Hmm.. I was curious if they were favoring apps with higher revenue coming from IAP (as they get a part of that). over ad revenue. I was thinking to google "quality" means "makes google more money directly".
**** This is all speculation!! Still waiting for an official response from Google. ****
While that might be a logical assumption, from my understanding of google they tend to make decisions based on engagement and retention as they seem to be of the ethos that long term users will eventually produce more value regardless of whether they are monetising today or not.
From what I've seen with my apps, and other developers apps on here and developers I know personally, there is no logic to who has been hit by this.
All apps that have been hit have been adversely affected in a very similar way which says to me that the metrics of each app has nothing to do with their current performance decrease. It's as if all apps hit adversely have for some reason or another (likely a bug) been excluded from the algorithm altogether. All remaining traffic we see is from search results, ad campaigns and other sources.
Conversely, all the apps getting a bump are likely getting it simply because they are getting exposure they otherwise wouldn't be now there are less apps in the pool to be shown by the algorithm.
**** This is all speculation!! Still waiting for an official response from Google. ****
I don't think so, at least one of our games is higher on the US top grossing list than for example Snipers VS Thieves that are one of the games still in the similar list. The only reason I can see that differs is that our game was just below the top free 500. As our rating is better and so on.
And if you look at the similar list on Snipers VS Thieves, you see for example boat games and such that have extremly bad revenue.
Plus we just got an email response from Google that said:
Thank you so much for your patience. Our team is still investigating the most efficient and secure way to resolve the issue you reported. I know you're eager to get working and I apologize for the delay.
I've noted your case as impacted by this issue, and I’ll reach out to you the moment we have a solution.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime - I'd be happy to help.
The game you published under adult swim is the one which got the benefit on downloads?
Yes. But I doubt that's the reason why. Choosing who wins based on being an established publisher is silly and would stunt organic growth of a platform. Look at xBox and playstation post ps2....
It may be throwing in some historical data based on past publisher performance. But it does seem something is off. Especially with the similar apps. Some of our games have pretty varied metrics yet don’t seem to have been impacted differently. SvT for example has terrible retention but high organics. Another has great retention but low installs. There isn’t much of a pattern.
Another wild speculation is that they are integrating some type of machine learning into the process and it make take time for the dust to settle.
I don't believe this is true either. If that were the case we would still see some variation in games that are adversely affected. Major Mayhem 2 downloads dropped and hit the floor and it's now a straight line. Major Mayhem 1 which rose a lot, then came back down over the following 2 days and has now stabilised, this indicates to me that Major Mayhem 2 was removed from the algorithm and Major Mayhem 1 rose because of less competition initially and then the algorithm adjusted it back down based on its performance as is expected to happen.
If you want to think it's a issue, perfect.
But after 8 days ... this is totally intentional
I can't even imagine how hard it would be to first, recognise this is an issue and not just expected behaviour, then figure out why this issue happened, then find a fix that won't just screw a bunch of other developers over as well. It must be a hard task, 8 days is not that long to do all that and then test a solution sufficiently to make sure no more damage is done.
If it was any company would understand, but is google.
How is google any different to anyone else? They have programmers. Programmers often program bugs. It doesn't matter how good your processes are or how good your reputation is. Sometimes bugs get through QA.
The programmers have errors, of course. But this "issue" only affected to small developers.
Edit: But this "issue" only affected to "low quality games".
You don't know that this is true. My guess is big developers, especially publicly traded publishers such as EA or King would not want to let the world know that something like this could drastically impact their revenue without anything they can do to resolve it. It's not good business. It would also stand to reason that they would be less impacted because larger companies rely on paid advertising which would reduce the proportion of downloads they were receiving from the related apps section.
Anyway, you can see the statistics in sensortower, app annie, etc ...
It's not a bug. Rather, they have a long term goal of improving quality of app inventory.
Apple started this in fall 2016: they were banning whole accounts and removed apps en-masse since. E.g. all those clones of Flappy Bird, 2048 and such. And much else in the process.
Now Google is following suit, yet they don't outright remove apps but instead push them into obscurity (and we should be thankful for that at least).
We as devs may actually have a wrong picture of a typical user, and Google may have more insights due to their vast data. It may actually be that users just want the top apps and nothing else (and this desire the store now reflects). Mobile players are typically kids 6-12. This is a very conservative audience. They only play what others in their class play. So, if everyone around plays My Talking Angela, then you play it too. So, Google sees that My Talking Angela is installed on literally every phone of a girl 4-8. It's a no-brainer to conclude that that app is of extremely high quality and thus must be recommended to every girl which still for some reason might not have installed that game on her phone. So, whenever you see an app that is likely to be interesting to girls, you go ahead and tell her: "You still don't have Talking Angela? You should install it". And if you see a random person coming to the store, you come up to them and say: "Hey, here is Subway Surfers for you". Because Google has data that a random person is actually a 10 year old kid, and kids just love "Subway Surfers".
The sad reality is that only players on PC (those nerds in basements) actually need any variety and would search for games. The mobile audience simply wants to play what everyone else plays, and they certainly don't need 1.5m new apps per year.
Google knows that a typical girl wants Barbie and nothing else, not some random wedding game a random schmuck made in his bedroom.
The fact that we're seeing some our apps drop more than others, with some even randomly going up - is a small side-effect of the algo which they'll probably correct further on the way. But the main purpose is that the top apps must be ubiquitous so that no kids by any chance miss them, while anything else is basically unimportant because the majority of users don't care.
We work with many developers (~50) and even though some are losing 90% of their daily installs, there are also many apps that are seeing huge increases in downloads, but I guess that you don't hear their developers in the forums. Usually the increase in organic downloads is between 50 and 200%, some even higher. Unfortunately we still have no explanation why this is happening. The changes look very random, not correlated with any metrics.
can you more statistic like uninstall ration or retention for the game which you increase in downloads so we can figure it out more correctly
The clone cleaning is a possibility, but my principal game arent clone of nothing, only have a popular keywords in the title and the description.
Been following this thread, contacting Google, logging into Discord etc. Here's something I just realized, and I don't think it has been discussed.
Note that I am based in Sweden.
1. Category pages like "Puzzle" are empty on web (with exception of the 3 Designed For Families age groups).
Category sub-pages like "top selling free" are not empty, but only available via Google web search:
When look at cached search results, category pages like "Puzzle" do contain content. Presumably the cached results are US-based?
2. App page is missing similar apps block on web. (can't upload more screenshots). The right hand side of the app metadata is just blank. Whereas in the (US) cached version there is Talking Tom and 4 others.
It seems there is a geographic issue. So not only has similar apps changed what it displays, but in some countries it has gone missing entirely?
I've send this over to Google today.
No this is definitely a bug, my games for old ladies are being shown zombie shooters as similar, the cross over between those 2 has got to be absolutely zero.
Is a bug, isnt a bug...
This a part of google response.