In 1986 I went into my local Atari ST store and was furious to find a cheap Othello-type game selling for $30 – which was like 100 bucks in ’86. Â Why sooo serious?! Â Well, because in my opinion it was a total rip off. Â First off it showed no creativity – the graphics were just black and white circles for game pieces. Â And second, it should have been free out of a magazine (back then you’d just type in the code). Â It was a total rip off. Â So I set out to write my own version of the game, and mine looked more like a 3D game table. Â The rest of that story another time.
To my point, a similar thing has certainly happened to the makers of the iPhone app Bang!Bang! and Boom!BOOM! Shotgun Free (iTunes links). Â They had what they thought was an original idea. They set out to make it professional, using realistic graphics and hollywood sound effects, and they worked it through the iPhone app approval process. Â Only to find out that Apple was approving several ‘gun’ apps all around the same time. Â No proof of this of course, but I suspect that Apple might have held theirs back to time the releases closer together. I believe theirs did hit the store first, but others soon followed,Â includingÂ what can only be described as an extremely cheap knock off called Shotgun Pro. Â ButÂ plagiarismÂ is the best form of compliment, right? Â And competition is what makes this country great.
But still, the idea that Shotgun Pro had made it to #2 on the Entertainment charts got under their skin a bit. Â And to be honest it also makes me scratch my head as it is a somewhat un-inspired soundboard app. Â So to combat it they too set out on a mission, to ‘pop a cap in the arse’ of the competition. Â Take the jump to read on and see the video…
Here’s what seems to happen in the app store: When someone comes up with a decent idea and makes an app, others follow and make a bunch of copy-apps. Â In the interest of good competition, you would expect the copies to raise the bar, thus forcing the original apps to also add features and get better. Â But instead it seems that the copies are often cheapÂ imitationsÂ with a little less going for them.
There’s also the whole bogusness (that’s a word) of the review process. Â A fairly cheap campaign is to hire a few hundred of your friends to buy your app and praise it, and/or buy the competition and slam it. Â As a side note, it’s the same problem that DIGG has. I could DIGG an article with exclusive photos of a meteor hitting a school bus, but unless I have 100’s of friends to dig it for me it will get buried in about 45 seconds. Â Similar problemÂ existsÂ with the app store. Â Unless you’re willing to play this game and also exploit the system your app will be rated fairly low (from the competition). Â Normal average honest app purchasers rarely rate apps, so until your app has 10’s of 1000’s of buyers the bogus ratings will weigh down your overall score.
Check out the ratings for Shotgun Pro (as of March 27th 2009)…
How is it possible in the real world to have 129 people who just LOVE the app, and 112 people who hate it? Â Those ratings are clearly ‘fixed’ by people buying the app just to rate it. Â Probably on both extremes of the scale, the high side by them and low side by their competition. Â By the way, I don’t blame Apple too much for this nor do I have a suggested solution. Â Any system that can be exploited will be exploited. Â It seems to me that if you really want to know if an app is good or not talk to a friend who has it, or look at an app review site like toucharcade.com. Â I also suspect that iPhone OS 3.0 might help – as it should allow free versions that are upgradable to pay versions.
Dambia’s first move was toÂ releaseÂ Boom!BOOM! Shotgun FREE, which works similar to theÂ Bang!BANG app that I premiered a few weeks ago. Â But this week they’ve gone a step further and released BoomBOOM Shotgun PRO, which contains 5 different guns, better help pages, and a fewÂ surprises.
A company representative had this to say, “We were trying to elevate things above “soundboard” apps by adding motion, decent graphics and incredible sound… you know, because it’s an iPhone.” Â But the competition just slapped the word PRO on their versions which didn’t have any pro features, had static images, and sound effects that clipped. Â In response they said that they “decided to make it right for the consumer and reset the bar. Â Anyone that wants to buy this sort of app shouldn’t be paying for distorted audio, amateur UI’s and clip art.”
For more info you can go toÂ kaisakura.com/firearms/