View Full Version : Is it right to be asked to pay to have an app reviewed?

Mar 4, 2009, 05:20 AM
So as some of you may know I've worked on a few iPhone games (Monkey Jewels, PocketPop Revenge) which are now in the app store. As part of this cycle I've been punting the games around some sites to see if they would review them. Today I find this in my inbox, what do you think? As a customer would you trust the website reviews if you knew this was going on?


Thanks for sending over the information about your new app. Please note that due to the number of inquiries and review requests we receive daily, it may take a while to get to your app.

We have several other additional options for you to make sure your app gets seen by ********* readers.

We can provide an expedited review for a $50 fee. This will get your app reviewed by our staff within 6 business days. However, just because your app is reviewed doesn't guarantee that the app will be published. While paying the expedite fee cannot guarantee you a positive review, we will guarantee that if our reviewers don't approve your app we will refund your fee and not proceed with the article. After all -- our readers are not interested in negative reviews -- they are looking for us to highlight the best and most interesting apps out there. Fore more information on the expedited review process please refer to our FAQ section.

We also have several levels of advertising opportunities. Every advertiser also receives one Expedited Review for free.

Our Premium placement ads (the top 3 slots) range in price from $400-600 per month.

We still have basic ads that can start anytime. We have two sizes: $250 per month for 180x150 pixels and $150 per month for 180x75 pixels. Each ad shows up on every page in a rotating column according to size.

********* reaches thousands of people every day, including many of the key VCs and journalists who follow the iPhone app scene. In addition, ********* typically ranks higher than any other iPhone blog on Google searches. So, if your app is reviewed by us, you not only get the immediate benefit of thousands of highly qualified iPhone enthusiasts, journalists and VCs learning about your app, you also get the permanent SEO benefit of having a positive ********* review show up in the Google search results when people look up your app or company. Finally, you get a permalink to the review that you can use to raise awareness or investment capital for your company. I think you will agree
that all this could easily be worth much more than the application fee.

If you are interested in following through with this idea, please let me know via email - I'll send you Paypal instructions, and we'll get your app put on the expedited list right away.

Thanks again for contacting *********.

Kind Regards,

This might be quite strong, but this almost feels like blackmail to me, if you don't pay then you'll never get a review, but don't worry if you pay and get a bad review, you can opt to have it never published.



Mar 4, 2009, 06:12 AM
Yes you should pay.

You can not write a review or voice a opinion on something that you have not tested out.

Would you take a movie critic serious if he gave the new Terminator movie 1 star but never seen the movie?

Mar 4, 2009, 06:26 AM
Be careful though - 3 months ago I paid a well known site enough money to buy one of my apps for them to review and they still haven't done it. Many of them take your money and run..

Mar 4, 2009, 06:35 AM
Would you take a movie critic serious if he gave the new Terminator movie 1 star but never seen the movie?
Would you take a movie critic seriously if he'd been paid by the movie studio to review their film?

Mar 4, 2009, 07:07 AM
Be careful though - 3 months ago I paid a well known site enough money to buy one of my apps for them to review and they still haven't done it. Many of them take your money and run..

That exact thing happened to me too.
A well known site were very interested in reviewing my app, sadly their interest faded once they had the money in the bank.

They claimed to have spent the money I sent them to buy a copy, but that is impossible to check.

Luckily Apple has introduced the freebie codes since then. I haven't used them myself though.

Mar 4, 2009, 07:51 AM
Would take a movie critic seriously if he'd been paid by the movie studio to review their film?


If you're going this route then you're probably better to consider it as advertising. AppCraver claim they get 10,000-15,000 uniques per day, so grab a calculator and decide whether it's any more efficient than your other advertising. If so, go for it, otherwise look elsewhere.

Mar 4, 2009, 09:26 AM
I'd always assumed when sending an app to be review or even looked at by a place that does reviews it would be a good idea to send them a couple of promotional codes.

Anything beyond that is as has been said more an advertising budget, I wouldn't hand over a penny though until you spoke directly to a developer that is on there site that has paid for this, infact probably a couple of them before handing over anything, and being aware that if it became common knowledge this website did that you've likely wasted alot of your money because people won't trust the reviews (much like happened to some games magazines last year)

Mar 4, 2009, 09:38 AM
Although I didn't mention the site it is interesting someone has guessed correctly. It's AppCraver in case you didn't realize.

My thoughts are that I can't trust reviews from a site that runs a scheme like this and for that reason, amongst several moral ones. I wouldn't pay a site to review a game other than provide a copy of the game which we can do for free using promo codes anyway.

A good site that is producing good quality content and the kind of traffic they claim shouldn't need to be subsidized by developers over and above any advertisements they might buy.

They are the only site that do this from my experience and from feedback i've had on a number of forums, the general consensus is that their reviews couldn't be trusted now.

Surely a review website relies on the quality of the reviews of both bad and good games, and the trust with it's readers.

I won't be bothering to approach them in the future.

Mar 4, 2009, 09:59 AM
The key question is whether the site delivers in terms of actual customers. Has any developer here seen sales increase by a statistically significant amount after advertising on this site? By enough to more than offset the cost of the review and advertising fees? And what percentage of advertisers see this increase? Are there sites with better leverage (in terms of sales boost vs. cost)?

Mar 4, 2009, 10:56 AM
My experience was not with AppCraver - in fact, they reviewed one of my apps without any prompting (or money) from me. My experience was with another of the bigger sites.

Nowadays I'd certainly do it with a promotional code.. my experience was before they were available.

Mar 4, 2009, 11:30 AM
Yeah, this whole thing just smells bad. You shouldn't have to pay a site to get them to review your content and their CPM (if you place an ad with them) is way out of whack for how many pageviews they allegedly get.

As caveman said, when this happens in the movie industry, people lose their jobs or the publications lose instant credibility (granted, people like the late Joel Siegel still managed to have way too prominent a role in "public" critiquing -- not that I like to speak ill of the dead but he was a shill and a half). Hell, when Sony created a fake reviewer for their ad campaigns in 2001, the Connecticut AG filed an FTC inquiry (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2001/jun/28/news2).

This is really tantamount to what happens with webhosting review sites. Those sites typically make money by referral fees and for taking money in exchange for making a host leap to the "top" of the page. The whole practice is widespread, insidious, and basically makes it impossible for anyone to trust any webhost review site. It's a mess.

This (as I said to pocketfun via e-mail) sort of practice has the potential to really taint iPhone App reviews and that would be a real shame to the genuine sites (like the site I write for and many others) that don't require payment for review (we didn't even take gift cards -- no matter how many we were offered, before the App Store promo codes were started -- we either bought the apps out of our own pockets as writers or requested an ad-hoc copy for our device ID) and would outright refuse any sort of offer of a Quid-Quo Pro thing.

Mar 4, 2009, 11:12 PM
So what are the sites that developers here have found are actually worth the time to send press releases and redemption codes their new apps to?