Meta's finally cleaning up Quest Store game and app reviews
Meta has started blocking new Quest Store reviews that include referral links, and more changes are coming.
Meta's Quest Store has recently been plagued with five-star "reviews" that might not be genuine. Even if they are actual game reviews, a significant portion of the content is often devoted to mentioning referral links that provide 25% off the cost of the game.
The problem, of course, is that there's a conflict of interest. Is the review about the game or about earning a commission on the referral? Supporting VR games is a nice idea, but we need honest reviews.
According to UploadVR, an email from a Meta spokesperson said the company was aware of the issue and was taking steps to resolve it, stating, "This week we began blocking new reviews with specific types of URLs in them. We are also working to address existing reviews."
Meta's App Referral program
On December 7, 2022, Meta introduced its App Referral program. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Meta described it in a blog post as a "win-win scenario."
When you recommend your favorite game or app to friends, you can give them a personalized link with a 25% discount when purchased. You will receive a $5 credit for promoting a good game. What could possibly go wrong?
While five dollars isn't a big payday, it can add up to hundreds of dollars in store credit. With 20 million Quest headsets on the market, there are plenty of VR customers checking regularly for the best Quest games.
Quest review credibility suffers
After the introduction of Meta's App Referral program, referral links began appearing in game reviews. Clearly, you wouldn't expect anyone to buy a game you've rated poorly, and therein lies the conflict.
To earn the referral credit via a Quest app store review, devious-minded scammers must give everything 5-star stars, whether deserving or not. Even if the recommendation is genuine, its validity is compromised by adding the link.
We found Moss: Book 2 to be a clever and entertaining game, going so far as describing it as a masterpiece. It's a shame that some of the most recent Quest Store reviewers lead with the 25% discount and use link shorteners or attempt to hide the link from Meta by removing a letter. Note the instruction from the second review to "put the L in oculus."
This issue was raised recently by Brad Lynch in a tweet complaining that some Quest reviews are becoming "shady ads." The example given is a review for Virtual Desktop, which is indeed a good app. Unfortunately, the first three lines of the review are dedicated to the referral link disguised with a shortened Bitly link.
It’s somewhat fitting that Quest Store reviews are turning into shady ads pic.twitter.com/1Mh6yozeZm
— Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) March 6, 2023
At the moment, only new game and app reviews are being blocked. Meta's challenge when cleaning up existing problems will be to remove referral links without unfairly punishing games that have a substantial number of questionable reviews.