So what is so-called Shuabang? That’s the Chinese saying of the manipulation practice of using various shady methods to propel an app onto the top of the App Store ranking. App-ranking manipulation has cornered small developers—their newborn apps might sink without the trick but the manipulation cost is really a financial burden to a small team. The status quo in China is that nearly 80% apps are ‘Shuabanged’ to the top rank, and hidden hands are in control of most Top 50 apps.

Shuabang: the Only Choice for small developers

Wu Gang, CEO of mobile game developer WiSTONE recently summed up the mobile game market in 2012, noting that ranking manipulation has developed from a bud to a necessity for Chinese mobile developers. On the other hand, It explained why Shubang became a burden to small teams since the flourishing market led to the rise of manipulation cost directly.

Astepgame CEO Yang Zhongning also echoed that 80% apps among the top rank raised their places by way of manipulation. Insiders revealed that some developers event built dedicated team in charge of the evil deed.

Why developers are so addicted to the wrongdoing? On one hand, Shuabang can yield obvious results with relatively low costs compared with advertising. The advertising cost could be ten times higher. On the other hand, nice ranking could also help developer get more attentions from investors.

Ecosystem was damaged, developers trapped, users disturbed

The storm of Shuabang not only deprived new products of exposure to the public, but also compromised user experience.

Spending RMB 2,500 per day, shuabang company could pin your app into Top 100 while RMB 10k per day translates to Top 50. The market was totally disrupted. It’s just a matter of time that people find out the App Store ranking are trashed with subpar titles, costing the credibility of the ranking. Eventually, developer will have to figure out other methods to promote their app. Verily, that is the way of the app world in China.

She reads, travels, photographs and writes, with interests in chronicling China tech scene and interpreting how technology disrupts the way people live.

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