Monkeys Left Red-Faced At Trying To “Game” The System!

Mark Stephens

If we ran a respected game review site and received emails from game developers about the release of a new app, with an accompanying review or two already written by the developer and a request to cut and paste portions of the review on our site, we would probably feel a bit indignant; even insulted.


Well, we naughty chimps at Monkeybin were left a little red-faced this week when two review sites published this and this about our new release of Jumpship Thrust Control 2. It was also covered by Tim Smith of online video game site Spong here.

Quite a mess, really! And we read the reviews with a mixture of incredulity and shame.

While there are certain inaccuracies in the comments about the game itself, the reviewers were totally and utterly right in their summary of the whole approach to pre-written reviews: there is no place for that underhand rubbish on the Web.

Let’s Back-Track to the Monkeybin Outsourcing Model

As you may know Jumpship Thrust Control 2 is one of Monkeybin’s favourite sons! We’ve put a lot of blood sweat and tears into that game – not to mention more than $50,000!

We are constantly busy with developing new apps and games, so our time to run the day-to-day affairs of Monkeybin is limited; we therefore take advantage of an outsourcing business model – with some coders, article writing (even this blog post) and other essentials being outsourced.

As we’d ploughed a lot of resources into Jumpship we wanted a proper marketing job done on the game so we used our outsourcing approach to hire a marketing manager to promote the release of Jumpship and other upcoming apps and software….little suspecting what would follow.

Then The “You Know What” Hit The “You Know What”!

Here’s where the problems started. A couple of sample reviews were requested by the outsourced marketing manager and promptly provided by another outsourced contractor. They were then attached to numerous emails that went out to game review sites.

Of course approaching game sites for reviews of new releases is standard practice and, whilst some sites may get bombarded and not have time to review them all, it certainly does make marketing sense to contact them and have a “ticket in the lottery” as it were.

But asking for copy and paste reviews is, frankly, ridiculous; it goes against everything that people researching on the net want and is basically “gaming” the system. It dilutes the integrity of the Internet as a whole – and lord knows it’s already been diluted enough by PR companies with fake reviews, fake forum posts, fake blog comments and so on.

Our Apology

Fake reviews of all sorts of products abound on the web – from electric shavers through to cars – but most quality gaming sites have always tried to shun the more underhand PR tactics that are designed to deceive rather than to inform….to force people to buy something rather than making an informed decision.

So let it be said on the record that we are sorry…VERY sorry this has happened…and we believe in doing things the right way.

The CEO of Monkeybin, Haakon, has written to personally apologise to the offended reviewers and journalists in question and he took sole responsibility for the error of judgment, even though he didn’t sanction the fake reviews – the first thing he knew of it was when the reviews were brought to his attention.

He (the contractor) was free to do the promotions the way he thought would be the best, since we were pressed for time and focused on other projects. It resulted in methods that are not up to Monkeybin’s ethics or standards, and not at all how we want to be perceived by the gaming community.

Put that down to a little inexperience with marketing people in general and especially outsourced marketers who are given a free reign to do as they see fit for a week or so. This clearly got out of hand.

Bruised But Ready For the Fight!

We will certainly be taking a different approach to outsourcing in general – and marketing in particular; this has been a rather hard lesson on the steep learning curve of trying to run a successful independent app development business, competing for a slice of the pie with the big guys.

So we are bruised and battered a little from the experience…but certainly not disheartened and we’re a long way from “game over”; an awful long way….for us the games are just beginning.

We are ready to fight to show our good intentions and to restore our good name. We plan to be around a while so we’re ready for the long journey ahead – and we’d rather make that journey with plenty of friends, not enemies!