Microsoft has begun to investigate claims that users are purposefully manipulating the rating of Xbox Live Indie Games, in order to raise or lower titles in the overall rankings for the service.
"We are investigating a possible misuse of ratings on #XBLIG titles. We'll announce more information here as it develops," read a comment on the official XNACommunity Twitter account.
The issue was first brought to light by Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games, developers of popular Indie titles Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. Writing on a Gamasutra blog, Boyd recounted how the developer's game saw an unexpected drop in overall ranking from number six to number 11 in the space of a week.
After investigating he discovered that the creators of Indie game College Lacrosse had asked their fans to raise the ratings of their games - with some taking it upon themselves to give rival titles in the top 10 the lowest possible rating, even though in many cases they had not purchased the game.
Although Boyd was careful to point out that the College Lacrosse developers had not encouraged anyone to negatively mark rival games, they had explained how to create an account and vote even if a fan did not own an Xbox 360.
Boyd questioned whether ratings should be limited only to people who have played the game, or at least the demo, given the severe financial implications of losing a top 10 rating.
The Apple App Store currently allows only users who have purchased an app to rate it.