To both the disappointment and excitement of some developers, there was a significant change to the list of Top Grossing titles in Apple's App Store this weekend. As a result, many developers are left wondering if it was merely just a bug or if Apple began testing a new algorithm that could either bump out their app from the top spots or give their app a boost to help it climb up.
Reports surfaced on Friday about the changes to the App Store's Top Grossing chart after one developer noticed their app went from the 2nd on the list down to number 35.
While it's highly unlikely that all of a sudden people were downloading other more niche paid titles more than that app, this lead some to wonder what was the reason behind the drastic drop.
Top Grossing Charts on iOS look interesting today. Apparently loads of people prepping for theory tests. pic.twitter.com/069izVTMtl— George Osborn (@GeorgeOsborn) February 20, 2017
Interestingly enough, the all of a sudden rise in some smaller known apps and decline in popular titles on the chart only applied to those Top Grossing apps. The change did not occur on the Top Paid or Top Free charts.
By Monday, the Top Grossing chart was reported to be back to its normal self. The chart has the usual suspects like Pokemon Go, Candy Crush Saga, Netflix and Clash of Clans leading the pack on Tuesday as they typically do.
It is possible that the App Store was hit with a bug. However, the sudden change could also point to the work of a new algorithm.
If it was an algorithm, then it no longer ranked apps based on its overall revenue. Instead, it favors paid apps.
It was paid apps that rose up the chart, whereas subscription apps (titles that make their money via in-app purchases) were left down the list. In fact, six out of 10 of the Top 10 Grossing apps were paid apps at one point.
If Apple were to start ranking this way, it would prevent the Top Grossing chart from remaining unchanged at the top and shake things up with new popular titles that could be discovered. It would help highlight those paid apps that are doing well at the moment, and move down subscription apps like Netflix that will probably always hog up a top spot.
As seen with this weekend's experiment, this change could really help indie games in having a real shot at competing against the big guys.
Although ranking went back to normal by Monday, it could be a sign of what's to come.