Apps and games on the Google Play Store have historically had aggregated review scores. In other words, Google adds up all the scores from users around the world and averages them out to create a final score. This is reflected by the star rating you see with all the apps and games on Google Play.
However, that system is changing significantly this year. In November 2021, Play Store ratings will see localization around the world. This means that Google will aggregate scores from users in one country and create a localized score. As such, an app’s rating in the United States, for example, could be very different from that same app’s rating in Japan.
Google explained this upcoming change in a blog post today. Here’s a relevant snippet:
We’ve heard from both Play Store users and developers that ratings and reviews could be more helpful. This is especially true when ratings from one area unfairly impact another — like when a bug that only impacted a single country negatively affects the app’s rating everywhere.
Google’s example there makes a lot of sense. Cultural issues could also affect Play Store ratings. For example, a game that is designed to cater to people who speak French and are aware of French culture might not be well-received by people from other countries. Why should that game’s rating get lowered by negative reviews from people who don’t “get” it?
In the future, Google will take things even further.
Localized ratings will start happening this year. Sometime next year, though, Google will incorporate at least one more variable: form factor. This means app reviews from tablet users will aggregate differently from reviews from phone users.
Google explained this change by using an example of “positive improvements in a tablet experience” for an app getting “overlooked because of the number of users on phones.”
This will affect all sorts of different platforms, including foldable phones, Android Auto-focused apps, and more.
Google did not give a firm rollout date for the introduction of form factor variables for Play Store ratings.
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