Case study: Why does Horn “only” have a rating of 2.7/5 on the Play Store?

Horn by Phosphor Games is a Tegra exclusive game. It has been the case from the time of launch up until this very moment. However, that never stopped it from being able to be purchased or downloaded by users on non-Tegra devices. It’s an interesting little scenario that seems to be doing more harm than good though.

Name: Horn | Developer: Phosphor Games | Category: RPG | Version: 1.0 | Size: 1.7 GB | Average Rating: 2.7 | Price: $6.99

Just look at the Play Store reviews and you’ll see people with Samsung Galaxy Note IIs, HTC Droid DNAs and for heaven’s sake even the Samsung Galaxy Camera complaining that the game just force closes upon launch. On my device’s list, the Sony Xperia Ion and Asus Padfone 2 are able to download the game, as well as some single-core phones!

What many of these people don’t know is that their devices aren’t even supposed to download the game. Here is where I think Google should step in and take action against Zynga. For starters, no where it is mentioned in the description that the game is only available for Tegra devices. The term “optimized” is used instead.

Worse still is that Zynga has full control on which devices are able to buy the game. Fair enough, they may have made a mistake at launch, but surely they got to know of this “mistake” soon enough, right? Why not correct it then? Why allow the game to get a litany of undeserving one-star reviews?

Or, as some conspiracy theorists might suggest, this was intentional from the start? That Zynga, itself not a credible company at all, allowed non-Tegra devices to buy the game so that they could make some extra cash? This theory is plausible, but there are two things going against it; one is that Zynga surely mustn’t be that desperate for cash and two the one-star reviews would anyway dissuade a majority of non-Tegra users from buying the game.

How this has been allowed to go on for over five months now is beyond me. At the very least, if Zynga shows no interest in correcting the list of compatible devices, Phosphor Games, the developers, should take the initiative. Allowing non-compatible devices to buy the game and doing nothing to correct it despite knowing about this is akin to stealing. And that is just awful.

What infuriates gamers even more is that beyond the 15 minutes refund window, you have to go through an exhaustive list of steps to even be able to contact Zynga , and even then a refund is not guaranteed. If you try to ask for a manual refund from Google, it’d say something along the lines that the game is free (which it is not!) and a refund request form will therefore not appear. There is a lesson here for gamers – take the trouble to read user reviews, especially if a game has a rating below 4 because sometimes a game just won’t play nice with a device model.

This is basically the main reason Horn has got a 2.7/5 rating on the Play Store, with almost half of the 4000 ratings of the 1 star variety. There are other reasons too, such as force closing on Tegra 3 devices, lags and low framerate issues. Looking back at this episode, it is sad that Zynga has not bothered to correct anything nor issue updates to improve performance on devices that are actually compatible. This sadness is compounded by the fact that this was the showcase game during the Nexus 7 launch event.

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