Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack! is Amazon’s free app of the day today. Store Link

How’s it doing?

It’s currently the #1 free app, which is great. It’s getting more reviews than most of the other apps that have been in their free promotion, which is great. BUT 75% of those reviews are coming from people claiming the game is spyware and rating it 1 star, which is not so great.

How’d that happen?

Every Android app has a list of permissions people see before they install it. My app requested 5 permissions and one of those was GET_TASKS. This permission allows the app to see other apps that are running on the phone, and people are very turned off by the wording of it. The reason the permission was included is because I’ve used Mobclix (which requires the permission to run) in other apps in the past and have been reusing the file where the permissions are listed. I left it in thinking it wasn’t a big deal.

So what happened?

People flooded the Amazon store with 1-star reviews claiming the app is spyware/malware/hunt-you-down-in-the-middle-of-the-night-ware. Once a few people made the claim everyone jumped on board. I can assure you we’re not stealing your info in any way. The game currently has 30 5-star reviews and 230 1-star reviews on Amazon’s app store. However, I’ve had that same permission in the Android Market version of the game since it launched 2 months ago and it currently has 60 5-star reviews and 3 1-star reviews. No one cares there.

What did we do?

I woke up to an early call from the publisher explaining the problem. I made a new build of the game that removed the permission in question and thankfully Amazon worked with us to quickly approve the fix. The fix went live and the reviews are noticeably better, but the damage has been done. And just in case, I updated the Android market version and removed the permission request.

What’s next?

Since the store’s flooded with spyware reviews people think the current permissions are still scary. People just don’t realize that these permissions, and much much more are granted to Apple apps behind the scenes and no one’s complaining there (well, some people are, but Apple’s pretty good about being on top of any foul play). Angry birds requests almost 2x the number of permissions in the Amazon app store and people are fine downloading it.

It’s not a big deal in terms of potential sales, but it’s just good to know what people complain about and how it happened. If you’re thinking about putting your game in Amazon’s app store just be careful about what permissions you add, and think about explaining what the permissions do in your description.