Microsoft has amended the ratings system for its Xbox Live Indie Games channel, allowing only Xbox Live Gold members to leave ratings for games on the service through the Xbox.com web site.
[UPDATE: Microsoft has clarified to Gamasutra that Xbox Live Silver members will still be able to rate Indie Games through the Xbox 360 console, but will no longer be able to provide rankings through Xbox.com]
Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games -- makers of Xbox Live indie RPG titles including Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World -- noted the alleged manipulation on the Facebook page for XBLIG game College Lacrosse: The Video Game.
The developer of the game was urging fans to provide 5-star ratings to boost the game up the XBLIG charts. Boyd also alleged many of those fans went further than that, providing the minimum 1-star rating to competing XBLIG titles to help improve the Lacrosse games' positions.
A post on the XNA Game Studio Team blog has revealed that the rating system has now changed. Only Xbox Live Gold members can rate the games on the service from today.
"By implementing this change, we believe our customers will experience more consistent ratings and a significantly-reduced potential for abuse across the entire Xbox catalog," said the blog post.
Concerning the alleged 1-star voting, the team explained, "We have also investigated rolling back suspect votes, however, we determined it will not be possible to do this."
However, it did note, "In addition, we are investigating users who may have violated their user agreement during this series of events. Violating user agreements may result in actions up to and including banning from Xbox Live, removal of currently posted games, and loss of ability to post games in the future."
Xbox Live Indie Games developers have already been voicing their concerns in the comments section of the blog post, with Matthew Doucette of Xona Games (Decimation X, Duality ZF) arguing, "I'm also voting for efforts on cancelling the bad votes."
"The damage done is devastating. Our two top-30 games have ratings below 160 now, off the charts. That type of damage can only be repaired by Microsoft. And according to stats, we were receiving a fairly consistent five 1-star votes per day, so should be easy to nail down."