The Sad Saga of Gold Strike For the Mac App Store
The story begins in December, 2010. The Mac App store is about to launch, and I have some time on my hands. I decide to see if it is possible to create a valid Mac app using Flash. You can read about that here.
So the game gets in the Mac App store, and I price it at: free. A good way to test out the waters of the Mac App store. And it pays off with top-ten rankings and lots of downloads. Maybe even a few people got it for Mac and then decided to also buy Gold Strike for iOS. But it turns out not, at least according to my stats.
But there is a bug hidden deep in the game. On January 1, 2012 it shows itself: an old piece of security code that prevents the game from working after 2011.
I spring into action on that day, cutting a family vacation short and heading home to work on it. A simple fix and the game is re-submitted that day.
But it takes two weeks for Apple to get to reviewing it. All the time I get tons of complains and bad reviews, many insisting that I am up to no good for some reason. A side-effect of the bug is that it takes you to the Gold Strike web-based game, which is also free. But people see fit to think that I am trying to do something evil and that it is all part of some sort of villainous plan. I’ve got information up in the description of the game on the Mac App store, explaining the problem and that a fix is on the way, but people just ignore it.
Then I get a message from Apple that the update has been rejected because of a technicality. The title of the game window isn’t to their liking. It is the same title as the original game, but they reject it this time. And there is no way for me to alter it because of the weird way in which I am using Flash to create the app.
So they leave the old game up there — the one that no longer works at all — and do not approve the one that works but displays a window title they don’t like. The same window title in the old version of the game, at least before 2012 when it worked.
What they actually said to me is that the name of the game must match the name of the title in the app store. One was “Gold Strike” and the other “GoldStrike.app.” So I fixed that, making the app name “Gold Strike.app.” Cue ominous foreshadowing music.
I appealed the decision. The appeal was accepted and Gold Strike was back in the Mac App store, and everyone could update. A fix was in place. All is well in the kingdom.
But no. Turns out that when you try to update Gold Strike you get an error. Some sort of “hash mismatch” error. What?
Well, after some investigation, it turns out that when you update an app in the Mac App store, if the name of the application file changes, this error is what happens. To every single person trying to update. Turns out a lot of developers get caught by this. Search for “mac app store update hash mismatch.”
So my change from GoldStrike.app to Gold Strike.app is probably responsible. But I did this only to appease the Mac App store reviewer. And the reviewer, so concerned about my window title, didn’t say a word about this change.
If changing the name of your application file will cause this error, then you shouldn’t be allowed to change the name of your application file. Or, better yet, it shouldn’t cause this error!
So now I’m faced with people complaining about this “hash mismatch” issue. I’ve updated the description text on the app page in the store, I’ve put it right at the top of the page you get to if you click “support” on that page too. I’ve even added my own comment to the reviews to explain it.
But still, I get 1-star reviews because of this problem. And there’s nothing I can do about it. No way to respond to individual reviews in the Mac App (or iOS) store. So people leave the review, frustrated, and there is no way for me to help them.
One guy even had the nerve to change his review from 1 to 3 stars, claiming that it only gets 3 stars because I should have tested this first. But there is no way to test this, nor to know this would happen, unless I had happened to know about this hash mismatch bug from some random reading previously.
Oh, and of course I am stuck with the name Gold Strike.app now. If I were to change it back to GoldStrike.app, the whole thing would happen all over again.
So, the game is free. It is supposed to be a fun thing I’m doing to give away one of my best games to Mac users. But the recent result is a lot of bad negative energy. This has become a distraction for me. So I’m seriously thinking about taking the game off of the Mac App store permanently. Probably will, by the time you read this.