Several users took to Twitter to voice their displeasure after subcategories in the App Store Games section were shown to be displaying multiple variations of similarly named apps spanning several pages.
More examples quickly followed, and apps with almost identical titles consisting of numbers were shown to dominate several "New", "Featured" and "What's Hot" sections in categories around the world, suggesting a complete breakdown in the way the algorithm processes certain content in the App Store database.
The issue was reported by users in several countries, including New Zealand, Spain and the UK, but users in the U.S. were apparently unable to replicate the problem.
Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller, who took over App Store leadership in December, responded to the criticism via his Twitter account, promising to investigate the issue.
Back in November, Apple reportedly made significant improvements to the algorithm that ranks apps in the App Store, although those changes focused on returning more useful results following a specific keyword search.
Apple often hand-picks apps for promotion on the App Store landing page based purely on merit, but the bulk of the store's organization is automated. Apple has not revealed specifics about how its algorithm usually sorts listed categories, however it is generally accepted among developers that install frequency, reviews, star ratings, engagement and sales play a combined role.