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Google Play Account Terminated
Started by MAS1 Jun 18 2014 11:49 PM

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#1

MAS1

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Hello,

 

So - I'm feeling rather dejected at the moment. Truth is, my apps were non-compliant and I can't really argue/appeal the case.

 

Up until this morning I had 30+ quizzes on Google Play. Many of them were sports quizzes and I appear to have suffered the 3 strikes and you are out on copyright infringement.

 

The 3 quizzes that were removed this morning were an American football players quiz (NFL was in the title), a football (soccer) quiz (FIFA was in the title) and another football (soccer stadiums) quiz (FIFA again in the title). Immediately following the emails I got this morning about the removal of the 3 quizzes, I got an Account Termination email.

 

I had the words FIFA, and NFL in the quiz titles. Just checked FIFA on Google Play and there are lots and lots of apps using the word FIFA - many without permission I'm sure. 

 

I've only just finished uploading all these quizzes in one batch - using Corona's x-platform capability to move my already established quizzes on iOS over to Google play. It doesn't make my actions right, but there are copyright infringements all over Google Play (and iOS!) for quizzes and it's rather painful to get the termination knowing that there are many many many violations on there. I could list several quizzes by developers on this forum who are in violation who have not had their accounts terminated. No need, I'm really not trying to rage at individuals - just at Google Play for their seemingly random targeting.

 

There will be people reading this and agree with Google Play - and I get that. 

 

It's ironic - Apple accepted the quizzes months ago and they have (usually) strict human reviewers and Google Play have rejected. Ouch.

 

This is a heads up for those developers (and there are many on here doing quizzes) that may fall foul.

 

Sigh. :(

 

MAS1

 

PS I will contact Google Play and ask if it was the images (players & stadiums) or the quiz names or both that were non-compliant.



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#2

ToeKnee

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Just for information purposes - are we talking about image/logo copyright infringement here - or use of team names/ player names?

T.

 

Well with FIFA your going up against EA & FIFA and that could be trademark related. 

 

Thats before you get to any images and likenesses issues.

Sorry.

T.



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#3

MAS1

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@ToeKnee

 

Original post edited to answer your question.



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#4

nick_sherman

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I should think it was the titles that caught the attention of the lawyers - I'm sure they would do a period sweep of the store to check for app titles with trademark infringements.

 

Visual quiz apps make up about 70% of my portfolio so I've been waiting for a 'knock on the door' for a while, but so far dodged the bullet.

 

As an aside I'm finishing up my current projects and then probably moving on from mobile development to more ambitious projects for PC/Mac with Unity - so many hoops to jump through now and the changes to the app store since iOS 6 have been a nightmare for indie developers.

 

A new app would always get around 2,000 downloads on day one in the UK, then its quality would decide its fate. Now, you just cannot get any visibility by virtue of being a new app unless you hit the jackpot and someone at apple discovers it. 90% of my revenue still comes from apps released when there was a 'new releases' tab.



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#5

Gremlin Interactive

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I should think it was the titles that caught the attention of the lawyers - I'm sure they would do a period sweep of the store to check for app titles with trademark infringements.

Visual quiz apps make up about 70% of my portfolio so I've been waiting for a 'knock on the door' for a while, but so far dodged the bullet.

As an aside I'm finishing up my current projects and then probably moving on from mobile development to more ambitious projects for PC/Mac with Unity - so many hoops to jump through now and the changes to the app store since iOS 6 have been a nightmare for indie developers.

A new app would always get around 2,000 downloads on day one in the UK, then its quality would decide its fate. Now, you just cannot get any visibility by virtue of being a new app unless you hit the jackpot and someone at apple discovers it. 90% of my revenue still comes from apps released when there was a 'new releases' tab.


This.

It's quite ludicrous really how the indie developers who largely made the app store/s what they are today, have now been pushed aside in favour of the large studios (ea, king etc).

Imagine it was still the early 90's for a minute and you couldn't afford a games magazine. Add to this that instead of stores putting new releases to the front of the shelves, they burried them behind every game that was there before. Also, they had no way to search for just new games, and you were told to just start digging.

That of course didn't happen (the shelf part) but that scenario is pretty much what we are left with today.

Quite sad really. We are releasing a free game within the next few weeks on mobile and just know that it's going to be invisible, as we don't have enough marketing money to throw at it.

Indies have been excluded from the app store now i feel, in every sense except them been able to submit apps.

I, like Nick, am going to look to Unity and make PC/Console games in the future and drop mobile, for games at least.

My 2¢ ;)

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#6

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Glad I'm not the only one who is feeling this way! You can't move for Candy Crush and Pet Rescue ads, so even if I did take a punt and throw £2-3k at a CPI campaign, I'm not sure it would make a dent.

 

I suppose the flip argument is to make paid games of indisputable quality that can't have 100 clones from India popup as soon as they get any traction. Unfortunately I can only do UI graphics and have never been able to find a reliable artist willing to work on a 50/50 share of profits basis.

 

 

 

This.

It's quite ludicrous really how the indie developers who largely made the app store/s what they are today, have now been pushed aside.

Imagine it was still the early 90's for a minute and you couldn't afford a games magazine. Add to this that instead of stores putting new releases to the front of the shelves, they burried them behind every game that was there before. Also, they had no way to search for just new games, and you were told to just start digging.

That of course didn't happen (the shelf part) but that scenario is pretty much what we are left with today.

Quite sad really. We are releasing a free game within the next few weeks on mobile and just know that it's going to be invisible, as we don't have enough marketing money to throw at it.

Indies have been excluded from the app store now i feel, in every sense except them been able to submit apps.

I, like Nick, am going to look to Unity and make PC/Console games in the future and drop mobile, for games at least.

My 2¢ ;)



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#7

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Glad I'm not the only one who is feeling this way! You can't move for Candy Crush and Pet Rescue ads, so even if I did take a punt and throw £2-3k at a CPI campaign, I'm not sure it would make a dent.

 

I suppose the flip argument is to make paid games of indisputable quality that can't have 100 clones from India popup as soon as they get any traction. Unfortunately I can only do UI graphics and have never been able to find a reliable artist willing to work on a 50/50 share of profits basis.

 

Heh, then you get that other old problem of people wanting everything for free. LOL.

Can't win either way right now as an indie game developer on mobile, unless your one of the lucky ones.

 

I have a good artist (my fiancee), but no time to make games right now. 

 

Best of luck with your future games!



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#8

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@nick

+ 1

@Gremlin

+1

 

Just my 2 cents - although since i bundled them together -> true value 1 cent - before 30% cut, tax, and general inflation erosion.

T.



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#9

renato.bugge

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Glad I'm not the only one who is feeling this way! You can't move for Candy Crush and Pet Rescue ads, so even if I did take a punt and throw £2-3k at a CPI campaign, I'm not sure it would make a dent.

 

I suppose the flip argument is to make paid games of indisputable quality that can't have 100 clones from India popup as soon as they get any traction. Unfortunately I can only do UI graphics and have never been able to find a reliable artist willing to work on a 50/50 share of profits basis.

 

Well, one of the things of using some £/€/$ for a CPI campaign is to see wheter the game has a crowd or not. You will see pretty soon if its gaining followers or if its just a flop.

 

When you do this you want to gather alot of data. You want to see which levels they play, how long, if they use social plugins and so on.

 

You also want to do this in a low CPI country like South Korea (http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2012/09/28/chartboost-can-aus-cpi/) to get most installs during testing.

 

After you gather all the data you need to sit down and see what you can get out of it. Is there a level that is more popular? Any age group that stands out? Did the CPI give you additional installs or advert revenue? And so on..

 

Its a long game to make out what gives an app its edge and what is a turn-off. CPI campaigns shorten the data-gathering, but it depends on how much you are willing to spend. Without an in-app-store you are probably not going to get the funds back either..



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#10

MAS1

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Well, it appears to be rampant:

 

http://google play account terminated forum site:productforums.google.com

 

Google are yanking developer accounts en mass in recent weeks. Bar Stewards.

 

I may look to upload to Amazon and/or other stores. Is it worth it? I don't know...

 

@Nick Sherman - agreed, I think the NFL/FIFA references undid me. I'll bet the farm that Google won't reply to my inquiry re: was it images or NFL/FIFA references that were the termination reason?

 

As for appealing, all my research reveals that there is no human reviewer. The appeals are considered and rejected immediately with a canned automated esponse.

 

Google clearly are an ugly company: http://www.seroundtable.com/google-adsense-class-action-lawsuit-18589.html

 

I can take some "comfort" (not in a schadenfreude way) that I am aware of 3 developers (2 of them Corona developers) that have tried without success to monetize quizzes on Android. Even the Hi Guess the ? (very successful Corona quiz developer on iOS last year) did poorly on Android.

 

Oh well, no point wallowing. What's done is done.

 

@Nick Sherman @Gremlin Interactive

10 years ago I worked on PS2 games. Even moderately complex games took teams,time and money. I genuinely wish you luck with it, but even with Unity's RAD/heavy lifting capabilities it's not appealing to me. I'd start a project and it'd likely never complete. I fully appreciate that that may not be the case with you guys though!

 

Going forward I'll be looking at small/mini-games on iOS  (each with weeks rather than months of development). Before I did the quizzes on iOS I teamed up with a 1st rate vector artist from Edinburgh (I'm UK based myself) and we worked on a great "Angry Birds" killer for 4 months. It was a stupid thing to do and I didn't draw on my previous experience as a console developer. Upshot was that the artist any myself woefully underestimated the project gestation. Result - it was canned.

 

Hence my desire to avoid ambitious projects!

 

I'm rambling... :D

 

Good luck!

 

MAS1



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#11

ksan

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@MAS1, I am very sorry to hear of Google decision. It just makes me wonder if its worth developing for Google / Android as its likely that the same will happen to me sooner or later. I feel the way Google terminates accounts without any possibility for remediation is horrible. This has to change! All they had to do was to serve you a notice... Take down the app or change content or else... and you would have most likely complied. This really makes me want to stop using other google services too. 



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#12

MAS1

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@Ksan,

 

Thanks for those words - gives me some comfort.

 

Did I infringe? Yes.

Is infringement widespread on Google Play (and elsewhere)? Yes.

Does it make my actions right? No.

Are Google Play draconian in serving me with a lifetime ban? Hell yeah.

 

I'm uploading to Amazon now. Not sure what ads to run. I dare not continue with AdMob as that a/c could and probably will be terminated sometime soon.

 

I had to laugh to myself at the knots people tangle themselves in to try and circumvent Google once banned for life to get a new account and re-upload. All the online chatter about different credit cards, IP change, VPN, new laptop, buying a GP account etc etc. Pointless IMHO. No one outside Google really knows what methods they use to track and enforce lifetime bans. So many reported cases of people trying to get round Google only to find themselves banned again  - repeatedly.

 

I've spent far too much time reading up on peoples' account termination stories. Frankly, Google's reaction is disproportionate to the violation. As you say Ksan, I would have complied and removed offending apps. Lifetime ban? It's beyond a joke.

 

If the Amazon store doesn't pay then I'll be moving to swift and life post-corona. Just renewed Corona too. Ouch!

 

Best of luck all with your apps everyone - and watch out for Google Play - tales of woe aplenty online about those folks!

 

MAS1



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#13

ksan

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Wow. This is really horrible. How can one trust Google to do the right thing and consider them a business partner? How can one invest in energy and spend countless hours only to be chopped at the knees like this. Even the most despicable criminals get a chance to defend themselves in court. Totally unacceptable. Google really needs to rethink this process.



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#14

MAS1

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I agree totally Ksan with what you have written.

 

Meantime Amazon approved my app within 24 hours of submission. Just waiting for it to go live!

 

Will need to see what ad options there are...



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#15

MAS1

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Here's my inquiry to Google and their response:
 
On 06/22/14 20:51:11 xyz@gmail.com wrote:
registered_email_address: xyz@gmail.com 
prior: no 
appeal_reason: I am not appealing the decision. 
 
I simply want to know if my AdMob account will be terminated? 
 
Thanks for your help. 
 
xyz. 
 
Here's Google's response:
 
Hi,
 
Thank you for your note.
After reviewing your appeal, we have confirmed our initial decision and will not be reinstating your developer account.
 
Your Google Play Developer account has been terminated due to multiple policy violations by this or associated accounts. For more information on the app removals that lead to this termination please refer to the REASON FOR REMOVAL section(s) of notification emails sent to the registered address(es) of your developer account(s). You may also review the Content Policy and the Developer Distribution Agreement.
 
Note that Google Play Developer Console terminations are associated with developers, and may span multiple account registrations and related Google services. Do not attempt to register a new developer account. Any subsequent registrations will be closed and your developer registration fee will not be refunded.
 
We are unable to provide further details and will not respond to additional inquiries. We recommend that you utilize an alternative method for distributing your apps in the future.
 
Regards,
The Google Play Team
 
What a bunch of Muppets. I was going to put in my original inquiry "if you reply with an appeal rejected response then I'll know you have not read my email"
I didn't write that becasue I thought that if I did get a human reviwer then I don't want to irk him/her.
 
In the style of Panc (a developer on these forums with a 1st rate sense of humor) I'll leave The new CEO Quentin Tarantino of Google to respond to all future developer inquiries:
 
 
When you watch the short clip - make sure you are imagining that Quentin Tarantino is Google CEO and has terminated your Google Play developer account! Hilarious!
 
Reagards,
 
MAS1.
 
Question - How do I contact these Muppets without usung snail mail? Anyone?


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#16

Gremlin Interactive

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Here's my inquiry to Google and their response:
 
On 06/22/14 20:51:11 xyz@gmail.com wrote:
registered_email_address: xyz@gmail.com 
prior: no 
appeal_reason: I am not appealing the decision. 
 
I simply want to know if my AdMob account will be terminated? 
 
Thanks for your help. 
 
xyz. 
 
Here's Google's response:
 
Hi,
 
Thank you for your note.
After reviewing your appeal, we have confirmed our initial decision and will not be reinstating your developer account.
 
Your Google Play Developer account has been terminated due to multiple policy violations by this or associated accounts. For more information on the app removals that lead to this termination please refer to the REASON FOR REMOVAL section(s) of notification emails sent to the registered address(es) of your developer account(s). You may also review the Content Policy and the Developer Distribution Agreement.
 
Note that Google Play Developer Console terminations are associated with developers, and may span multiple account registrations and related Google services. Do not attempt to register a new developer account. Any subsequent registrations will be closed and your developer registration fee will not be refunded.
 
We are unable to provide further details and will not respond to additional inquiries. We recommend that you utilize an alternative method for distributing your apps in the future.
 
Regards,
The Google Play Team
 
What a bunch of Muppets. I was going to put in my original inquiry "if you reply with an appeal rejected response then I'll know you have not read my email"
I didn't write that becasue I thought that if I did get a human reviwer then I don't want to irk him/her.
 
In the style of Panc (a developer on these forums with a 1st rate sense of humor) I'll leave The new CEO Quentin Tarantino of Google to respond to all future developer inquiries:
 
 
When you watch the short clip - make sure you are imagining that Quentin Tarantino is Google CEO and has terminated your Google Play developer account! Hilarious!
 
Reagards,
 
MAS1.
 
Question - How do I contact these Muppets without usung snail mail? Anyone?

 

 

Man... so effectively a lifetime ban? That is extremely harsh imho.

 

I think just asking you to remove the offending apps and issuing you with a warning would have sufficed. It's especially unfair in this case due to the fact that everyone and their dog has apps on the Play store with numerous copyright violations. 

 

I would keep fighting this, there must be a way through the robot barrier.... do they have any kind of phone support service?



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#17

MAS1

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Yup - banned for life. I think it's Google's (over) reaction to all the rubbish that was/is on the store and they're trying to tidy.

 

The three strikes and you're out should, imho, be applied differently. I should have had one strike and given the opportunity to remove offending apps.

 

Anyone have a contact with a human response? Email preferred so I have something in writing. Honestly - account termination is more widespread than you think. Just Google it (ironic!).

 

I have signed a petition:

 

http://forums.coronalabs.com/topic/40668-what-to-do-with-google-play-publisher-account-has-been-terminated/

 

As is the way we these things - unless you're affected you're unlikely to sign.

 

It's sheer maddening that I can't easily discover if my AdMob account is in jeopardy. Not to mention all the violations on Google Play. One rule for all? Not a chance! Google should have a human reviewer. I really don't want to put too much time into this and/or let it consume me. 

 

What's next for me?

 

Move on from Google Play. iOS is where my earnings have been thus far. I've already started uploading to Amazon (apps accepted by a human reviewer - no rejection - just like iOS). I'm now on eLance and oDesk ... we'll see what that brings.

 

Best of luck!

 

MAS1



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#18

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For interest sake - you mentioned "3 emails - then the account termination email" - did the previous emails mention possible future repercussions - So you may have been unlucky to have all 3 strikes within the same day - i.e. no time to really react.

 

T.



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#19

MAS1

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Here is one of the 3 emails I received (all at the same time) for an app removal:

 

 

This is a notification that your application, XXX, with package ID YYY, has been removed from the Google Play Store.

 

REASON FOR REMOVAL: Violation of the intellectual property and impersonation or deceptive behavior provisions of the Content Policy. Please refer to the IP infringement andimpersonation policy help article for more information.

All violations are tracked. Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts. If your account is terminated, payments will cease and Google may recover the proceeds of any past sales and the cost of any associated fees (such as chargebacks and payment transaction fees) from you.

If your developer account is still in good standing, you may revise and upload a policy compliant version of your application as a new package name. Before uploading any new applications, please review the Developer Distribution Agreement and Content Policy.

If you feel we have made this determination in error, you can visit the Google Play Help Center article for additional information regarding this removal.

The Google Play Team

 

At the same time I also received the a/c termination email. Google gave me no time to remove offending content. I got all 3 strikes at once.

 

Arnold can sum it up for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy_BBBGBpqA

 

 



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#20

renato.bugge

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Man... so effectively a lifetime ban? That is extremely harsh imho.

 

I think just asking you to remove the offending apps and issuing you with a warning would have sufficed. It's especially unfair in this case due to the fact that everyone and their dog has apps on the Play store with numerous copyright violations. 

 

I would keep fighting this, there must be a way through the robot barrier.... do they have any kind of phone support service?

 

It probably easier to register a new account than to combat google's lawyers. Set up a company, register it in your wife's name, your dogs or whatever.. ;P



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#21

MAS1

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@renato.bugge

 

It's just not worth trying to register a new account. I've spent too much time reading other folks' tales of woe re: Google Play account termination.

 

There's plenty of examples where developers have used different credit cards, IP change, VPN, new laptop, new keystore, buying a GP account etc etc. Event conjecture about code and asset scanning and pattern matching to detect multiple app submissions/account registrations..

 

Pointless IMHO. No one outside Google really knows what methods they use to track and enforce lifetime bans. So many reported cases of people trying to get round Google only to find themselves banned again  - repeatedly.

 

I've contacted Google again today using a form that (apparently) gets a human response. I'm asking about the standing of my AdMob account.

 

Not sure if it's a waste of effort uploading to Amazon now that I have a Google Play lifetime ban. Time will tell...

 

Here's what the Google CEO said (trying to maintain some humor about it - not easy!)

 

terminator-main2.jpg

 

Ouch!

 

Best - MAS1



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#22

ingemar

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This is so bad. Immediate removal of the violating apps is fine.... but termination of the developer account without a prior record of violations is really bad.



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#23

MAS1

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I'm devastated to be honest.

 

In the process of uploading to Amazon but it doesn't have the reach of Google Play. To make matters worse, Vungle and Adbuddiz are non-Amazon Android only.

 

Termination for life. FOR LIFE FFS! :-(

 

Hurrah for Apple at least.

 

:-(



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#24

ksan

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This is so bad. Immediate removal of the violating apps is fine.... but termination of the developer account without a prior record of violations is really bad.

 

Honestly, I don't want to publish on Android anymore. The possibility of any one app pulling down a whole house of cards is not a viable business model for me. I love Google Play Store for the ability to quickly publish and update apps but this possibility is adding too much stress to my shoulders.



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#25

ingemar

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The possibility of any one app pulling down a whole house of cards is not a viable business model for me.

 

I don't think it was only one app in particular that caused this. MAS1 just happened to have 3 apps that they deemed were in violation, and then all of a sudden the 3 strikes-your-out was swiftly put into action in one blow without any chance at all to react.

 

This is the problem when there's no approval process before an app goes live, and because of this, Google shouldn't take such drastic measures as terminating a developer's account with immediate effect without giving the developer a chance to correct whatever is wrong.

 

I think what Google should do is to tag the violating apps as unpublished, and contact the developer with the list of violating apps and explain the situation. If the developer still tries to publish them without proper modifications, only then, is a more drastic measure acceptable.

 

Given that the WorldCup in Brazil is still underway, I'm assuming that some legal juggernauts have been breathing down Google's neck recently which has resulted in Google (over)reacting to apps that target the games.

 

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