My Google Play developer account has been terminated

Phoney Girlfriend is a hit!

It all started in late 2013, Hubert and I got together to work on an Android app called Phoney Girlfriend. It launched in January 2014 and over the next year downloads and sales grew really high. Sales were so high, that I decided to leave my job. My Google Play development account was making twice as much as my pay.

Sales grew really high over 2014.

Sales grew really high over 2014.

February 13 2015 was my last day of work, and I immediately got to work on an iOS version. Things were great, I was making a lot of money and I didn’t need to work. I was a successful indie game developer!

Bad News

A week later, on Friday the 20th of February I wake up, and login to my Google Wallet account to check my sales results. They’re really low. Normally I can see 25-50 purchases in the last six hours, but this time there’s only six. Weird. I login to my gmail account and see this email.

The horrible email

The horrible email

Google has reviewed the Phoney Girlfriend, and determined it contains images with nudity. That is not true at all! We aren’t stupid, we wouldn’t upload an app with nude images. Click here for a zip file with all the images in Phoney Girlfriend. There aren’t any nude images.

So they’ve discovered the app violates their terms and services, and have immediately removed it from Google Play, and have sent me a computer generated email. The app was making $100,000 HKD a month, and they couldn’t even give me a phone call, or an email telling me what I can do to fix the app.

In 2011 I launched Get Rich or Die Gaming to iOS, after a few months they discovered the game has a lot of drug references and so they gave me a phone call, explained what was wrong with the app and what I could do to fix it. Get Rich or Die Gaming was a shit kicker app, it was making around $5 USD a day. Yet Apple took the time to call me and talk me through the issue.

Fix the issue

Google have found an issue with one of the images in the app, and they suggest I remove the image and resubmit. But they won’t tell me which image they have an issue with. They also state:

Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account

What am I supposed to do? Try to read their mind and figure out which image they could possibly consider in violation of their rules and then resubmit the app, all the while knowing a resubmission could take down my entire developer account.

Resubmission

I don’t really have much of a choice, so I go through all the images in the app, and remove any that someone could find offensive. I set up a new play store listing, create a new bundle id. I need a build in Alpha release to test out In App Purchases. So I upload whatever I have, and publish it to Alpha. Then I get to work on the IAP code.

Google Terminates my Developer Account.

Not long after I publish the build as an Alpha build, Google suspends the app, and soon after terminates my entire developer account. The alpha built was terminated for content violations, and the account was terminated for multiple violations.

An alpha build! It was a place holder APK just so that I could test out code. That’s what it’s like getting your developer account terminated by Google, totally Kafkaesque.

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Phoney Girlfriend is Profitable!

Two posts ago I talked about why I was halting work on Phoney Girlfriend.  In a previous post, I explained how we needed $66,673 HKD to break even, and we’ve finally done it!

money

It’s all profit from here on out!

Since the Tech In Asia article, a lot of other articles have been written, for some reason none of the other articles are in English. They’ve all checked out my previous blog post and concluded that we are no longer working on Phoney Girlfriend. That is not the case! About a month ago we noticed a big boost in downloads and sales so Hubert and I got back to working on Phoney Girlfriend, and we’ve got some exciting future plans.

"we are not sure why but you can interact with a creator of this App Angus Cheng (male). we are very curious what you will talk to him about....but in order to unlock him, you gotta pay 1337yen. he is more expensive than girlfriend"

“We are not sure why but you can interact with a creator of this App, Angus Cheng. We are very curious what you will talk to him about…. but in order to unlock him, you’ve got to pay 1337 Yen. He is more expensive than a girlfriend”

Future Plans

We are working on a new engine that allows for something we are calling situational scripts. Hmmm it seems Google Chrome does not believe situational is a word. I’ve been using it a lot to describe this new type of script. Shit.

In these situation scripts you play as a fictional character, and talk to other fictional characters. Right now in Phoney Girlfriend, the girlfriend is a fictional character, and you are someone without too much of a personality. So for example, I am working on a script where you play as Kim Jong Un, and you have to keep a hold of power during a tense political period.

You’ll receive messages from your advisers, army generals, Ambassador Rodman and Barack Obama. The game play will be the same, you make a decision out of three choices. Make the wrong decision and something terrible happens.

Rough notes for Kim Jong Un script.

Rough notes for Kim Jong Un script.

More Scripts

We are working on more scripts, but want to create higher quality stuff. We want the app to be more generalised. Not necessarily a fake girlfriend app, but a scripted chat application. Here’s a pretty funny audio message you receive from Yui the air hostess.

 Japanese translation

Based on no evidence whatsoever, and racial prejudice, I have decided that Japanese people will love Phoney Girlfriend. Only problem is, they do not speak English. So I have hired a translator to translate Brenda and Aloria’s scripts into Japanese. Oh shit! I just realised Brenda’s script has audio messages in it…. hmmmm I’ll need to find a Japanese voice actress as well. Damn it.

The translator says he’ll be done on Saturday night. So if everything goes to plan, we should have a Japanese version by the 4th of July.

iOS Baby

iOS is actually the dominant smartphone platform in Japan, and it’s pretty strong around the world. So we are working on an iOS version as well. Only problem is, will Apple accept our game?

Do you know the answer, golden bull?

Do you know the answer, golden bull?

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