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.
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!
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.
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.
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.