Phoney Girlfriend – What to do

Getting banned from Google Play is a major set back, but I still feel like Phoney Girlfriend, or something like it can be a hit. There’s three approaches we could take with it.


1. Launch everywhere else aside from Google Play

In a way this is the easiest option, since we were planning to do this anyway. Create iOS, Amazon and Windows Phone versions. We’ll need to tone down the content a lot, and probably switch over to a Phoney Messenger, which is more of a story game than a chat application. I like Phoney Messenger better anyway.

The downside is we are still at the mercy of the app store Gods. There are a lot of app stores though, and surely we can’t get banned from all of them. Can we? Another thing is if we are kicked off iOS, we probably can’t continue this approach.

This strategy without Google Play seems a bit mad though.

This strategy without Google Play seems a bit mad though.

2. Create a messenger extension

Phoney Girlfriend is basically just a messenger app, why make the whole app? What if we were to create a service that hooked into an app like Telegram. Basically players would sign up on our website, and we would create a server that sends them telegram messages. It’s similar to Phoney Girlfriend, cross platform and feels a lot more real since you are actually getting Telegram, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat messages.

Downsides? Still at the mercy of someone else. We’ll need to write a bunch of server code, which is something I do not know how to do. We can’t control the experience as much as we like. One thing I can already foresee being not as nice is when we present messages to players it might come out something like this.

“Hey it’s Brenda! How are you?”

A: Great
B: Really great
C: Get lost Brenda I don’t want to hear about your snake!

Players would actually have to type the letter a, which feels a bit weird. Their message wouldn’t appear so the chat history would look weird. It’s not a super nice experience.

3. Create a Web Application

Phoney Girlfriend was designed to be a mobile application, so porting it over to a web application means we’d need to make a lot of design changes. The two hour delays aren’t really acceptable without local notifications.

It’s a big user interface, and user experience change, and would basically require completely rewriting the entire app. Hubert is a web app expert, but I don’t know anything about it so there’s a lot for me to learn.


The biggest benefit is freedom. With a web app we can do whatever we want, be as offensive as we want, as long as we don’t break the law, no one is going to stop us!

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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.


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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