Google Play gets it wrong (again) and bans studio because ex-employee violated rules – Tecnoblog

How would you react if you had one or more apps on your Play Store and, from one moment to the next, the Google banish them all? a studio called Raya Games went through this recently. No, the company did nothing wrong. Apparently, the cause of the problem was a failure in the mechanism that checks for violations of store policies.

Google Play Store app on Android (Image: André Fogaça/Tecnoblog)
Google Play Store app on Android (image: André Fogaça/Tecnoblog)

This and so many other Google features are automated. It makes sense, in a way. As the company’s services have millions of users, it is difficult – not to say impossible – to carry out certain checks only with employees.

The problem is that, at least in the Google Play Store, there is perhaps too much automation, so to speak. It is not uncommon for reports of developers who have difficulties approving applications (or new versions of them) on the store due to some automatic requirement, but which escapes the context of the situation.

A relatively recent example is that of a developer who had great difficulty approving an app because the store confused “free” and “free” in the translation of the English word “free” (one of the store’s rules is that the app does not be promoted as “free”).

The “death sentence”

Certainly, the case of Raya Games is more serious. The studio, which is based in the UK and is responsible for games like PerCity e Fruitcrafthad its developer accounts on behalf of TOD Studio and Raya Games itself banned from the Google Play Store in late January and early March, respectively.

Returning to the question at the beginning of the text, the reaction of Ali Nadalizadeh, owner of the company (he also had his personal account banned, but in February), was to report the problem on Reddit:

After 10 years of working with Google Play and recording over 1 million downloads in total, we received an email informing us that our company’s Play developer accounts have been permanently terminated and all games and apps have been removed. I still can’t believe we’re being destroyed in an instant without any warning.

Maybe you say “well, Google wouldn’t punish anyone like that out of the blue”. The problem is that the reasons for the ban were not clear. But Nadalizadeh paid attention to one detail: Google’s notification pointed to “previous policy violations.”

Based on this, Nadalizadeh did an investigation and found that the problem is likely related to a former employee who had his account closed by Google in December 2021 for violating several company policies.

The former employee worked for Raya Games between 2014 and 2019. Nadalizadeh reveals that, upon leaving the company, the developer no longer had access to the studio’s resources – including the Google Play Console -, except for a single game, per account. of a consultation agreement.

That game was later removed from the store, even so, access to it seems to have been enough for Google’s systems to understand that the former employee still had ties to the studio. Everything indicates that, because of this mistaken association, Raya Games accounts were banned.

Raya Games ban email from Play Store (image: Reddit/Nadalizadeh)
Raya Games ban email from Play Store (image: Reddit/Nadalizadeh)

Fortunately, Google cleared up the mess.

Ali Nadalizadeh reported the issue on Reddit to ask for help. He explains that he tried to appeal to Google, but he only received repeated, automatic responses.

It worked out. Eight hours after publishing the report, Nadalizadeh updated the text to say that Google has analyzed the case and reinstated the accounts. This quick action after the matter gained attention reinforces the thesis that the ban was applied automatically – if a human analysis had been done before, the problem would probably have already been solved.

Happy ending, anyway. Or almost, because the trauma remained and, possibly, some damage too, after all, Raya Games’ games were unavailable for several days.

In addition, a question remains: even if that employee were still in the company, would it be correct to ban all accounts because of a single person’s mistake?

At the time, the Android Police contacted Google, but the company did not comment on the matter.

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