Google just terminated our start up’s Play console account!

Siva Agarwal
Sep 30 · 6 min read

An introduction

I started developing android apps as my hobby 6 years ago.I really love Android as it has given me so many things in life -

  • A Path to go on
  • A Career to work on as i didn’t had to depend on others for JOB
  • Financial support that everyone needs to survive
  • Following my passion.

My Play Console account name was Techmurf and some of my famous applications in Google Play Store included-

  • WX Launcher-Windows 10 styled 2019 Launcher with over 700K+ installs.
  • UbX Launcher- Ubuntu styled launcher with over 100K+ installs.
  • SVideo Downloader for Instagram with over 50K+ installs.

I was the sole developer, marketer, strategist for my start up. Recently i hired 2 developers to join me.

The account had apps with over 800K+ downloads, 220K+ MAU, 20K+ DAU, 4K+ reviews.


The Story

It was September 21st 2019, as usual i woke in the morning with the first thing to do is check the stats of my applications. I checked the website, their was something very unusual , all my top apps seems to have been downloaded only 10–15 times from morning, whereas it should be at least 1–2K .

I wondered, what was wrong and suddenly i saw a notification, an email notification to my startup’s G Mail account. I swiped my notifications.

The subject was Multiple strikes. My heart started pumping very fast as i knew something was surely wrong now, I opened the email and Gosh! all my dreams shattered with just 1 email, all the hard work i have been doing from the last 6 years, turned to ashes in that very second. My Google Play console account which i used to publish my android apps was terminated due to multiple strikes. All my 6 year works which had over 700K+ downloads,220K+ MAU, 20K+ DAU, 3K+ reviews all gone in a second. All i can do now is cry on the situation because the email stated -

Notification from Google Play
This is a notification that your Google Play Publisher account has been terminated.

REASON FOR TERMINATION: Multiple violations of the Developer Program Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement as outlined in previous emails sent to the registered email address of your Publisher account.

Google Play Publisher terminations are associated with developers, and may span multiple account registrations and related Google services.

You can visit the Developer Policy Center to better understand how we enforce Developer Program Policies. If you’ve reviewed the policy and feel this termination may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team.

Please do not attempt to register a new developer account. We will not be restoring your account at this time.

The Google Play Team

Without wasting any more time, i started checking my email and now whats that? I saw two policy violations emails on two of my similar apps for breaking the same policy according to them.

On carefully understanding and off course Googling ,i came to know that actually two of my apps were flagged as spam.

Now the fun part starts, both of the applications were Image and video downloader application from Instagram and TikTok which obviously downloaded the media requested by the user (of the app). Those applications had a minimum functionality, neither the app used any notification system so no spamming via notifications, but still it got flagged as Spam because —

The Google Bots reviewed my application, and they don’t know what TikTok is or what Instagram is .So they thought my application does nothing,as the first screen in both of my applications shows an EditText for users to enter the URL of the media to be downloaded. Now since the bots were reviewing my apps, they cant paste any URL to download any media because they are not human to understand this and flagged them as spam.

To this, i appealed to Google,which obviously every android developer in this situation knows how painful it is. The reply comes after 48 hours.

Hi developers at Techmurf,

Thanks for contacting the Google Play Team.

After reviewing your appeal, we have confirmed our initial decision and will not be able to reinstate your developer account.

Your Google Play Developer account has been terminated due to multiple policy violations.

Note that Google Play Developer account 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 new accounts will be closed and your developer registration fee will not be refunded. We recommend that you use an alternative method for distributing your apps in the future.

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,
Emma
The Google Play Team

Alas! The launchers i made, my 700K+ users all are gone now and theirs no possible way i can communicate with them ever.

This just really killed me inside. My users wont ever know what happen to the well established launcher (WX Launcher-Windows 10 styled 2019 Launcher) , whether the application discontinued or if the developer was a scam :(

The reason i am writing this is to let every single developer out reading this know that you are not safe from Google.

  • Firstly they charge you with more than 25% from your earnings.
  • Secondly they can terminate your account anytime if they think they should.
  • Thirdly no human support for developers like us but only automatic bots which sents you standard templates,nothing more . Yet they ask you in the email that if you have anything to ask,please ask us!
  • Fourthly, since my account had other applications whose reputations were very good. They could have asked us to rectify the mistakes but they chose not to instead end a 6 year old android application developer dream of a boy.
  • Fifthly, i was dependent on the earning from my application for my livelihood since i never was a 9–7 kinda guy. So everything is shattered now, no way of earning, no experience in job (as needed by Industries/Companies) .
  • Sixthly, their’s no way you can contact Google for these kinda problems because auto bots again.

I tried appealing for my suspended applications, terminated account but all in vain. The same reply all over again and again. I will still now stop appealing for my apps which were banned and for the terminated account.

I still am trying to contact Google support team just to let them review my account by a human once, because my account was in good standing and i know my applications didn’t commit any violations. I had one previous policy violation which i got a year ago and i unpublished the app that very moment.

No more violations during these period, but together 2 wrongly flagged policy violations made the count to 3 and boom! Account terminated.

The worst part about this is that i received ZERO previous emails about any violations. Two wrongly flagged policy violations together and gone, no time to rectify or anything.


Final word

I am now spending time, figuring out where to upload my applications, as majority of my apps used to get weekly updates.

My honest users will surely miss me,miss the updates and complain me by emailing of not getting the application in the Google Play store and the future updates which i promised them and to which i would have no reason.

I finally and very desperately ask the community to support me with like/repost/share in order to draw the attention of the Google Play team to difficult situation not only with me, but also with many other developers.

A company like Google must be closer to those who is developing content ,trying to implement new ideas for Android users and who is actually generating profits for Google.

At least, developers should be able to have a real human communication with the support team, rather than receive standard template responses from the bots.

Lastly if anybody would like to help me or have any advise for me, please feel free to drop here.


Updates:

  • I shared this story on Twitter on September 30th and on October 1st, I got a response from Official Google Play Apps & Games @GooglePlayDev -.

Thanks for your time.

Siva Agarwal,CEO Techmurf

Siva Agarwal

Written by

Android developer by hobby,passion. Published 25+ applications on Google Play totaling over 1M+ installs, 300+ MAU,25K+ DAU and over 5K of positive feedbacks.

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