Google's App Crackdown Results In Indie Developer Smackdown
from the threatening-innocent-bystanders dept
Wired tells the story of the Cory and Andrew Trese, two brothers who are the very epitome of indie developers, and how they have found themselves under attack by Google as a result of this crackdown. Let's be clear in saying that these guys are not pirates, they're not some mega-corporation, and they don't have time to fend off unnecessary attacks resulting from an overreaction to a non-problem:
"The Trese brothers are so indie, they don't even know it. Their games are marketed through a simple Blogspot blog and unpretentious older brother Cory Trese routes all of his regular email correspondence through the address of his wedding photography business. Trese Brothers titles like Star Traders and Templar Assault might not feature cutting-edge graphics or revolutionary gameplay, but the ambitious scope of their games and steadfast dedication to constantly improving them has won them a small but loyal following. With a growing reputation for floating above the needs and desires of everyday people, Google's relationship with salt-of-the-earth devs like the the Trese Brothers are exactly the sort they ought to be cultivating. Instead, Google is about to chase the Treses off of their platform."
These are the good guys. The small-business types working overtime everyone likes to talk about. But when Google recently brought their app store under more strict control, allowing them to be more heavy-handed in what they allow on the platform, the Trese brothers began getting messages saying that they were somehow in violation and their apps would be dropped from the store.
"Cory Trese started receiving seemingly-automated emails from Google last week, informing him that he and his brother's games were violating the spam provisions of the new developer terms and conditions. Trese was dumbstruck.
"I was terrified, frankly," Trese told me. "I started trying to figure out how we got flagged. Maybe we update too often.""
It should be pointed out that the notion that frequent updates triggered the spam notice from Google is pure speculation...because as Google is now tasked with aggressively policing their app store, they're finding less time to respond to app developers questions via email or the support message board. The Trese brothers have been trying to get a response to no avail as of the time of this writing.
And this is the problem with a shotgun approach in responding to perceived issues with piracy on platforms: you end up taking out innocent bystanders in the process. We saw it with Megaupload, where artists and users used the service legitimately but were caught in the DOJ's ocean-spanning shotgun attack. We see it every time bit torrent technology is attacked, despite artists and users that also use it legitimately. Actions taken against perceived piracy problems need a scalpel approach, so that innocents like the Trese brothers don't have their creative output stifled.
Update: Commentors and Cory Trese himself stepped into the comments section to add some further clarification. It appears that the issue had to do with keywords in the description of Trese's games that still coincide with Google's tightening the ropes on their app store (thanks for the comments, guys!). Bottom line, it would appear that there is still some heavy-handedness and a lack of communication with app developers in this case, though Cory did say that Google reached out to them once news of this had got out.