The Google marketplace is flooded with over a million applications.
The prices of these apps range from free to over £100 – with the latter clearly being for people who have money to burn. (If that’s you, click here!)
The quality of these apps differs almost as much as the price range, though one thing remains certain – there’s a shit tonne of ’em.
With this in mind & Spacebat having been available on the Google Play Store for over 7 months, we decided it was time to do something marvelous – release it for free.
That’s right! Woah, calm yourselves! Chill! STOP JUMPING ON THINGS!
I know it’s exciting, but please, let’s keep it civil here people.
What’s different? Well, in Spacebat Free you get the full game, no restrictions, with a single banner ad displaying on the screen when you die.
This free version of Spacebat would replace the already existing ‘Spacebat Demo’, which only featured 1 level.
Don’t like the banner ad? Well, as before you’d still be able to purchase Spacebat for just 69p.
Great idea, right? You get the full game at no cost, with a discreet ad displaying every so often (none of those interstitial ads, don’t worry) – in return we’re still able to generate some (albeit small) revenue from downloads and plays. Win win!
So that’s what we did!
We released Spacebat Free back at the start of May. Within a week we had over 1000 downloads – more than Spacebat had accumulated in 6 months. Good times, we were happy, you were happy, Spacebat was happy (when he wasn’t exploding against walls, disc blades, snakes, lasers or cannons that is..).
Then it happened.
One morning we awoke to find an email from Google sitting in our inbox.
It was an automated email, politely letting us know that our account had been permanently disabled due to suspicious activity.
Okay, that’s interesting – what kind of ‘suspicious activity’ could they mean?
So, after looking into this it seems there could be a couple of reasons why Google believed us to be faking our own ad clicks.
The Chinese Pay-for-Clicks Method
Firstly, we saw a massive increase in the number of users compared to the previous six months. This is mainly due to the Opera Store release, which at the time of writing has over 800 downloads. Simply looking up their demographic shows that their main user base is in China. I’m sure anyone looking at stats showing massive increases in downloads from China would be suspicious, as you commonly see ‘click farming’ originating from Asia (so we’re told!).
Okay, so overall we don’t have a massive userbase (yet!) – we found that the majority of our initial downloads were from family and friends, all of whom live in this local area. We’ve read that Google systems look for clicks from similar IP ranges as a potential sign of ‘fake clicks’ being triggered by the developers. Are we supposed to prevent family and friends clicking the ads in-game?
It’s worth pointing out that we don’t actually know what caused our account to be blocked. Either way, I of course appealed this decision with an explanation of the above – asking to speak to a member of the team to get this issue sorted ASAP.
The appeal was automatically denied.
That’s it, no explanation – just a plain ‘nope’ from a robot email address.
To rub salt in these fresh wounds, their reply even stated ‘we may not reply to any future emails’..Great…
So, I’ve been in the process of trying to get hold of someone at Google now for over a month. I’ve tried asking nicely, raising a complaint, asking to speak to some form of management, but alas no joy – not even a reply. Personally, I feel this has been handled pretty poorly by Google. I’m yet to receive a single human response. But with the income we were actually generating, I guess it’s more than likely just not worth them even taking the time to look in to.
Okay guys, your plan to release a free ‘ad-ware version’ failed, you’ll just have to go back to how it was before – right? Well, sure – apart from the fact that when Google disabled our account, it removed the ads displaying on Spacebat Free. That effectively means that those 1,500 people who have downloaded the free version of our game now have the FULL game at no cost, with no ads.
“Just pretend there are adverts”
That’s Jess’ solution and by jove, that’s what we’re going to do.
That’s right everyone, if you download the free version just pretend you see some adverts appear when you die, then pretend to click the ad and we’ll pretend to receive 2p! Everybody wins.
Alternatively, if you want to remove these pretend ads (or just show your support to the guys who made the game) – as always you can download the full game for 69p.