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GP Rant (Awnite saga)

tl;dr; Google Play refuses to post my Awnite app update despite allowing other Fortnite fan-art apps.

Please forgive me for ranting. If you do a search for Fortnite in the Google Play Store you will see 50+ apps, none of which are my Awnite STW Helper. The first result, as one would expect, used to be the actual game from Epic. The rest of them are “free” as in supported by in-app advertising or tracking of some sort. Many of them explicitly use the word “Fortnite” in their title. A couple are rip-off games. Many have millions of installs. Good for them. I am suitably jealous.

But my latest update (which Apple approved) was rejected by Google on July 30:

App status: Rejected

What policy did I violate? They did not say other than “one or more”. My update added a few more mission types and support for Ventures. If this version was in violation, then so was the previous version. That makes no sense.

So I filed an appeal, asking why, and waited for a reply which came the next day.

assets prone to abuse, their highlighting

So Fortnite is popular. Really popular. Just because it is a “high risk profile” doesn’t mean that it violates anything. The other 50+ apps have millions of installs with direct copies of Fortnite content, some of which had been updated in the past 4 days. So, I looked at the disclaimers those apps used, added one to mine and resubmitted. Nope. This time they outlined a particular part:

make modifications to the app’s store listing, their highlight

But I just did make modifications. And the “confusion” part is frankly bogus. This isn’t a game. The icon doesn’t resemble the game icon. One of the other apps in fact copied the Fortnite icon and just added a text bar at the bottom.

So, these can’t be mistaken for unlicensed use? Right….

So I added more disclaimers and pointed out the discrepancy:

Unofficial, non affiliation

They didn’t like that.

Snitch on other apps for us, their highlighting

Note:

  • No help on how to make the description “clear”.
  • Do you seriously think Epic’s legal department is going to talk to me?
  • I did make modifications to the app’s store listing to avoid confusion
  • And why are the policies being inconsistently enforced? You want me to snitch on other devs? Not cool.

This goes back and forth several more times as I try to find the secret sauce to a app description that complies with their policy. I have now made the app free (not even ad-supported) and added links to Epic’s Fan-Art Policy.

Epic fan art policy

Surely that would be enough. Nope.

Another changed goalpost, their highlighting

Wait, first it was the descriptions, now it is the images. Sure, I use the mission and rewards icons in my app. Otherwise it would be useless. I even contacted Epic Games Support and they said it fit the fan art policy, with one reviewer stating:

Epic is cool with it

So, they cannot give me anything other than the Fan-Art policy. Will Google accept that?

They don’t allow apps other than the ones they allow…, their highlighting

Nada. Sending Google direct links to Epic Game’s website showing the Fan-Art policy does not constitute “proof of use“. So I asked what is “proof of use“.

Where does “planned implementation” come from? It’s not a planed implementation. It’s the current implementation in addition to the new changes. <sarcasm>I know the rest of the Fortnite apps got a pdf from Epic</sarcasm>. Things don’t help that Epic Games Support uses a funky address that looks like spam:

Who wants to bet that the other apps got Epic legal to send out pdfs… Apps like this one:

This app (with over 1M installs) was updated August 17, 2020, apparently not in violation of Google Play Policies. It even has the game soundtracks in it.

I changed the app logo so it looks less like Epic’s logo. Nope. Denied again.

So, I am seriously ticked off at Google Play for inconsistently applying their policies. Let Epic sue me if I am violating their policy. I still think Android phones are superior, but stop targeting the little guy, Google.

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