24 September 2014

Bad News For Android Developers (First Rant)

I really hoped my first rant on here wouldn't have been only on my third post but sadly that has happened as I have just found something quite alarming regarding app submission to Google Play while scrolling through Gamasutra today. Developers will be required to submit their home address (yes their physical address) to Google in order to develop apps and release them on Google Play and anyone who doesn't runs the risk of getting their app removed.

Doesn't sound so bad right? Surely only Google will know your details and no one else right? Wrong. Your address will be made public on every app you submit, effectively allowing everyone to see where you live.

Yes you read that correctly and I am quite frankly disgusted by this shocking decision Google has made, not to mention incredibly shocked. I am well aware that Google are known for data mining a lot, but this is just taking things to the extreme. I could respect this if their home details were at least made private but no, they will be public and these changes will go into effect on 30th September this year.

So, anyone who has read the Project Plasma page will see that an Android app has been confirmed for the game. I can tell you now that I certainly will not be distributing any games via the Play Store if this goes into effect, I sure as fuck do not want everyone knowing where I live thank you very much. If I do distribute any Android apps they will be distributed via Itch, the site that is hosting the PC version of my game which also allows for Android app uploads as well. I feel that Itch will become much more appealing to indie Android developers than the official Play Store should this drastic change go into effect.

After reading through the comments on the Gamasutra article, I noticed one popular theory is that they are doing to prevent virus-makers from uploading malicious apps to the Play Store. Hopefully by de-anonymising them, they won't upload any dodgy apps. However, this hasn't been thought through, especially with malicious trends such as "swatting" going on. (If you don't know what swatting is, watch this video on it by MinnesotaBurns below which explains what it is. It is a horrifying and extremely stressful experience.)

I'm sorry, but the last thing I want is some little kid, or some guy who doesn't like my stuff send a SWAT team down to my house or do other incredibly malicious things that can affect both me and my family in real life simply because they didn't like my game or because of something I said. There sadly are people who are callous enough to do such a thing and I feel that making addresses public is a poor move by Google, and that's putting it very bluntly.

If I decide to make any apps for iOS or Windows Phone, they will be uploaded to their respective app stores as per usual as I don't think Apple or Microsoft are going to such lengths to prevent malicious apps (and hopefully they never will.) This only affects Android apps via Google Play. Once again, I would like to express my severe disdain towards this unfortunate decision Google has made. If this is a way to dissuade virus-makers from uploading to Google Play, it really hasn't been thought through properly and I seriously hope they reconsider this move.

I don't mind submitting my details to Google, but I sure as hell don't want to make that shit public.

Original Gamasutra article:

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