Top-rated puzzle game Threes was recently pulled from the Google Play Store because it listed “2048” as a keyword.
The chances are, unless you’re an avid gamer, you’re probably more likely to have heard of 2048 than Threes. The former is a blatant copy of the latter (or rather, a copy of a copy), yet it’s the free 2048 that has been downloaded tens of millions of times.
As 2048 doesn’t emulate the Threes art style or name, it’s allowed to continue to exist – there’s no patent on the core mechanics or idea of the game.
Threes developer Ash Vollmer already had grounds to be pretty fed up with 2048, then. When his slick game was pulled from the Google Play Store recently for listing 2048 as a related search term, it simply added insult to injury.
“Google Play has taken Threes off the store because we used “2048” as a search keyword,” the developer tweeted, along with an angry face emoji for good measure.
Google has since reinstated Threes on the Play Store after several hours (and a bunch of negative press).
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Vollmer explained why this happened to his original app – and why he much prefers Apple’s way of doing things. While you can get your app on the Play Store pretty quickly, “Google has bots that crawl over their store and look for instances of ‘keyword stuffing’ and then automatically take down the app,” he said.
To get on the App Store, meanwhile, you have to go through a lengthy approval procedure, but at least then your app is in.