Google Content Policy - interpretations

The Background

  1. I’m a long time developer.
  2. I’m new to the technology and process of Android App development.
  3. I’ve been developing my tentpole app for 5 months.
  4. My tentpole app is a match3 game at its core.

The Issue

  1. I would like to publish a “quickie” app before launching my tentpole app just as a sanity check against process, and for a little bit of technology validation.
  2. I found some cool Pac-Man reminiscent public domain art online, so I figured I’d put out a extremely rudimentary Match-3 game with Pac-Man theming.
  3. Namco has Pac-Man match3 games (multiple) on the market; there are also indie Pac-Man match3 games; there are also indie Pac-Man non-match3 games.

I am not concerned about copyright issues… I will state that it is an homage to Pac-Man and for nostalgia’s sake, or whatnot.
I am worried about the new repetitive content policy.

The Questions:

  1. Is another Pac-Man Match-3 game “repetitive content”?
  2. Is any generic Match-3 game “repetitive content”?
  3. If so, are all “common” games off limits now?
  4. Should I be worried about the copyright issue?

I certainly do not want to endanger my account status. It would be nice to be able to use the Pac-Man theme since I have free art for it and I suspect it will automatically drive a certain token amount of traffic.

Thanks in advance for your input.

I don’t think “Do not post repetitive content.” is about that. I think it’s about the contents of the description of your game - some people might’ve been doing so for SEO purposes - or posting several apps that do the same by one developer.

Hi madhatter,

I believe the repetitive content refers to, for example you release the following:

1 - Pac-Man Killer Match 3
2 - Killed Pac-Man Match 3
3 - Pac Killed Man Match 3

Basically if refers to the developer itself, we cant release the same game multiple times I believe. Not in relation to other developers.

I do wonder how those “talking cats” apps are out, the same developer releases the same app with different animals. I guess that difference is fine then although it is the same app.

But, why aren’t you worried about the copyright infringement? I’d really stay away from copyrighted stuff.

“I certainly do not want to endanger my account status.” ← this would be endangered if you infringe copyright.

My 0.02 eCPM!

And what about paid ad-free and ad-supported free version? Typically the title is almost identical and the same icon is used. And some developers even make a Donation version.

If we’re strict about the rules this may not be allowed but… I can’t imagine Google making this practice illegal.

I do wonder how those “talking cats” apps are out, the same developer releases the same app with different animals. I guess that difference is fine then although it is the same app.

Yeah, I wonder about this too. “Match-3 Apples,” “Match-3 Pears,” “Match-3 Pomegranates,” “Match-3 Christmas,” “Match-3 Halloween.”

I see. Thanks everyone. I’m glad I was misinterpreting the policy, and I’m really glad that I have this forum to straighten me out. Thanks David! :slight_smile:

There are a few reasons that I am not worried about copyright infringement:

  1. There are already several (>10) “Pac-Man” games on the market put out by indie-developers, and Namco has not shut them down, even though they compete with the official Namco Pac-Man games.

  2. I’m not a lawyer, but I think if I don’t use the original graphics, sound, game design, or trademarks and I make it clear that I am not associated with Namco I think I will be okay. (The game will use the “Pac-” but not “Pac-Man”)

I am not qualified to judge if my game would constitute Fair Use, but mostly based on (1, above) I think I’ll be okay.

I definitely welcome people’s estimations on this issue as well.

Since the Free/Lite/Pro paradigm is so prevalent in the market, I don’t expect any prosecution against its use.

Hi madhatter,

I actually had a game removed because it had the name “Pong” in it. That was copyrighted to atari. But I am still surprised that many other games have the name “pong” are still in the market.

What I did notice was that all these other games have the word “pong” not as the first word in their game. Maybe that is fine.

Just sharing experience and what I understand here. Maybe using “Pac-” might be not be right, I really dont know.

Whatever you choose, wish you all the best!

PS - “Ping Pong” is a trademark too!! Use Table Tennis if you have to make a ping pong game :stuck_out_tongue:

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that happened, that seems really … shoot, it sounds downright ridiculous.

Do you happen to know if it was Atari that filed a complaint or if it was just Google?

Did you get the standard ‘You have violated Google Play policy’ notice or did you get something special/more specific? I wonder if that would count against you in terms of accumulating ‘multiple previous violations’.

I don’t suppose it matters, but was this recent?

Thanks for the info.

I got 2 emails. One was the generic violation of policy thing, the 2nd one had an attachment with the complain filed in by atari (actually was interesting getting a mail with something from such a big publisher! LOL)

So, that’s how I know what I violated. It would be really good for google to give out details like that as it would help developers improve overall, a win-win for both google, the developers and the copyright owners too.

And yes, it counts against “multiple previous violations”, was mentioned in their mail.

This happened sometime late last year.

Do note that your admob account can also be suspended when they suspend your google play account.

I hope you understand why I am trying to highlight this issue. It is not nice seeing another fellow developer get into trouble for stuff like these. We are after all small timers here, and stuff like these we either only learn the hard way, or when someone shares their experiences :smiley:


I certainly thank you calling this to my attention and for sharing the details. It sounds like Atari rigorously defends its copyrights, and other publishers may do the same, either now or at any point in the future.

I’ll continue looking for alternatives that will accomplish the same goals.
rofl… I just got served an ad for a Pac-Man game (possibly a knock off) at the top of this forum page.

For now I have decided to just post my apk here hoping to get some quick looks at it.

Thread here.

Thanks to anyone who gets a chance to take a look. And enjoy. =)

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