It was just five days ago that Hazard Rush was released to the Play Store. The developer took to Reddit to make the announcement and offer some freebies. Well, the community was into Hazard Rush, which (according to the app description) is a little like Snake and Geometry Wars. It's the next part of the description that got Hazard Rush banned from Google Play. The developer made a cheeky SEO joke, and that was enough for it to get swept up in Google's Play Store purge.

The description read:

Sit on the edge of your bus, train, subway, office or toilet seat as you evade enemies, trigger bombs, and collect multipliers in pursuit of your high scores. Hazard Rush is half Snake, half Geometry Wars, and half Temple Run (maybe that last one is just SEO). (Emphasis added by AP)

It appears that Google has been making large-scale sweeps of the Play Store in recent weeks, and is removing apps it feels are abusing the anti-spam policies. The developer of Hazard Rush got the cold, impersonal form email informing him his app was being banned yesterday. An appeal was rejected by Google earlier today, so Hazard Rush is permanently out of Google Play. The dev says he's going to make some changes and eventually try to resubmit to Google Play (presumably under a different developer account). In the meantime, you can download Hazard Rush here.

hazardrush4 hazardrush6

It seems silly to remove an app that, by all accounts, was not of poor quality over a little joke. This just goes to show you how serious Google has gotten about preventing keyword stuffing in app descriptions. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. We all like to see more accurate search in the Play Store. It's just a bummer this developer got caught up in a technicality.

Update: The developer has resubmitted the game to Google Play with a new package name. Anyone who downloaded the game previously will have to uninstall that one for clarity. On Reddit he promises to be good this time with regard to Google's terms. The dev has still included a way to unlock the full version without paying, which is pretty nice of him. Just check out the announcement for the details.

[Reddit 1, Reddit 2, Surreal Street, TechCrunch]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • weilshiet

    Not american, what's a SEO?

    • TheFirstUniverseKing

      I'm American and I don't even know what SEO is.

    • sahilm

      Search engine optimization.

      Basically, the joke was to mention temple run so that his app comes up when temple run is searched.

    • Sean Stone

      Search Engine Optimization

    • http://twitter.com/yibrushn yibrushn

      Search Engine Optimization?

    • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

      It's not related to Americans :) It started as a web development term though, so it's not unusual that you haven't heard it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

        technically since it came from americans yes it is

        • impulse101


  • sahilm

    I don't really have a problem with this being swept up in the initial purge.

    My problem is that the appeal was denied.

    What kind of appeal process was there which this did not pass?

    • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

      An automated one. If your appeal doesn't pass the turing test, you're still out.

      • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

        First, how did he get 'appeal rejected' reply in one day...!!!!?? I got my reply after 3 month....!!

        And, what's Turing test?

        • Joshua Percell
          • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

            I had done that already. I asked 'coz I was wondering whether play store has that 'first you have to pass turing test' documented somewhere.

        • didibus

          "The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of an actual human" - wikipedia

          How did you not find that? Anyways, he just meant it's probably a program that appeals and re-evaluates your app automatically. No human involved.

          • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

            I did find it. My question was more inclined towards Google play store. Like - what's "Google Turing Test"; i.e. does play store have a policy like that?

    • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

      Well the original decision SHOULD stick because the description DOES negatively (for the user) impact searches. All they need to do is change the description.

      • Vandré Brunazo

        It would be unfair to legit devs if it the decision had been reversed on appeal. The damage had already been done, the app had already stole users from legit developers. How would you feel if you were one of those fair devs knowing that blackhats can get away by just saying "awww, but I'm sowwy!"

        • ericl5112

          As a "legit Dev", I'm more concerned that an app is permabanned for a joke than such a tiny effect that one app name mention would have.

          • Ian Douglas

            Joke or not, it impacts search results. Google was right to ban the game, but they SHOULD have allowed it back with a stipulation that the description get changed.

          • ericl5112

            I completely agree. That's why I said I was concerned that it was permanently banned and lost an appeal (to presumably remove said joke).

            I have no problem permabanning apps that have a paragraph at the bottom with nothing but popular app names. It's that fact that a dumb joke got an app banned with zero recourse.

  • nsnsmj

    I had no idea what SEO even meant until now.

    Learn something new every day.

  • Randy

    First paragraph should be SEO not SOE. And I agree possibly a description as to what SEO is would be helpful.

  • Ben

    For their defense, I find it EXTREMELY annoying all these apps playing with SEO to show up in results. In impacts the quality of search, and it's what Google does the best. This is to me a legitimate reason for deleting ( especially since it's gonna be solved with a couple emails and them doing a more appropriate description ). Time to educate the companies and not only the users.

    • Ben

      Didn't read about the appeal rejection, well that's just shitty.

  • Bren

    It's not necessarily a bad thing that they seriously search and organize the play store.
    But they should make communication between app and developper a bit better.*

  • lmgtfy

    SEO=Search Engine Optimization, essentially trying to use key words to make your page (or in this case app) seen more. For those who didn't know.

  • Melvin

    "It's just a bummer this developer got caught up in a technicality"
    It's not really a technicality. The developer was abusing the system. It's just that the developer didn't expect to be punished.

    • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

      I completely agree, even though it was a joke, it still affects the search.

      • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

        There are thousands of apps on the Play store which are doing this, yet I don't see any of the "Mindcraft" and other shit removed.

        • http://profiles.google.com/mahnacheeto carolyn zanella

          How do you know they arnt removing a lot of those? They just removed 60000 apps for various reasons. Those "mindcraft" apps arnt popular enough for you to notice...

          • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

            I have to scroll past all that shit to get to the actual apps. It sits at the top of the app lists, because they're LITERALLY ONLY THERE DUE TO SEO BULLSHIT.

    • shadowdude777

      So they should have made him take out the offending joke.This seems a little draconian.

  • hldc1

    I have no sympathy for this developer.

    Making a joke is one thing, but pointing out the joke after you've made the joke no longer makes the joke funny. It's obvious (and especially more obvious if you point it out) you're trying to jump on another app's bandwagon when you blatantly state "maybe that last one is just SEO."

    • navjot

      Depends on the joke. In this case, that last part is what makes it a joke.

    • Mehmet Fatih YILDIRIM

      If he didnt pointed out the joke like that in parantheses, nobody would understand the joke, and most of the people would think he/she is just using the word Temple Run for search advantages over other apps, He wrote like that so we can say its a joke and not something for search advantages (or lets say SEO)

    • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

      There are dozens of games on the Play store that have "Temple Run" in the description that have *LITERALLY NOTHING WHATSOEVER* to do with it. Yet they choose to ban a game over a joke? Why not work on banning the people who are *ACTUALLY GAMING THE FUCKING SYSTEM*?

  • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

    I'm guessing the developer must've appealed saying he will remove the SEO thingy. They still rejected his appeal to revoke the suspension?

    Was this a free app? Now imagine if this happens to a paid app. Just because of a small mistake or mischief, a paid app goes down. Google doesn't accept appeal to correct the mistake and all the users who had bought the app are out of luck and feel robbed. I am stunned that this developer got his 'appeal rejected' mail in one day. I got my rejection mail in 3 months. Google developer support sucks.

    • TylerChappell

      Or maybe developers just shouldn't be stupid and try to trick the system? If that happened, customers shouldn't be mad at Google, but at the developer for not taking their work seriously enough.

      • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

        How about developer (specially a first time independent developer) not understanding / knowing the description he is giving conflicts with the policies? (Not talking about this hazard rush case). And don't tell me 'read the policies'. Yes, everyone reads the policies, but not word by word. Everyone just skims through the looooong policies page. A little better than clicking "I accept" while installing software on PC. All I'm saying is - Google should be a little bit lenient towards first mistakes and allow the developer to correct the mistakes. If he/she is a repeat offender, by all means suspend his/her app without letting them correct it.

        • TylerChappell

          It's still the developer's own fault for not reading the policies and adhering to them. I am sure an indie developer is just as capable of reading as a seasoned one, so it's still really no excuse. And since he blatantly says that saying Temple Run in the description was really just for the SEO, it is very clear he understands the policy, sooo, no, no sympathy for him. Nice try though.
          But what you said is like saying that a 15yr old with a driver's permit who is speeding at 90mph and gets pulled over, should only get a warning instead of a ticket just because it's his first time and he hasn't been driving long. Sorry, but that's not how it works.

          • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

            A new independent developer won't have a legal team to pour through pages after pages of policies and understand them entirely; which other seasoned developers and companies will have. Hence, no. not everyone knows every policy from the start.

            Yes, I'm also saying that this "hazard rush" knew he was using SEO optimization from the beginning. That's why I mentioned - "(Not talking about this hazard rush case)" in my last comment.

            Equating app publishing with driving on highway doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Driving recklessly (DUI or idiotically) can kill others; violating some policy in app upload is not going to kill somebody. Google can certainly warn a new developer once - "what you are doing is wrong. please correct this and this". A better comparison would be - the new "three strike" rule that ISPs are planning to implement. They are giving 3 chances to the user - for restraining from illegal download. ILLEGAL download..!! Why can't google give one warning for something that isn't illegal?

  • Jaymoon

    Half Snake and half Geometry Wars? Try 100% copy of PewPew.

    ...and not a very good one at that.

    • oktnxbai

      Yup, PewPew clone 150% sure.

      • vitriolix

        Guys both this and pew pew are Geometry Wars clones, at least he admits his influences

  • umataro42

    It seems like the reason for removing their app was legit, just because they admitted to SEO doesn't make it any less a violation of their policy. Also, thanks to this article, I learned what SEO means.

    • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

      You're right. Except for the fact that Google allows thousands on top of thousands of apps to do EXACTLY THIS, without ever removing them.

  • QwietStorm

    Why don't they do the same thing for all the blatant tag abuse on YouTube?

    • http://www.facebook.com/YallaYalla Yalla Tschikowski

      because no one can watch every video and check if it's really abuse (ofc, most of the time its obvious, but how can you know a video doesnt cover this topic for atleast some seconds?)

  • navjot

    Ha go read the description for Google Maps. Maybe Google should start by removing their own apps.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      There is a huge difference between a few relevant tags and ones completely unrelated.

  • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

    Why don't they ban any of the COMPLETE SHIT that is COVERING the Play store? All of the shitty "Mindcraft" and "PS2 Emulator" nonsense which is intended to scam idiots? All of the "Undress Teen" shit that shows up? The tonnes of "Top New Free" titles that are plainly a fuckton of fake reviews, which push legitimate downloads to the 100s or 200s?

    • DeadSOL

      And the massive amount of porn that does not go away despite lower maturity ratings. Porn needs its own category, damnit.

    • http://www.twitter.com/Genjinaro Genjinaro

      Seriously, that crap should get purged hourly.

    • Matthew Fry

      I think Google should permaban apps that give you IAP currency for a 5 star review.

  • Android Sow

    Journalism 101: Define your terms. WTF is SEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

      1) Regular visitors of this website are tech guys who know what that means
      2) You can google it in less than 3 seconds
      3) It is search engine optimization

      • rap

        Not all regular visitor are "guys" or know what the term means. I had to look it up. No biggy but it would have been nice to have it defined. But it's APs site and they can do what they want. Thanks AP for everything.

        • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

          Speaking about guys, I believe this word can be used to describe a group of people, both men and women.

      • ergu

        It's incredibly lazy to not spell out the term at least once. I'll repeat from the beginning of Sow's post: Journalism 101. That's what this is about. It's not about whether or not what he wrote was barely good enough to be understood by most of the people who would read it, it's about the fact that if you're supposed to be a journalist, you're in the business of communicating ideas. If you fail at that, you're doing something wrong.

  • mldi

    If the joke didn't include trademarked names of other apps used without permission, it would've probably been OK. I'm a bit surprised the appeal didn't go through, though. What was the developer's appeal and why wasn't it granted?

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_BG Dave Bg

    Great game, i am downloading it now!

  • http://profiles.google.com/mformarcee Marcell Lévai

    Kicking a game for that little SEO? I have to laugh. I'm sorry but please, everyone, type in "launcher" to the searchbar. What are your results? Mine are: ugly go launcher theme, even more ugly go launcher theme, theme for go launcher, go launcher etc, etc, this goes on and on for kilometers of scrolling. I was just looking for a launcher. What did I get? All that bullsh*t, which, in my opinion, should be cleared from the playstore forever and moved to somewhere else, like an own store for go launcher or something. This is just ridiculous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/YallaYalla Yalla Tschikowski

    Removing it from the Play Store until a new description is submitted and approved is ok.

    If i want to search for Temple Run, i want to find Temple Run related things.

    Banning a first time offender for this is not ok. You're just crippling your Play Store for punishing a error on the developers part that can be easily solved.

  • Samvith V Rao

    Looks like a rip off of Pew-Pew

  • Qliphah

    Could be he was referencing other copyrighted games without express permission?
    Perhaps Disney sent a S&D when Temple Run popped up on their lawyers google alerts. As for SEO that is a touchy thing, devs shouldn't be allowed to mention other games/apps themselves but allow users to tag it however they like.

  • impulse101

    It wasn't a joke it was a weak way to get this game moved up the search list.

  • Dan

    They broke the rules and got punished. They deserved it. If I'm driving 90 in a 55 zone, I can't expect to get away with telling the cop, "I was just kidding".

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Right okay i'm going to Google Play to remove some keywords from my apps lol

  • Steve Green

    That was not a joke.
    That was SEO, and google should make him change it.

  • Mr SEO

    This happened to me too. All I needed to do was to remove references to other apps.

    And if this removes all spam apps and clones, its all fine with me!!

  • Floss

    I want to know how this guy got a reply so fast. I got a app banned for a ridiculous reason, and got it appealed...2 months later. No reply or indication that they were ever going to reply in the mean time.

  • GraveUypo

    damn updates. i thought google had banned the re-submit until i got to the end of the article :|