Google is set to institute a new policy in the Play Store, and it has some developers up in arms. A message in the developer console (seen below) has appeared asking developers to add a physical address to their account profile. For those offering paid apps and in-app purchases, this is mandatory as of September 30th. Failing to do so could result in Mountain View pulling the apps.

KlblSrN

The notice points out that this address will be visible on the app details page for all users of the Play Store. Here's the full text.

Add a physical contact address Beginning September 30, 2014, you need to add a physical address to your Settings page. After you've added an address, it will be available on your app's detail page to all users on Google Play. If your physical address changes, make sure to update your information on your Settings page.

If you have paid apps or apps with in-app purchases, it's mandatory to provide a physical address where you can be contacted. If you don't provide a physical address on your account, it may result in your apps being removed from the Play Store.

So it will probably be treated just like the email address or website link—right there for all to see. At first blush, this doesn't sound like a big deal. However, not all developers work out of a big office, and they might not like having their home address so publicly available. Using a PO box might be a possible workaround, assuming Google accepts it.

As it currently stands, you can see a developer's street address in your Google Wallet account after buying something, but that's a long way from having it pinned on the public app page. This change would probably also make it super-easy for someone to scrape the physical addresses of app developers. The dev console also seems like a poor place to alert developers to such an important change—an email explaining the issue might be better. Presumably Google sees this as a way to improve accountability and discourage spammy paid apps. Indie developers definitely aren't cool with the lack of privacy, though.

Update: Google seems to have confirmed the public address requirement (plus something awesome) in an email to the developer of GoneMAD Music Player. Here's the full text.

Thanks for contacting Google Play Developer Support.

As of September 30, 2014, we are implementing a number of new changes to how apps are listed and displayed on Google Play, in accordance with consumer protection laws and current best-practices, ensuring a more transparent and positive experience for users. They include:

  • We are requiring developers to provide a physical address for all paid apps or apps that enable in-app purchases. The address will be displayed to users in the app store listing page. By September 30, 2014, you'll be able to add a physical address by going to your Settings page on the Developer Console (https://play.google.com/apps/publish/#ProfilePlace[1]). Please comply within 30 days of the warning notification on the developer console. If you do not provide an address within this period, Google may take action affecting your account. This may include restricting your ability to update apps or publish new apps. Continued failure to provide an address may result in published apps being removed from the store.

  • We will display the price ranges for apps that offer in-app purchases and/or subscriptions on the app's store listing page.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions and I'll be happy to help.

[Developer Console  – Thanks, Matthias]