Video game developer and publisher Beamdog has had two of its apps pulled from the Google Play Store. The Android versions of Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition have been missing from the store for two weeks, but the company hopes to get them back online soon. At the center of the issue is a new user data policy rule for publishers.
On March 21, Beamdog announced it was looking into why the games left the store. The next day, it said it would be working with Google on the matter.
A small update. Getting the games back will take some time, but it'll happen. We're working with Google.
— Beamdog (@BeamdogInc) March 22, 2019
On Wednesday, Beamdog finally gave an explanation for what was going on. Google would not green-light the two games unless they lay out how the company handles users' personal and sensitive data within the apps using clear terms and in the normal sequence of use. These data may include email addresses, first and last names, phone numbers, addresses, cookies and usage data. Beamdog is continuing work to achieve compliance with Google — we've requested further comment and will update this story if we hear any more specifics.
For the time being, those who have downloaded the games should still be able to play them. Otherwise, customers will need to wait until the problem's resolved to download the apps. They may also request a refund through Google Play support.
Games have returned to Play Store
Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition and Icewind Dale II: Enhanced Edition are back on the Play Store, just in time for Beamdog's 10th anniversary.
The company posted the key thing that awry and triggered this mess in a blog entry last week:
The short version is, what caused the issue was that we included a crash reporting tool in our games that would basically send emergency error reports to us in the event of app crashes so that we could gather telemetry and hopefully fix problems even without crash reports.
Unfortunately, that crash reporting software gathered this data using a Google Play Service called AdvertisingID, which tracks information about your phone’s hardware specs - really valuable in crash reporting, but unfortunately also subject to Google’s new policy on disclosure of data gathering, which meant we had to implement a message in-game describing basically what I just wrote above, or take it out. We did some evaluation, and decided to remove it in its entirety, so that’s all gone now.
In addition, the company has updated the Android API libraries for those games to level 26 and has finally put in 64-bit support, both key parts to keeping the games on the Play Store for a good while to come. You can link through to the respective games with the widgets down below (don't worry if the icons are grayed out if you're reading this early on).