For those that didn't hear, Downwell was removed from the Play Store by Google in June over a technical issue with the game. It would appear that this issue could not be fixed, and so a new version had to be created. This new version arrived on the Play Store yesterday after a brief stint in early-access last week. Since there are many people out there that had already paid for the delisted version of Downwell that would also have to repay to gain access to the new listing, Devolver Digital is going to offer the game for free for seven days starting on September 20th.
First off, I find it very troubling that the dev for Downwell had to find out from fans that his game was removed from the Play Store in June. I also find it very troubling that Google freely removes its customers' purchases without notice or recourse while rarely expediently notifying developers of these removals. This is a growing trend, and I know I've personally lost access to many games I rightly paid for. Not only does this make me question every purchase I make on Google's storefronts, it shows that Google can not be trusted with our purchases, one of the many reasons I question Google's commitment to Stadia.
In this specific case, it would seem there was an issue with the original version of Downwell that caused it to be flagged by Google's system, and so it was removed, thus screwing over every paying customer as well as the developer and publisher. Of course, some of the blame could be laid on the dev for not keeping the game up to date with Google's growing list of policies, but when you consider that this is a three-year-old game, it may have very well been developed without the offending policy in mind if it didn't even exist at the time. This is a problem for many devs, big and small, to the point that many feel like indentured servants that have to continually update their apps, even if they are unpublished.
While it's nice to see the return of Downwell on the Play Store, the fact that it exists as a new listing means that everyone would have to pay for it all over again, which is clearly an issue. Some have mentioned that returns on these purchases could be a better way to handle the situation, though what isn't mentioned is that there are fees attached to returns, which is probably why Devolver Digital has chosen to offer the game for free for seven days so that anyone who had previously purchased the title can pick it up at no cost. This also means everyone else will be able to grab the game for free during this time, which is a bold move that shows the publisher's and developer's commitment to their customers.
While I would prefer to see Google help when issues like these arise, it would seem the company couldn't care less, and so Devolver Digital and the developer have gone above and beyond to appease their fans, a very rare occurrence in the mobile gaming world. So if you were one of the people that lost access to your previous purchase, all you have to do is wait one more day to grab the new version for free. Devolver is also offering refunds for those that re-purchased the game since its reappearance, so make sure to reach out to [email protected] with your Order ID if you'd like your money back so that you can grab the game for free tomorrow.
All in all, it would seem Devolver and the developer are doing the best they can in a difficult situation, which is really all we can ask. And hey, Downwell will be free for seven days starting tomorrow, so I definitely know what I'll be playing this weekend.
- Steve Hopper Jr.