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Andrew Spinks is the primary developer behind the hit indie survival game Terraria. He's the founder of Re-Logic, the development studio that created Terraria, and this studio was planning on bringing Terraria to Stadia, but this may have changed thanks to Google locking Spinks out of his Google account. You see, Google sent Spinks a ToS warning for a YouTube violation, which was ignored thinking it was sent in error, and so Google did what is does best and banned Spinks' account for this violation, which has caused Spinks to hit back by announcing that the Stadia version of Terraria will no longer happen.
@Google my account has now been disabled for over 3 weeks. I still have no idea why, and after using every resource I have to get this resolved you have done nothing but given me the runaround.
— Andrew Spinks (@Demilogic) February 8, 2021
Late last night Andrew Spinks revealed in a series of tweets that his Google account had been banned for going on three weeks, and that he had been trying for weeks to find someone at Google that could help, but of course came up empty handed. It's a familiar story, but this one is a little less clear thanks to a ToS warning that was sent for a YouTube violation. It would appear Spinks saw and chose to ignore this warning since he hadn't uploaded a new YouTube video in months, leaving him confused as to why he would receive this warning in the first place. Ignoring this warning was clearly a mistake, because as we can see Google went through with the account ban, and as we all know, overturning a ban is difficult unless you get the public on your side, which is how things are playing out right now.
I absolutely have not done anything to violate your terms of service, so I can take this no other way than you deciding to burn this bridge. Consider it burned. #Terraria for @GoogleStadia is canceled. My company will no longer support any of your platforms moving forward.
— Andrew Spinks (@Demilogic) February 8, 2021
As you can imagine, Spinks was more than likely frustrated with the entire situation, and so he has stated he no longer plans to bring Terraria to Stadia since it's a Google-controlled platform. Whether or not he retains the ability to do so remains to be seen (are contracts involved, etc.), but the sentiment is hard to ignore. What's interesting about this is that it's one of the first times I've seen someone hit Google back after a ban, and better yet, Spinks and Terraria actually have the clout to back up this threat since Terraria has a larger following than Stadia. After all, Terraria is a ten year old indie darling with a large cult following, so if it's possibly not coming to Stadia anymore, this could be a loss for the platform.
So far there's no word if Google will reinstate Spinks' account, but with the current press coverage making the rounds, I'm sure Google will finally get around to providing some actual customer service. Of course, there's a larger problem at play here. The fact that Google can so easily ban anyone's account, cutting users off from the very utilities often required to make a living online, such as YouTube and Gmail, makes it pretty clear the company needs to change how it handles these account bans. Relying on bots is utterly untenable, and yet there are no signs that Google is willing to change its destructive ways. So yeah, even if you've created one of the most popular indie games in the last decade, you still have to live in fear that your Google account could get banned at any time. Sure, this scenario is proof-positive that ignoring a ToS warning from Google is always a bad idea, even when that warning is made up of extremely vague language (and let's be honest, they almost always are). Google isn't playing around, but for once, it would appear the tables have turned nicely, and so we have a developer on our hands that also isn't playing.
Have no fear, Terraria will continue to exist on the Play Store
After yesterday's events unfolded, it was unclear if Andrew Spinks (and, in extension, Re-Logic) would continue to support the Play Store version of Terraria. Thankfully IGN has reported on a follow-up email from Re-Logic that confirms the studio has no plans on dropping support for the Android version of Terraria. Of course, the studio has also confirmed that it will not be bringing any new games to Google platforms moving forward, so it's clear Terraria still won't be coming to Stadia, which means Spinks is sticking to his guns.
So if you were worried that Spinks' feud with Google would force Re-Logic to drop support for the Android version of Terraria, worry no more. The developer has made it clear the Play Store version will remain unimpacted by this dispute.
We've also learned that Stadia Source has received a lengthy reply from Re-Logic that explains the timeline of the situation further.
Earlier today, our CEO, Andrew Spinks issued a statement in regards to our ongoing issues with regards to his Google Account (demilogic). We have taken time to review public and media commentary in order to ascertain where any areas of confusion may persist. We have provided the following in order to help alleviate this confusion/misperception around the @demilogic account issue:
- Android/Google Play versions of Terraria will not be affected. Punishing existing customers who paid for our game on these platforms is not what we are about. To be clear: there should be no impact whatsoever to Terraria on Google platforms, both existing/purchased games as well as ongoing store availability.
- The comments around future availability of Re-Logic games on Google platforms is in regards to anything not-currently-available. This is inclusive of any future versions of Terraria (such as Stadia) as well as any other games that our studio will develop in the future.
- The impacts here are not isolated to Mr. Spinks’ personal affairs, apps, etc. – though to be clear, those are many and substantial as well. Owing to the early days of the company, when Mr. Spinks was the sole employee of the company, there are quite a few legacy connections to the demilogic account that have been severed. This is inclusive of the Re-Logic YouTube account, many important documents stored on Drive, and much more. The impact is material in nature – and this has been made clear to Google repeatedly.
- The Timeline of events:
- Demilogic account receives a notice from YouTube alleging a violation in mid-late January. This was quite a bit confusing to us.
- We have not uploaded in three months.
- No one in our massive fanbase/subscribers noticed any new content uploaded at all, much less anything offensive.
- Additionally, the initial correspondence from YouTube on this matter were clear that this was not a major issue:
- “We know that you may not have realized this was a violation of our policies, so we are not applying a strike to your channel. We have removed the content.”
- No action or response was requested or suggested in this email.
- Since that time, through our efforts on Twitter with the support team at YouTube, we have been informed that our Re-Logic YouTube channel is clean and has no issues.
- To-date, we have not been informed of any real details behind the actual transgression that is alleged.
- Three days later, the entire Demilogic account – inclusive of Gmail, Google Play apps, Drive, and all other Google services – is disabled. Multiple appeals through the standard channels are met with an automated rejection absent of any further information.
- Many avenues were attempted with Google in private to resolve this matter – well beyond what people may have observed on Twitter a few weeks ago. Information has been sparse and difficult to obtain even with us being a long-standing partner.
- Even in the face of strong evidence that this is a mistaken action – evidence that has been in-hand for nearly 2 weeks now – this remains unresolved
- This is not a position that we take gladly or lightly. Google has been a long-time partner, but the inability to resolve this for us – a supposedly valued partner – within a time nearly spanning a month is not acceptable.
- Additionally, we are aware of many other incidents in a similar vein with a repeating pattern of “ban out of the blue” with no information as to the reason and no recourse. This has happened to countless individuals as well as developers for Android and beyond. We hope that our situation serves as both a cautionary tale for others as well as a vehicle for shining a bright spotlight on this issue as a whole. Perhaps some meaningful change on the customer service front will take place within Google as a result. It is sorely needed.
- For those within Google that did their best to assist to no avail, we are appreciative of their efforts. It is a real shame that is has come to this point.