Google Play drops Threes over keyword dispute

Last year’s indie mobile smash Threes! has been deleted from the Google Play store in a spectacular display of incompetence. The reason for the puzzler’s removal? The inclusion of rival title “2048” as a search keyword.

Threes!

Threes!

Asher Vollmer, Threes developer, broke the news via Twitter:

Google Play has taken Threes off the store because we used “2048” as a search keyword

Looking at the Google Play store, searches for almost every popular game will reveal at least a handful of trademark-infringing copies. It’s not unusual to list rival or competing games in a title’s keywords – many companies do it as a sort of “If you like that, you’ll love this!” approach. Nobody seems quite sure why Google has taken action on this one in particular – or why it’s penalised the original game over the clone.

A quick bit of history: Gabriele Cirulli’s 2048 popped up as a Threes! clone shortly after the original game shot to fame. It’s by no means the only alternate version of the game – probably not even the first – but it quickly became the most popular of the impostors.

2048

2048

It’s an unusual decision by Google to pull Threes without warning, too. Vollmer explains the studio was not contacted over the issue. Traditionally, Google has let developers know there’s an issue, either via direct communication or through requesting or blocking a change to the game’s search keywords. This time though, it seems this one “breach” of store rules has landed Vollmer – and Threes – on the wrong side of the Google-law.

Gabriele Cirulli, developer of 2048, has so far remained silent on the topic, while Google has not released any official statement.

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