Here’s how it went in public: Terraria Re-Logic co-creator and CEO Andrew Spinks posted a Twitter thread early Monday morning, accusing Google of suddenly and without justification suspending his studio’s YouTube, Gmail, Drive and Play accounts. He said he had been deprived of 15 years of resources for almost a month, even though he had never violated Google’s policies, and that the company refused to clarify the situation.
So Spinks canceled the Google Stadia edition of Terraria, a popular indie game in 2011 with an audience of more than 30 million players. Re-Logic hadn’t even announced the Stadia version of Terraria yet though rumors had recently hit the bulletin boards and the fans were excited about a new way to play.
Spinks tweeted, “I did absolutely nothing to violate your terms of service, so I can’t take that other than deciding to burn this bridge down. Consider it burnt. #Terraria for @GoogleStadia is canceled. My business will no longer support any of your platforms in the future. “
I did absolutely nothing to violate your terms of service, so I can’t take that other than deciding to burn that bridge down. Consider it burnt. #Terraria for @GoogleStadia is canceled. My business will no longer support any of your platforms in the future.
– Andrew Spinks (@Demilogic) February 8, 2021
Now here’s how it went behind the scenes, as described to Engadget by a spokesperson for Re-Logic: In mid-January, Re-Logic’s parent Google services account, Demilogic, received a notice. of YouTube saying it was in violation of site policies.
“It was quite confusing for us,” the spokesperson said. The developers hadn’t uploaded anything to the Re-Logic YouTube channel for three months, and no one in their community had alerted them to new or offensive content on the account.
Google did not immediately suspend the Re-Logic YouTube channel. Instead, her initial email read, “We know you may not have realized this was a violation of our policies, so we are not applying a warning to your. channel. We removed the content. “This did not suggest any further studio action.
Three days later, the entire Google Demilogic account was deactivated. This locked down the Re-Logic YouTube channel, as well as the studio’s access to Gmail, Google Play, and Drive. Over the next several weeks, Spinks attempted to resolve the issue with Google directly and privately, but repeatedly hit a wall.
“Due to the early days of the company, when Mr. Spinks was the sole employee of the company, there are many legacy ties to the Demilogic account that have been severed,” the spokesperson said. “This includes 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 on several occasions. “
YouTube confirmed to the studio that their channel was clean. It is still not known what the initial violation was or if the Demilogic account will ever be reactivated.
Which brings us back to Spinks’ Twitter feed.
“My phone has lost access to thousands of dollars of apps on @Google playSpinks tweeted. “I had just purchased the LOTR 4K and cannot complete it. my @Google Drive the data is completely gone. I cannot access my @Youtube channel. Worst of all is losing access to my @Gmail address over 15 years old. “
Google did not respond to a request for comment from Engadget.
The Re-Logic spokesperson said Spinks’ tweetstorm was a calculated move from a studio running out of options.
“This is not a position we take willingly or lightly,” they said. “Google has been a long-standing partner, but the inability to resolve this issue for us, the so-called esteemed partner, within almost a month is unacceptable.”
Integrated into its terms of service, Google has broad authority put an end to what he considers “abuse,” and he has wielded that power with impunity for years. The company has a story of banning of accounts and to move on, leaving users with little information and no recourse to dispute or resolve the violations. Re-Logic is just the latest example of this behavior.
“We are aware of many other incidents in the same vein with a repeated pattern of ‘unannounced ban’, with no information as to the reason and no recourse,” said the studio spokesperson. “It has happened to countless people as well as developers for Android and beyond. We hope that our situation will be both an uplifting tale for others and a vehicle to shine the spotlight on this issue as a whole. Perhaps a significant change on the customer service front will take place within Google as a result. It is sorely needed.
Terraria hit Android devices through the Play Store in 2013, and it will stay there, despite the studio’s difficult relationship with Google for now. The studio spokesperson clarified that Re-Logic will not work with Google on future projects, Terrariarelated or not.
“I won’t be involved in a company that values its customers and partners so little,” Spinks said at the end of his Twitter thread. “Doing business with you is a responsibility.”
Stadia, for its part, is in the process of restructuring. Google close the internal Stadia studios in early February and one of its star recruits, former Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond, left the company. After years of empty promises and a growing list of cloud gaming competitors, Stadia seems on the verge of collapse. Again, it is kind of always felt that way.