Hit mobile puzzler Threes was removed from Google Play last night for listing the game 2048, widely seen as Threes clone, as a search keyword.
Threes creator Asher Vollmer reported that his game had been pulled from sale around 11.30pm UK time last night.
"Google has bots that crawl over their store and look for instances of 'keyword stuffing' [that] then automatically take down the app," Vollmer told Engadget. "You then have to appeal to get the app back on the store, which can take two to three days.
"I want Google to rely on humans and not on robots to make these decisions. I want Google Play to at least issue warnings before they take these kinds of actions.... This was a completely tone-deaf move."
Google Play has taken Threes off the store because we used "2048" as a search keyword ?— Asher Vollmer (@AsherVo) May 5, 2015
Google Play (and the Apple App Store) are flooded with copycat versions of Threes.
2048, arguably the most popular clone of all, is available for free while Threes costs a small amount to download (it's currently in a sale for £1.49).
Threes originated first and, upon its release, was quickly copied countless times. Hundreds of these clones still exist on the various App Stores.
For his part, the creator of 2048 has claimed that his game was inspired by other Threes clones and not the original game, which he has said he was completely unaware of at the time that 2048 launched.
Regardless, Vollmer quickly brought Threes' disappearing act to Google Play's attention - aided by his army of Twitter followers. Four hours later, Threes was back on Google Play.
Threes has been restored to the Google Play store. I think they got the message.— Asher Vollmer (@AsherVo) May 6, 2015