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Kongregate App Pulled From Android Market 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the gone-in-a-flash dept.
itwbennett writes "Last week Google took a page from Apple's book and pulled the Arcade by Kongregate app from the Android Market for violating its terms of service. In particular, the part that forbids distributing 'any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market.' As Kongregate's Jim Greer explained to Joystiq, the app is essentially a custom web browser that loads in a Flash game from the mobile version of Kongregate. Plus, it will cache the game so you can play offline. And this may be the feature that got it yanked, speculates Ryan Kim at GigaOm."
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Kongregate App Pulled From Android Market

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  • Pulled from the market, but nothing saying it can't be installed manually... Or am I wrong?

    • Re:Not critical (Score:5, Informative)

      by Floritard (1058660) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:10AM (#34991660)
      You can actually grab it from Kongregate's site itself. [kongregate.com]
    • by mcvos (645701)

      Of course. You can still install from any source you like, but Google doesn't have to help you distribute it. Perfectly valid decision from Google, and Android is still more open than the iPhone because you don't have to use Google's Android Market. Still, I think it's a stupid decision from Google. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable and harmless app, and banning it gives the impression that Google secretly envies Apple's control freakery.

      • I don't see much control freakery, in fact I'm usually amazed at the things sold in the market. Take ROM buddy, for instance. Not only does it fall afoul of the same paragraph as this app, but the roms it offers for download are copyrighted and not theirs to sell ("only download if you own the original game" yeah right!) It's a paid app, too.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by intheshelter (906917)

        Quite the rationalization you've got there. Google censors something and they are still open. Apple censors something and they are closed and evil. At least have the balls to tell the truth to yourself, even if you can't admit it to the rest of the world.

        • by i_ate_god (899684)

          Android still is open. If one particular source is closed, nothing is stopping you from using another source.

          Apple? Not so much

          • by Duradin (1261418)

            If only someone could break the iPhone out of its jail.

            • by asdf7890 (1518587)
              But you don't need to break Android out of a jail to install stuff from other sources, and have to re-break-it-out every time an update is released (though as most manufacturers using Android on their phone don't update the OS, instead expecting you to buy a new phone when you want to change, mentioning no Motorolas in particular, this second point may be moot).
              • by mattack2 (1165421)

                Don't some Android devices only let you install from that phone company's store? (without hacking) You also note that some don't let you upgrade the OS.. so it seems very similar to me.

                • by asdf7890 (1518587)
                  Simple solution to both issues though.

                  I've not bought a phone through a network in at least 6 years, since the last one I got that way partly as an MP3 player as well as phone wouldn't let me load my own audio files (until I found the relevant hack, of course) - I have to re-buy them from the relevant store otherwise! I buy my phones outright instead of having them subsidised by my contract, though I do have a contract rather than PAYG (for my current use it works out better for me) and get the contract s
        • by morgauxo (974071)
          Not really. Android has a little checkbox in the setup menu that if checked (or was that unchecked?) allows you to download and install apps without using the marketplace just like you would on an older Windows mobile phone or a computer. Just go to the webpage, download and install. The marketplace is only a convenience, even a non-rooted phone can still run apps from outside the marketplace so long as they don't require low-level system access (like tethering). An iPhone however ONLY allows the user ac
          • You're correct.

            My only worry is handset makers like Motorola that are placing lock-in features in the phone hardware. It would be only a matter of time before a phone carrier has a special version of Android that is missing that little checkbox in the setup menu and force you to use their marketplace of choice. This could explain Google's decision with this app.

            I'm pretty sure I have nothing to worry about, since I have an HTC phone and multiple manufactures make it hard to lock down an entire Android eco

            • by MoonBuggy (611105)

              There are already totally locked down Android devices out there. I'd very much like the ability to install a half-way functional MP3 player on my B&N Nook, for example.

            • by morgauxo (974071)
              And that is exactly why there is so much animosity towards iPhone among Android fans. iPhone shows the carriers and the manufacturers that the majority don't care about the freedom to install. Apple is leading the way with iPhone towards a future where a few large corporations decide everything and tinkerers/makers/hackers have no place.

              Of course, it's not really Apple's fault that the people don't care. It's the people.
        • by mcvos (645701)

          Quite the rationalization you've got there. Google censors something and they are still open. Apple censors something and they are closed and evil.

          Why don't you read the post you're replying to? I explained it right there.

          Android is more open by its very nature, because you are not restricted by what Google approves or not. With an iPhone, you are bound by what Apple approves (unless you jailbreak, which Apple would like you to believe is illegal). So when Apple chooses not to sell something in their App Store, it's censorship: they're blocking the only possible way to get it. When Google chooses not to sell something, it's not censorship, because you

          • I read your post, it's just that it was bullshit. I'm not restricted by what Apple approves or not. I know I can go get other apps at an alternative source. Your BS about Apple's decision being censorship and Google's not being censorship is crap. Either they both are or they both aren't guilty of censorship if they reject an app. Your rationalization doesn't hold water.

            Keep your blinders on and swallow the "Google is open" koolaid. I'm informed, I just don't choose to ignore the reality of the simila

      • by shentino (1139071)

        The difference (and a damn BIG one at that) is that with the iPhone you have no alternatives. With android, you do. You can even unlock the bootloader if you like. You do, however, void the warranty if you do so.

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Which is different from jailbreaking in which non-trivial way?

          Both void the warranty. Both are legal (despite the howls of the Droidbois).

        • by Dast (10275)

          Unlock the bootloader, you say? Tell that to all of the D2/DX users out there.

  • by dlevitan (132062) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @04:35AM (#34991494)

    Last week Google took a page from Apple's book and pulled the Arcade by Kongregate app from the Android Market for violating its terms of service.

    Except that on my Droid I'm still allowed to download the app from Kongregate's website and install it, no matter what Google thinks. They can even update their app automatically, or, even distribute more than one app. I have apps like that on my phone. Of course, they don't get the exposure of Google's app store, but there's nothing inherently wrong with Google saying "We don't want that in our app store". As opposed to Apple, I choose what can and cannot be installed on my phone, not Google/Apple.

    • by Improv (2467)

      Control of the most common path of software installation is a dangerous power in anyone's hands. I don't think we should be happy when Google swings its weight around there, even if there are other roads than that highway to get apps out.

      • On the contrary, be glad! This sort of thing shows just how dangerous it is to have only one app store. The solution, of course, is to have 3 or 5 independent stores.

      • by Loosifur (954968)

        Dangerous power? Don't you think that's going a bit far? I would point out that it takes a comparable number of steps to install something from a website as it does to install something from the Market. Granted, you lose the Market's update checking, but there isn't anything preventing individual apps from checking for their own updates outside of the Market AFAIK. As long as you've enabled the option to install non-Market apps, that is, which hardly demands technical expertise on the part of the user. And

        • by MoonBuggy (611105)

          I basically agree with you - it's a totally different situation to Apple's 'app store or nothing' way of doing things, so it bothers me far less - but a single distributor with a big enough market share can become very dangerous. Just look at what WalMart can do - making certain movie and game ratings commercially non-viable is the first example that comes to mind, but I'm sure there are more.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        I agree but that's more of a cultural problem. People want the convenience of one all encompassing App store and they don't want to find and install their own stuff. Even if they replaced their marketplace with one run by some independent and supposedly impartial third party they would just be giving the power to that third party. I think that having the option to go around the marketplace is probably the best we can hope for.
        • by nschubach (922175)

          That option already exists... create your APK file, host it on a web server and put a 3D bar code with the URL all over your web page.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Dangerous how?
        I mean really? You can side load software on most android phones with little to no effort. "Don't by any android phone that is locked down to prevent side loading by the carrier... AT&T I am looking at you".
        You can also download alternative app stores for Android phones.
        So no this is really a none issue. This company didn't follow the rules and was removed from the android app store. The vast majority of users can still download it if they really want to. So what? A company is allowed to p

        • by Improv (2467)

          The danger is that this is not just another store - it is *the* store, the main place users go when looking for software. Whenever there's one of those, we should be very nervous - Just because Google did set rules doesn't mean that they should set them arbitrarily or for their own strategic reasons.

          Keeping an open platform is not based just on "what can you do" - common practice matters too.

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            I think you are seeing a problem where this is now. No it is all about what you can do with out much effort. On most android phones you do not have to root or jail break to side load apps. They even have an alternative app store in their app store!. You just check on unknown sources on the settings menu and you are good to go.
            There is no "Danger" here. There is no "Repression". There is no real problem.
            What we have is FUD.

            • by Improv (2467)

              I am fully aware of the alternate paths. I have a NexusOne, and am a programmer.

              Nontheless, when there is a common path that most people will use, self-serving control of that app store is bad for the industry and we should frown at it.

              • by LWATCDR (28044)

                Frown on? Well if you wish at least you no longer claim it is dangerous. Every company and person will always do thing that are in their own best self interests to some degree or another. In this case it just doesn't seem to be a problem to me. Google will also pull malware from their app store. Why? Because it is in their own self interest to not have it in the store.
                No store has a and obligation to carry any product and in this case most Google phones are in no way locked down from alternative apps an

                • by Improv (2467)

                  It is a danger, and we should frown on it. You may prefer for some reason that I focus on other issues, but I care about this one as well - when a store is the main store that the vast vast majority of users will use, it is not appropriate for it to serve its self-interests and lock out other products for strategic reasons.

                  Blocking malware? Sure. Nobody should object to that. Blocking competitors? No. People should be angry, and it should be seen as a blot on Google's name.

                  It's not FUD. It might not be some

                  • by LWATCDR (28044)

                    I can not buy a Chevy at a Ford Dealship. I can not buy a Whopper at McDonald's. I sure can not buy an iPod at the Microsoft store or the Sony Store. Again since you can buy them elsewhere it just isn't to level of a danger if it is anything at all.
                    BTW I went to your site. Some of your projects look very cool and thanks for contributing them. One suggestion is that blue links are a black background are very hard to read. Also if you have not looked at CentOS I suggest that you do. I feel that it is a much

                    • by Improv (2467)

                      I use CentOS at work - it's a good choice for where the servers are in a department where they don't want to pay for RHEL. I agree that Fedora's not a great choice for production systems (might not've thought that way a few years back, but I've grown to really like it). Thanks for visiting - I've been thinking about reworking the look of things - might do it someday.

                      The reason I don't think your analogy holds is that it's just as easy and well-known to go to one kind of dealership as another, one kind of re

                    • by LWATCDR (28044)

                      My main problem is that I feel you are over stating and exaggeration the problem. Using words like danger has a specific meaning and I feel that meaning just isn't there. Too fall back to a very old saying. It is like the boy that cried wolf. Save those terms for the real dangerous actions like what AT&T is doing to some Android phones and not this minor issue. In a way it is this tech support person at my office that uses the F-Bomb for everything. I am left to wonder what he uses when he actually ne

    • If they were to shut Kongregrate out of 'the market', only to launch their own gaming service through the market sometime later, they'd be no holier than Apple.

      Are Google's motives pure?

      • by RagingMaxx (793220) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:05AM (#34991638) Homepage

        I think Google is trying to protect developers on what is still an emerging platform.

        Plus, operating the App Market is not without cost, and Google takes a cut of all app sales to pay for that. If Kongregate or Steam or anyone else released a free app which allowed software download through an alternate channel, Google would basically be distributing their competitors products, for free.

        Google cannot just have 'pure' motives, they must also be tempered with pragmatism.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          That all rather begs the question of whether it is a good idea to have one company controlling Android, thereby destroying any plausible claim to being Open..
          • by Pastis (145655)
            Operators that ship android don't need to distribute the Google version of it. They can take the open source version and add a mail, maps and app store application of their own.

            Android is open. Google's android version has a few restrictions.
            • by morgauxo (974071)
              Just imagine the cries of fragmentation that would get us from the Apple fanbois!!!
              • by Pastis (145655)
                Hehe

                Talking about fragmentation!

                2 versions of Android ? What a waste !
                2 competing Desktop Environments on Linux ? Bouh !
                Different Linux distributions ? Yack !
                Different people ? Uerg ...
                Different species on Earth ? pfff
                Different planets & environments ? Crazy !
                Different universes ? (not yet proven, but ...)
        • by sorak (246725)

          I thought the reason for this is because they try to have some level of quality in the marketplace (no malware, for example), and downloaders allow people to circumvent those protections. Of course, your answer may be a larger reason for them.

      • They have pointed out what they did wrong and posible solutions on what they should do about it.
        Thats more than apple will do.

    • I was initially puzzled by the move, but as pointed out it is clearly in violation of the Terms of Service. I remembered reading this rule when I signed up as a developer. I think the real problem is the lack of an official explanation from Google. Kongregate is a pretty large site and gaming on Android is still in it's infancy. It just seems weird that not only did they not totally embrace this new, pretty solid little gaming app, but that they didn't provide the reasoning for taking it down. They didn't e
    • Well ok, except that Apple has received a lot of flack for running a curated app store period. The argument that Apple should allow alternative stores is much more legitimate, but as I see it the stores themselves are equally as closed.
  • It does seem that you have the best of both worlds with Android.You can download through the Apps store and know that there will be some degree of vetting and rogue software removed. If you want something outside you can do that too, but have to judge the source yourself.
    • by creativeHavoc (1052138) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:09AM (#34991654) Homepage
      I agree, Google says "we will not sell this through our app store" whereas Apple says "you cannot have this app." There is no reason to liken Google to Apple here.
      • by phmadore (1391487)
        Agreed.
      • I agree, Google says "we will not sell this through our app store" whereas Apple says "you cannot have this app." There is no reason to liken Google to Apple here.

        This isn't wholly true you know. Apple says, 'you can't have this through our store which is the only way without hacking to get it on our OS. You can have it if you hack the OS or install a different OS, but we won't support you."

        I realize this may seem like nit-picking but it's important to note that Apple doesn't actually stop anyone from getting an app legally, they just make it inconvenient if you want to use their mobile OS on the hardware they sell. The point still stands though.

        I'm still waiting for

      • Unless AT&T, TMobile, Samsung, LG, Motorola, et al, decided that sideloading apps was bad for their bottom line.

  • How do you make the distinction of online content, like e-books, flash games, podcasts? All are "online content", yet reader applications are allowed to go online to fetch the content (or even sell it). In my honest opinion, the only rule should be to exclude competing "Android markets", not content providers.
    • by binkzz (779594)

      How do you make the distinction of online content, like e-books, flash games, podcasts? All are "online content", yet reader applications are allowed to go online to fetch the content (or even sell it). In my honest opinion, the only rule should be to exclude competing "Android markets", not content providers.

      The difference, as far as I can make out, is that ebooks and podcasts aren't applications in themselves, only data files. Flash games are interpreted and can be made to do almost anything. Google doesn't mind having Flash applications or games in its store, but it doesn't want a store (or other distribution center) inside its store for applications or games.

  • by binkzz (779594) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:10AM (#34991662) Journal
    UPDATE: Google responded with a statement standing by its decision to pull the Kongragate Arcade app. “Applications in violation of our policies are removed from Android Market,” Google said. The reasoning comes down to the fact that the Kongregate app, while it acts much like a browser, has the ability to cache games for offline play. That elevates it into a competing software distribution platform offering outside content, something the Android Market terms of service prohibits. It’s likely that a simpler app that listed Kongregate games and launched a traditional browser could get approved. Or if the games were submitted as individual apps, they would also fly. It seems a distinction is being made here between digital content like books or music and mobile apps, which is why Kindle and other services don’t appear to be in danger of being pulled.
    • by citizenr (871508)

      That elevates it into a competing software distribution platform offering outside content, something the Android Market terms of service prohibits.

      I predict Amazon marketplace will be blocked from Google marketplace :D

    • by couchslug (175151)

      The solution to Market restrictions is to work around needing the Market.

      I'm sure Slashvertising was at least partially effective. :)

    • It's also pretty obvious why the rule is in place. I believe we all know flash apps themselves are subject to security flaws. Someone downloads kongregate's app from the google ap store, kongregate accepts a program that actually has a virus. All of a sudden google gets bombarded with "I got this in your store and it has a virus, what kind of quality control do you have, apple is right". This isn't a hinderence to fans of kongregate's games, if you are familliar with their games you are familliar with their
    • I'm glad to see that software repositories (app stores) are finally making their way into everything from phones to Windows (8?) and iOS.

      However, I'm pissed off at the limited and closed way that these repositories are designed.

      I get that the repo management should be able to punt any app they don't like. However, the users should also be able to add additional repositories (sources for downloading apps).

      It would be great to have a unified app selection process instead of having to jump between repos -- Wa

  • Says it all, really (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhunachchicken (834243) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:48AM (#34991830) Homepage

    Google Marketplace: "My house, my rules."

    Android Phone User: "My phone, my rules."

    Apple App Store: "My house, my rules."

    iPhone User: "My phone, Apple's rules."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      Android Phone User: "Give me Froyo!"

      Some Android Handset Makers: "No! Buy a new phone!"

      Sorry, couldn't resist.

      Also note that rooting the phone to install 2.2 solves the problem, but so does rooting an iPhone to solve the "Apple' rules" problem.

      Still, the level of hypocrisy seen in these comments is just hilarious. Google are taking the exact position that Apple have taken: deciding what will and won't be allowed in their online store, and yet the twisting and contorting by the Apple-bashing folk to justify

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        I call them "Droidbois".

      • by Skreems (598317)
        It only looks like hypocrisy if you didn't really understand the original complaint to begin with.
        • by jo_ham (604554)

          The original complaint being "I want an iPhone, but I know ahead of time that the system is a walled garden, despite this I will moan and complain that it should be more like Android"?

          There are pros and cons to both ecosystems - a negative on the iPhone side is an inability to install apps that are not in the app store without jailbreaking. This is irrelevant to a discussion about what apps are sold in the store however; if the potential inability to install apps not approved by Apple is a concern then why

          • You're glossing over the (very important) point about what exactly the rules in the store are. Sure, from a legal perspective, you can say "Their store, their rules" and be done with it. But from a practical perspective it matters a lot if they have a rule that says you can't re-implement the functionality present in current (or planned) official applications, as Apple had/has (I'm not current on their stance in this regard). Google, on the other hand, goes out of their way to point out that you can rep

      • Google are taking the exact position that Apple have taken: deciding what will and won't be allowed in their online store, and yet the twisting and contorting by the Apple-bashing folk to justify this as somehow different from Apple is amusing

        I don't see why you find something amusing that it is patently obvious: Google is different from Apple in that respect because Google Android Marketplace is not the sole channel of legally installing applications on one's Android phone, and therefore Google policies in Marketplace - no matter how restrictive - do not prevent Android users from installing applications from other sources.

    • Except that there is no such practical thing as an "Android user" as you haven't considered the handset manufacturer, network provider and the stacks of legalese that they put between you and your OS. Not to mention any modifications that have been applied to your phone to lock down your experience, eg crapware that can't be removed, blocking root access etc. And google by the way are responsible for this because when they chose the android license (as a known side effect of the linux codebase they elected
    • by Chemisor (97276)

      Steve Jobs: "You are so grounded!"

    • by sorak (246725)

      Google Marketplace: "My house, my rules."

      Android Phone User: "My phone, my rules."

      Apple App Store: "My house, my rules."

      iPhone User: "My phone, Apple's rules."

      Windows Mobile User: Fuck, is that a tumbleweed?

    • iPhone User: "My phone, Apple's rules."

      You can jailbreak at any time. Any device you physically control is always under your own rules.

      On Android, if it's "your rules" why can you not update many Android phones to FroYo?

  • Not like Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lavene (1025400) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @06:19AM (#34991924)
    Apple says "We don't like it so you can't use it!"
    Google says "We don't like it so we will not distribute it. You're of course free to get it elsewhere."
    Big difference. Huge actually.
    • Actually, to be accurate you change Apple to "We don't like it so we will not distribute it"

      Really it's a small difference. You're just lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

      • by Keerok (870468)
        Actually, Apple is saying to you " We don't like it, so we will not distribute it and we will make it hard and possibly cause you to break the law or your phone or your agreement or your warrenty to have it"
        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Just like some Android manufacturers who have users who can't upgrade to Froyo without rooting....

          • by assantisz (881107)
            But that would be phone manufacturer's doing and not Google's. Big difference, no? There will always be at least one choice of phones that allow you the full pure Android experience: the developer phones like Nexus 1 or the Nexus S.
            • by Drakino (10965)

              Not really. The Nexus One is still running 2.2, the same OS it shipped with a year ago. The Nexus S ships with 2.3. So much for the full pure Android experience, even from a developer phone.

              Apple allows developers early access to the next OS, for devices up to 3 years old. Google, no early access, and buy a new phone if you want to develop for the newest OS.

        • And yet essentially the same thing. They won't distribute it and you'll have to go elsewhere. It's not against the law, so that is a bogus argument on your part. As for the warranty, if you jailbreak the device it is perfectly logical for Apple to void your warranty on the device at that point. They can't tell wtf you may have done to it and shouldn't be responsible for the hacker tinkering with their phone.

          Face it, you give Google a free ride on this, but they censored something just like Apple. You e

    • Google says "We don't like it so we will not distribute it. You're of course free to get it elsewhere."

      Are you sure that this freedom is virally guaranteed? Otherwise Google are actually saying "we wash our hands of it, please check with your friendly, neighbourhood handset provider" I don't know the answer to this, but if no then we need to start adding this very important caveat to all generalisations made about what the customer can expect from android powered phones.

    • Apple says "We don't like it so you can't use it!"

      And then you download it from Cydia, just like you'd download an Android app from somewhere else.

      Android in fact is hampered by not having as well known an alternate application store.

  • Kongregate gets tons of visits every day. All they need to do (which they are) is advertise on the site - and you can just pick it up from there.

    Big deal.

    I learnt about this app from their website, and I picked it up from there - I didn't need to trawl the store either.

    • by Joe Tie. (567096)

      Not a big deal for them. I think the main point is that there's people who don't have that luxury or free publicity with the same problem.

      • by Haedrian (1676506)

        Well, they violated the TOS - since its considered an "App Store".

        I doubt any 'small fry' would have problems with that. Having your own app store/download hub requires a ton of resources.

  • I think their worst feature is that they seem to delight in waiting for a fair amount of cash to build up before just deciding to yank an account. Basically just stealing the money. It'd be one thing if they just warned you beforehand, but it's not uncommon for them to just do it out of nowhere. No warnings, just out of nowhere locking down an account. What's more annoying is that there seems to often be little logic to it. Sometimes they'll give warning after warning, months and months of it given to peopl

    • by Skreems (598317)
      I would hope that they refund the purchase price to those who bought the app. Is that not the case?
  • Considering that the browser can be used to install "offline-useable" webapps, and somewhere in the web there might be a page that links such offline capable apps (the main villain here seems to be a small Californian company by the name of Google???), so the browser is clearly in the business of providing an alternate market place, right?

    (Actually, postulating that there are more than one such page, I guess it's a case of an emergency, pull the browser, it can introduce multiple alternate market places, pl

  • Interesting since the chief Android Market guy said yesterday that they welcomed the Amazon store because competition would be good for the market.

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