Android Developer Story: Big Fish Games uses open beta testing to de-risk their game launch

Android Developer Story: Big Fish Games uses open beta testing to de-risk their game launch

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Based in Seattle, Big Fish Games was founded in 2002. Starting as a game studio, they quickly turned into a major publisher and distributor of casual games. Leading up to the launch of their hit time management game, Cooking Craze, the team ran an open beta on Google Play.

Big Fish Games found that using open beta provided more than 10x the amount of user feedback from around the world, and also gave them access to key metrics and Android Vitals in the Play Console. The ability to monitor game performance metrics pre-launch allowed the team to focus on areas of improvement, which lead to a 21% reduction in crash rate. The larger sample size of beta testers also provided more insights on player behavior and helped achieve a +7% improvement in day 1, day 7, and day 30 retention rates.

You can also learn more pre-launch best practices and strategies to improve performance post-launch at our Google Developer Day on Monday, March 19th at GDC. Sign up to stay informed.

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How we fought bad apps and malicious developers in 2017

How we fought bad apps and malicious developers in 2017

Posted by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play

Apps bring devices to life — letting you book a ride instantly, connect and share memories with friends, be alerted about current events, play games with someone across the globe, and get work done in the office or on the road. Google Play is committed to providing a safe experience for billions of Android users to find and discover such apps. Over the years, this commitment has made Google Play a more trusted and safer place. Last year we’ve more than halved the probability of a user installing a bad app, protecting people and their devices from harm’s way, and making Google Play a more challenging place for those who seek to abuse the app ecosystem for their own gain.

In 2017, we took down more than 700,000 apps that violated the Google Play policies, 70% more than the apps taken down in 2016. Not only did we remove more bad apps, we were able to identify and action against them earlier. In fact, 99% of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them. This was possible through significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse – such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware – through new machine learning models and techniques.

We’ve also developed new detection models and techniques that can identify repeat offenders and abusive developer networks at scale. This resulted in taking down of 100,000 bad developers in 2017, and made it more difficult for bad actors to create new accounts and attempt to publish yet another set of bad apps.

Here are a few examples of bad apps we took action against in 2017:

Copycats

Attempting to deceive users by impersonating famous apps is one of the most common violations. Famous titles get a lot of search traffic for particular keywords, so the bad actors try to amass installs leveraging such traffic. They do this by trying to sneak in impersonating apps to the Play Store through deceptive methods such as using confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale. In 2017, we took down more than a quarter of a million of impersonating apps.

Inappropriate content

We don’t allow apps that contain or promote inappropriate content, such as pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities. The improved machine learning models sift through massive amounts of incoming app submissions and flag them for potential violations, aiding the human reviewers in effectively detecting and enforcing on the problematic apps. Tens of thousands of apps with inappropriate content were taken down last year as a result of such improved detection methods.

Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs)

PHAs are a type of malware that can harm people or their devices — e.g., apps that conduct SMS fraud, act as trojans, or phishing user’s information. While small in volume, PHAs pose a threat to Android users and we invest heavily in keeping them out of the Play Store. Finding these bad apps is non-trivial as the malicious developers go the extra mile to make their app look as legitimate as possible, but with the launch of Google Play Protect in 2017, the average annual PHA installs rates on Google Play was reduced by 50 percent year over year.

Despite the new and enhanced detection capabilities that led to a record-high takedowns of bad apps and malicious developers, we know a few still manage to evade and trick our layers of defense. We take these extremely seriously, and will continue to innovate our capabilities to better detect and protect against abusive apps and the malicious actors behind them. We are committed to make Google Play the most trusted and safe app store in the world.

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Join us for Google Developer Day at GDC 2018

Join us for Google Developer Day at GDC 2018

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

We’re hosting another Google Developer Day at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Monday, March 19th.

Join us for a full day, where we’ll kick things off with a keynote to share our latest news for game developers, followed by three sessions focused on innovation & new platforms, pre-launch best practices, and strategies to improve performance post-launch. Each session will include mini-talks from different Google teams and developer partners sharing new tools, learnings and more.

We’ll also have a booth in Moscone South, Wednesday (March 21) through Friday (March 23), offering three days of additional talks from many Google teams and a chance for you to ask the experts any of your questions. Stop by to hear talks, meet experts, and try out exciting demos. These events are part of the official Game Developers Conference and require a pass to attend.

Learn more about Google’s activities throughout the week on our event site where you can sign up to stay informed. For those who can’t make it in person, join the live stream starting at 10am PST on Monday, March 19th.

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Guest Post: Is Social Media Good or Bad For Democracy?

Guest Post: Is Social Media Good or Bad For Democracy?

By Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, the Hoover Institution This post is part of a series on social media and democracy. For some two centuries, the electoral process has developed alongside technology – radio and television, the introduction of voting machines, mechanical and electronic – but never has the impact been so dramatically disruptive as in […]