Google is in hot water after banning the Google account of Andrew Spinks, the lead developer of the popular indie game Terrariums. The YouTube account of Spinks’ game developer, Re-Logic, was hit by some kind of terms of service violation, which led to Google banning Spinks’ entire Google account, significantly reducing his company’s ability to do business. was disrupted. After three fruitless weeks of trying to resolve the situation, Spinks announced that his company will no longer do business with Google and that the upcoming Stadia version of Terrariums is cancelled. “I will not be involved with a company that values their customers and partners so little,” spinks said:. “Doing business with you is an obligation.”
Three weeks ago, the official Terrariums Twitter account publicly pleaded with YouTube for some sort of solution to a recent Google account ban. The Terrariums account explained“We haven’t added anything new to our only YT channel (RelogicGames) in several months. However, we randomly received an email saying that there was a TOS violation, but that it was probably accidental and that the account therefore would not receive any warnings.” The Terrariums Twitter account continued: “Three days later, the entire Google account (YT, Gmail, all Google apps, even any purchase made in the Google Play Store over 15 years) was disabled without warning or recourse. This account is linked to many business functions and as such the impact for us is quite significant.”
Re-Logic’s vague memory of “a TOS violation” highlights one of the main frustrations of a Google account ban: you immediately lose access to your Gmail account, so you can’t give a thorough account of what happened or what happened. has been said in the communication, because you cannot read your email. Re-Logic’s YouTube channel, still here (with a disabled profile picture) appears to be nothing but trailers of the company’s games.
Spinks says his entire Google account has been down for three weeks now and that Google “has done nothing but give me the detour”. You can check for yourself the quality of Google’s support on Twitter. After the tweet from the official Terrarria account, YouTube support turned down Re-logic’s request to try to solve the problem privately, instead to make publicly irrelevant suggestions to the game developer with more than 30 million customers. First, YouTube early if Re-Logic could access his blocked email account, which the developer had already explained had been banned. Dan, YouTube suggested try Google’s account recovery system, which is only for users who have forgotten their Google password. Finally, YouTube shared instructions for recovering a voluntarily deleted Google account, which is in no way relevant to an account ban.
Then Spinks made his big announcement.
I’ve done absolutely nothing to violate your terms of service, so I can’t take this any other way than you decide to burn this bridge. Consider it burned. #Terraria in front of @GoogleStadia is cancelled. My company will no longer support any of your platforms in the future.
— Andrew Spinks (@Demilogic) February 8, 2021
Google is notorious for the way it handles issues on Google Play and YouTube, where every rule violation feels like it’s being handled by a bot, and getting a hold of a real human can be an impossible task. Google wants people to build a business on top of its platforms, but the lack of common sense dispute resolution is, as Spinks puts it, “an obligation.” Google makes billions of dollars a year with both services.
Google uses one account system for almost all of its products. On the one hand, this makes it easy for users of one Google service to try other Google services, but it also leads to ridiculously disproportionate penalties if a user is slapped with an account ban. A YouTube copyright claim, a dispute over a Google Pay transaction, or a TOS violation can lead to your entire online life being cut short. If you’re all-in in the Google ecosystem, a Google account ban means you’ll lose access to your entire email account; all the photos you’ve ever taken; your cell phone service; your ability to communicate with friends and family; all your 2FA accounts; anything that uses Google OAuth; your app development company; your YouTube business and all your followers; your purchased apps, games, movies, music, and books; and all your contacts, documents, bookmarks and notes.
For many people, a Google account ban is an online death sentence, and it’s also a punishment handed out without much recourse to the victim. How would you even start contesting a Google account ban if the first thing that happens is your Gmail stops working? If you happen to be a famous indie developer with a popular game in development for Google’s streaming service, canceling your game publicly on Twitter is probably a good way to make your case.
We have asked Google for a response to the Spinks account and will update this post if the company contacts us.