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Sudden drop in number of daily installs on Google Play Store

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AxPetre, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. AxPetre

    AxPetre

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Posts:
    92
    Hi,

    This week, my game's install rate on Google Play Store has decreased from a sustained average of around 12,000/day, to just 5000/day, despite the fact that the game's search ranking in the store hasn't changed at all.

    Are you guys experiencing the same drop?


    UPDATE 1 - June 24th

    This problem seems to be generalized and many developers are affected by it.

    Possible cause:
    - The "Similar Apps" sections below game listing pages on Google Play Store seem to be buggy, and our games are no longer shown there at all.

    Not caused by:
    - Inaccurate installs reported on the console;
    - Android vitals;
    - Search rankings;
    - Summer exams;
    - World Cup.

    What we're doing:
    - Some of us have contacted Google to report this problem, and we expect replies sometime next week;
    - We'll be posting here any relevant updates in the following days.


    UPDATE 2 - June 25th

    - A developer group has been established on Discord at https://discord.gg/5Hny2Xy
    - Forum member @j0hka has managed to get a response from the live chat with Google: "The issue has already been escalated and our relevant team is investigating it."


    UPDATE 3 - June 26th

    - More devs have received replies from Google support, but so far nothing helpful. The replies have generally been "we're looking into it and we'll get back to you later";
    - The Discord group has reached more than 260 members, and between 70 to 100 of them are being present there at any given time.


    UPDATE 4 - June 27th

    - More answers came from Google support, but still no useful ones;
    - The Discord group has more than 370 members. The invitation link above has been updated and is now functional again (the previous one expired);
    - An article was published on Gamasutra about this problem (see links and info about this on the Discord group in the "Pinned Messages");
    - The Unity Forums moderator @zombiegorilla has requested to keep conversations on this thread civil and to refrain from mob mentality, and from "torches and pitchforks" attitudes against Google.


    UPDATE 5 - June 28th

    - A new reply came from Google Play Developer Support requesting evidence that the "Similar Apps" is malfunctioning, and a reply with the necessary evidence was provided to them;
    - The Discord group now has more than 650 members.


    UPDATE 6 - June 29th

    - Still no definitive information from Google, but they claim to be looking into the issue carefully;
    - The Discord group has reached more than 930 members.


    UPDATE 7 - July 6th

    - Even after evidence has been provided more than a week ago that the "Similar Apps" section is broken, the replies from Google have been the same generic templates, in which they haven't acknowledged any malfunction of their system, insisting that everything is fine, and they're "focusing on app quality";
    - As such, it's unlikely that there will be any improvement coming soon, so the best we can hope for is that they'll change the algorithm again in a few months, and it will be less bad;
    - The Discord group now has more than 1500 members.


    UPDATE 8 - July 21st

    - It's been one month since this problem begun, and still no improvement;
    - Since yesterday, the "Similar Apps" section has been removed entirely from both the mobile version and the desktop version of Google Play Store. On mobile, pressing the green button called "Similar" yields an empty list with the message "No results found" (this is the case for any game or app);
    - The Discord group has reached more than 1700 members.


    UPDATE 9 - July 25th

    - The "Similar Apps" section is back since yesterday, but still broken.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  2. prettyteengames

    prettyteengames

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    Hi,
    There is 60% drop in overall installs, its not summer exams..
    three days back google play's crawler refreshed data,, and all similar items are messed up.. after wards all our accounts and games are on a continous decline.. no words from google
     
    Martin_H and AxPetre like this.
  3. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    That's interesting, I didn't knew that, thanks for the info.
    Indeed, it seems that there are very few games listed in the "Similar Apps", or "You Might Also Like" recommendations, and not only that, but some of those recommended apps seem also to be quite random.
     
  4. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Hi,

    We've experienced the same issue during the last couple of days, downloads have gone down quite significantly across several of our games on Google Play. Is this a known issue that you think will be fixed or what is happening?
     
  5. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    I don't know, but I also found posts on Reddit with developers mentioning the same problem:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/androiddev/comments/8t935n/huge_drop_in_downloads_over_the_past_48_hours/
    https://www.reddit.com/r/androiddev/comments/8t8u7z/my_app_is_suddenly_dying_on_the_play_store/

    For me, this problem started on 20th of June, which (coincidentally or not) is right after the day when Google Play started adding that security metadata to all the apps (they announced this a long time ago and they started implementing it from 19th of June).
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  6. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Ok, thank you.

    Yes it started for us on the 20th as well, I read the other forums as well, no one seems to know what the cause is.
    I wonder how many developers this is effecting? Most may not notice anything until Monday.

    Please post any findings here and I'll do the same.
     
    gulfam131 likes this.
  7. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    Sure will.
     
  8. j0hka

    j0hka

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  9. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Very scary, but most likely it's not something we've done. Either it's a glitch and it will go back or they may have updated something that changed the discoverability our apps.

    Have anyone noticed if you've lost some featuring on the store?

    I've sent emails to the contacts I have at Google Play and hopefully they'll respond soon.
     
  10. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    Same thing here, downloads dropped by an order of magnitude on one app, doubled on other.
     
  11. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    Good to have official contacts. Please update us when you have a reply from them.
     
    gulfam131 likes this.
  12. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    Oh yeah, in the "Similar Apps" and "You Might Also Like" recommendations listed at the bottom of game's listing pages. Those are really messed up now: I checked the recommendations on the pages of my own game and other games from the flight simulator genre, and they show up all sorts of games that have nothing to do with flight sims (farming, medical, fishing, pool, races, etc...). While previously, my game would be recommended as similar to almost all other flight sims, now it's not being listed at all in the "Similar Apps" and "You Might Also Like".
     
    Kookerstudio likes this.
  13. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Ok, but not anywhere else like in "What's hot" or similar featuring? Feels like that alone wouldn't cause drops this big.
    According to our analytics tool we used to get a lot of installs from country "null", those are completely gone now.
    Don't know if it's related but it might be.
     
  14. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    I don't know where the "What's hot" section is displayed, but I can't find it anywhere on the home page or game category pages, so I can't confirm. Plus, my game wasn't featured anyway on other sections like "Trending Games", or "Popular Games".
     
  15. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    Same here, 20.000 daily download drop down to 7.000 yesterday and probably 3.000 today.
    Glad to know it happen to a lot of people and make me hope google are running some tests and change on search algorythm.

    I'm using mobile action and all my keywords ranking and catergory ranking are almost the same, so this is very strange. But my revenue dropped down too so the problem is not only about stats.
     
  16. j0hka

    j0hka

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    What is your app? I noticed a lot of flight simulators in my app's "Similar" tab earlier and my app has nothing to do with them. Maybe there's a connection?
     
  17. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    My app is "Turboprop Flight Simulator 3D" (the link is in the post signature, below this text).
    There are only a few flight simulators that get featured in that "Similar" section (including on games that are completely unrelated), but mine isn't among them.
     
  18. j0hka

    j0hka

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    Yeah I see the farming and medical apps on your app's similar page. My app is "Hydraulic Press Pocket" and the similar apps are off. I used to have PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator there which is similar but now it has wedding and farming games to name a few.
     
  19. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    Yeah, I see your similar apps are completely off also, and those flight games over there are the same ones I keep encountering on numerous other "Similar" sections. This explains why a few developers are seeing big boosts in installs these days, while most of us are losing out.
     
  20. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Is there any way to confirm that this is the issue?
     
  21. verybinary

    verybinary

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    first off, stop crying about 5000 installs a day.
    secondly, stop crying about 5000 installs a day.
    third, who do you give money to for advertising?
     
    blashyrkh888 likes this.
  22. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Maybe it's because the entire human race is watching football?
     
    Meltdown likes this.
  23. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    Do you have other analytics as well? Often the numbers they provide are projections/estimates. While it may be possible that your installs are down, it also may be possible that numbers you are seeing is off. Or it was off before and they have corrected it. I would look at other sources and see if there is a difference there too.
     
  24. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    Unless we get a reply from Google, I don't think so.

    I have other sources of data (UnityAds and Unity Analytics new users count, Chartboost install count, YouTube game's trailer views count) and they are all pointing to the same sharp drop in installs. This is real, and not a problem with the numbers in the Google Play Developer Console.
     
  25. migrax

    migrax

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    I have got 14 games in the Play Store altogether doing about 20k installs/day. Tha same thing is happening to me. I wonder if today there will be 2000 installs. No changes in keywords rankings for my apps. BTW it would appear that downloads rely almost entirely on the "Similar" section...
     
  26. bart_the_13th

    bart_the_13th

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    Does this have something to do with that?
    https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answer/9023647?hl=en
    Although it still doesnt make sense at least to me, even if the user/downloader decides to not share their data, the download count should still increasing...
     
  27. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    Is the drop just on play? Is it happening on the App Store as well?
     
  28. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Without a way to track the user making the download you wouldn't be able to determine if it was legitimate or a bot.
     
  29. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    I am seeing this only on Google Play. From the three apps that I have, one almost lost all the downloads traction, the other two doubled. Too bad all the revenue was coming from the one that lost the downloads. My revenue stream flopped.

    app1, 3500 downloads -> 300 downloads
    app2, 3000 downloads -> 6000 downloads
    app3, 4000 downloads -> 9000 downloads
     
  30. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    More than 80% of downloads in stores comes from search. Everyone's talking about organic traffic here.
     
  31. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Ok. Have you sent a question to them?

    I didn't realize that it would have such a huge impact. When I look at our games "Similar" section it looks somewhat correct, I don't remember how it used to be. But I can't find our game in any of the similar games.

    I think that if it was that then it wouldn't show up in other analytics tools.

    I was listening to a person from Google last week and he said that they soon were going to start ranking games and apps based on their vitals in the dashboard, and that it's super important to be under the crash rate and ANRs thresholds.
    Maybe it's that?
     
  32. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    How this drop could happen ?!
    I track my keywords for 28 countries and everything looks fine. It doesn't make sense and we can't fight against this.

    Anyone tried to contact google ? Their chat service is never available for me.
    If this issue continue, they will killed my company and I guess I'm not alone to this situation.

    I think google have to be more transparent of such operation.
     
    TINYSOFT likes this.
  33. bart_the_13th

    bart_the_13th

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    If that's the case... then I'm screwed... after upgrading Unity version to 5.6.5 (from 5.2.0) , my app start to have ANRs & crashes... Any clue on how much is the threshold value?
     
  34. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    No problems with vitals here.
     

    Attached Files:

  35. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    I don' think so about crashes, I update my games end of may, crash and ANR drastically drop down and are under the threshold. This can't explain a sudden fall to me.
     
  36. L8_Pat

    L8_Pat

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    Ok, then we know that vitals are not causing it.
     
  37. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    So the problem is not due to :

    . Vitals issue
    . Keyword ranking issue
    . Category ranking issue

    Let's continue the investigations and also wait and hope for a google answer.
     
  38. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    It doesn't seem to affect the App Store.

    Yes I sent them a message about the drop in installs, and also mentioned the "Similar Apps" issue, but they say they'll answer in 2 business days, while in my previous communications with them they replied anywhere between 4 business days to more than a week, so we shouldn't hold our breaths.

    Not an issue for my game, since its vitals are above the thresholds.

    I did, but with the contact form, not on chat, and it will take several business days for them to respond.

    In the Google Play Console, select your game, then expand the section called "Android Vitals" and choose "Overview". There you will find some boxes with the ANR and Crash rates, and the "Bad behavior thresholds".
     
  39. bart_the_13th

    bart_the_13th

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    I see.. maybe my download count is still not high enough to show the data there...
     
  40. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    We can only guess regarding how many devs are impacted. The more are impacted, the faster Google will address this.

    I have two play store accounts and all apps have been impacted by this issue.
     
  41. Tamasenco

    Tamasenco

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    Thank you so much AxPetre for making this thread... I was close to loose my mind with this issue... from 1500 installs to 800 and not to 150... Our game it is an Idle game and still keeps the keywords ranks and I was not able to find where is the problem. From this issue it is clear that most of the installs comes probably from "similar games" results and not the keywords ranks by itself. The sad thing is that google in general dont cares if you do not pay so I am not sure if this issue will change back to normal. Or maybe this is the normal for Google... Because some they got a crazy increase of installs... if you see the "similar games" are mostly those that they are the big games advertised games that it seems that now they take all the installs... I am sure that you see that on your game's "similar games" too...
     
  42. tiburon

    tiburon

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    Same here with my game apps, 3 days in a row of dropping installs.
     
  43. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    I don't think this is a move by Google to give more installs to those who pay for advertising.

    As mentioned before, I have 3 apps on two different accounts. One of them lost all downloads, the other two doubled. And i am not paying a cent on advertising.
     
  44. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    I don’t think the problem is due to « similar app »
    My app drop from 20.000 to 4.000 dl.
    All aso provider always talk about the keyword utility to get organic install, keyword is the most important thing if we beleive them. so I don’t beleive the keywords represent a very small part of the installs and the other come from « similar games »
     
  45. hejing1983

    hejing1983

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    The drop still happened to me. the funny thing is that one of my game is disappeared. Now I can't search that game with even full name , and When I enter my developer page,It even don't listed there. There must be a bug on google.
     
  46. Tamasenco

    Tamasenco

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    I came to this conclusion because still we keep all the keywords that we had before the issue. And some of them they are even strong keywords as "Wild West" that we are the 2nd game right now (Wild West Idle Tycoon), "Idle tap" 3rd, "Idle tycoon" 5th and "Idle" 10th, that all of them are strong keywords but still we get almost nothing in installs (58 installs from our "appsflyer" analytics tool that it shows the same with unity analytics) when some of them they are even users who searched for the game. I am not very optimistic with this issue and how google handles such issues...

    from apptweak live keywords search:
    keyword.png
     
  47. th0rnout

    th0rnout

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    Same story here... 10,000 -> 2,000 -> 1,000 yesterday.

    How about there's some inside list of featured apps that appear in sections like "Similar Apps" or "Recommended For You" that gets refreshed every now and then. Maybe some list like this just got refreshed.
     
  48. j0hka

    j0hka

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    My game went from 5K daily to 600. I also released my new game a week ago and the plan was to get it going with the help of those 5K daily installs on the old game but I guess not then. Potentially months of work and a stable paycheck wasted as a result of this mess. Good times.
     
  49. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    j0hka for some reason I can't seem to be able to answer you on that conversation, so I'll answer here: The GDPR update on my game has most likely nothing to do with this problem, especially since I released that update almost a month ago.
     
  50. j0hka

    j0hka

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    Oh okay, I just quickly read it was an emergency update so I thought it could have something to do with the current issue.