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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.

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  1. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    Ouch.
     
  2. dohaiha930

    dohaiha930

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    Copy paste reply, especially in this case is not surprise. With big company like Google or Microsoft, everytime i ask some things, they all copy/paste from somewhere. They just a bot with better "I'm not a robot" algorithm.
     
  3. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    I don't think this is the case. for me:

    Major Mayhem 1 downloads went form 7000 a day -> 27000 a day.
    Major Mayhem 2 downloads went from 17000 a day -> 3000 a day.

    Revenue for Major Mayhem 2 is 3x -> 10x Major Mayhem 1 in all ways you can measure it. So all our revenue has disappeared. Hopefully fixed soon. :\
     
  4. Chikist

    Chikist

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    I received a response from technical support.

    "Hi,

    Thanks for contacting Google Play Developer Support.

    It is difficult to determine the exact reason for a drop in your stats, but there are a few things that could lead you to see a decrease in installs, including:

    • An app update that decreased the number of supported devices or had a bug that decreased ratings or popularity.
    • A change in rank due to an algorithm update or normal change in ranking signals from your app and other apps.
    • Expired eligibility for "Top New" lists (if your app aged over 30 days).
    • An update to the app's description, icon, or other store listing details that may have changed your app's appeal.
    Regardless of the cause, you can always work to improve your app’s visibility. Here are some tips:

    • Build a lasting and meaningful experience for your users
    • Maintain and improve your app through regular updates
    • Encourage users to provide feedback by leaving reviews and ratings for your app
    • Provide great customer service by responding to your users and addressing issues
    You can also check out the Playbook for Developers App on Google Play.

    I hope you find these suggestions useful. Please let me know if you have any other questions.


    Regards,
    Pete
    Google Play Developer Support"
     
  5. Jenzo83

    Jenzo83

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    Got the exact same answer.
     
  6. Tamasenco

    Tamasenco

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    It is like they are making fun with you, right?

    We had the same problem with an other bug of google that kept us with 0 installs for 28 days and we finally made it to "hack" the problem, as our game was not appearing in 95% of the countries because of their bug and all the answers from support was that "we dont know how playstore is working and that new games come every day and blah blah blah..." only empty copy paste words....
     
  7. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    I got the same response too. I responded to their reply, I'll fill in if I get anything meaningful from them. But my guess is it's not got much to do with bd support, they probably don't even know there's a problem yet.
     
  8. Ak47-forever

    Ak47-forever

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    Hi,
    My drop start from May 4th from 3k per day -> 700, next day 400, next day 100 per day. ON ALL APPS...

    I also contact google about this issue and they answer me like to Chikist.

    Also i updated one app, and for one month i get 120 5 star reviews and 9 1 stars reviews. 5 starts are more then 80% of all.
    My app rating increase from 3.91 to 4.02. and still no increase in downloads same as drop start...
    By this rating is not important anymore???
     
  9. migrax

    migrax

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    Could Unity as a company help? After all if this problem persists it is in the end affect their business, too. My thinking is that maybe they might have means of communication with Google.
     
  10. PZ2100

    PZ2100

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    Same here: a x5-x15 drop in downloads across all apps that had any significant downloads. As others mentioned, it's obviously because of the Similar Apps issue.

    2 things I wanted to add:

    1. PLEASE everyone reading this thread, open a ticket at Google Support. Google relies a lot on algos, so unless really A LOT of developers start complaining now, they may not consider this as an issue at all and may take months to eventually fix this. We must swarm them with support tickets so that at some point their systems detect that there are lots of similar tickets, raises a red flag and finally a real person looks into it.

    2. It might be an intentional change actually. E.g. I've currently opened 20 or so dress-up apps by different developers. These all now show "Talking Angela", "Pretty Ballerina" and "Barbie" in top-5 Similar Apps. Which kinda actually makes sense because all (or at least most) of these recommended apps are targeted at girls. I checked the caches as AxPetre suggested - and as of April 2018 such dress-up games would show only other dress up games in Similar Apps and not Talking Angela. It was so precise to even follow the topic: for a "wedding dress up" game it would show only "wedding dress up" (and not, say, "superstar dress up"). My intuition about the change is that now the algo, instead of searching for an app with similar description/screenshots/icons, looks for apps which the same audience plays the most. E.g. among girls the most popular apps are "Talking Angela", "Barbie" and "Pretty Ballerina". Google's algo takes a dress-up app, asks "which audience plays this?", detects that it's girls 4-8 mostly, then looks up which apps are the most popular for this audience profile, and returns Talking Angela.

    If this was intentional, then we're gonna see the store getting more polarized. All apps would be essentially advertising the top apps (in their audience segment) through "Similar Apps" list and get only downloads from search results themselves.

    I think I can get the rationale Google might have had behind this change, but the effect is too devastating to the "middle-class" developers (those who don't have hit apps, high enough to be the best in the audience segment, but are still good enough to have some niche appeal and show up in Similar Apps for many other middle-class apps).

    It may as well be that they've decided to make the store more "focused" and bring users from all those middle-class apps to the "best" apps which are easier for Google to manage. In 2017 alone they've got 1.5 million new app submissions, and that's a huge mess, so they may have decided to take measures and stop the flood. If that's the case, of course most of us are now out of business. The question now is if Google really wants this, or they just didn't expect this to have such a drastic effect - please post support tickets and we will find out.
     
  11. migrax

    migrax

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    I agree and fear that your conclusions are right. I already submitted my ticket with their support. I wonder whether there would be a way for us indie devs to somehow unite, and establish a way to communicate with Google more directly. After all, I understand that they have every right to even shut down the store tomorrow, if they wish so. But some honest communication - is that really so much to ask for?
     
  12. Chikist

    Chikist

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    We should try to tell journalists about our problem. And when there will be news around the world that Google is fighting such a struggle with small developers, perhaps large media will also tell us about our problem and then Google will have to change something.
     
  13. Ak47-forever

    Ak47-forever

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    Just watch numbers of review one of the similar apps that popup, and you will see problem.. Its like only big companies get all downloads.
    And we can't do nothing about that...
     
  14. snoutup

    snoutup

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    A general agreement on Discord, which came from unconfirmed and unofficial information, is that this happened due to changes in algorithms. Which makes sense, especially if the changes were complex enough, so that old data couldn't be reused anymore. Now, kind of knowing that, it also would make sense that we're now seeing algorithm trying to repopulate new data, while top apps and some weird stuff (those damn bubble shooter games) left as placeholders.

    Will we see anything good come out of this? Hope so. Could've this done in a better way / were these glitches unavoidable? Google Play engineers can answer that. Should've they communicated something? That'd be nice. Are we really surprised they didn't communicate? Not really. Is this a conspiracy designed to kill indies #GooglePlaypocalypse? Doubt that.

    Fingers crossed that we see some normal data in related games as well as restored category listings in Europe (Casino is still empty for me on desktop site).
     
    Tanek likes this.
  15. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    I am inclined to agree with you. Let's hope it won't take months for the algo to learn.
     
  16. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    I received a reply from Google Play Developer Support.


    My original message I sent them a few days ago:

    Hi,

    I'm contacting you regarding the sudden drop in number of daily installs of my app. This drop has started this week, and based on interactions with other developers, it is a generalized problem.

    A possible cause for this might be the fact that the "Similar Apps" sections located below each app listing page, seem to be malfunctioning, in that they display games that are unrelated to the ones they're supposed to be similar to.

    Example:
    1. Write "flight simulator" in the search box on Google Play
    2. Choose the first game displayed (it will most likely be "Flight Pilot Simulator 3D Free)
    3. On that game's listing page, check the "Similar Apps" section;
    4. From more than 30 games (supposedly similar), only 5 are related to flight, while most are completely dissimilar (see attached screenshot).

    The issue described above is generalized, and my game is no longer shown on any "Similar Apps" section.

    Please address this issue.
    Thank you.

    Best wishes,
    Alex



    Google Play Developer Support reply today:

    Hi Alexandru,

    Thanks for contacting Google Play Developer Support to report the behavior you're seeing with install drop.

    I’ve documented your issue and escalated it to our technical team for further investigation. Our team is working to resolve this issue for you as soon as possible.

    Regarding your apps not showing on Similar category, the apps are algorithmically selected and change regularly. At the moment, we can't manually add any app to similar apps section. Keep in mind that more apps are added to Google Play every day and the search algorithm is regularly updated, an app's position can change in search results from time to time.

    I hope this helps. If you have any other questions in the meantime, please let me know.

    I appreciate your patience and I’ll let you know the moment I have an update from the relevant team about install drop.

    Regards,
    Luna
    Google Play Developer Support


    My reply to them today:

    Hi Luna,

    Thank you for the reply.

    I understand that the apps are algorithmically selected and that you can't add my app in the "Similar Apps" section manually, nor would I ever ask such an (unethical) favor. I also understand that any app's ranking can change in time as more apps are added to Google Play.

    What I'm saying is that the "Similar Apps" section is actually broken, and I have attached to this email a few more screenshots to prove this fact. The screenshots are showing the way the "Similar Apps" sections were looking a few weeks ago and the way they look now. Three things can be noticed from the screenshots:
    1. There are a lot fewer games shown as similar now (less than 30), than before (more than 50);
    2. Most of the games being shown there are completely dissimilar to the ones they're supposed to be alike, whereas before all or the vast majority of the games were similar;
    3. The few games that are alike, are the same ones shown over and over everywhere, at the expense of all the other games that might deserve to be displayed as similar.

    I also wish to reiterate that this problem is affecting a very large number of developers with whom I've been in contact in the past few days.

    Thank you once more for your support and I hope to hear again from you.

    Best wishes,
    Alex


    Below this post you can see the screenshots that I attached to my latest reply.
     

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  17. unity_kN7mv-8iC2U98g

    unity_kN7mv-8iC2U98g

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    It's most likely an algo change. Could it be because of the GDPR compliance? Since google play has stopped suggesting users a lot of games based on their interests and previous history. There's the major difference and drop in organic traffic.
     
  18. xVergilx

    xVergilx

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    That's probably the case. Though it's still a huge hit taken by small indie projects.

    Time will show. I like how's Google current policy is complete F'you to developers and complete lack of transparency.
     
  19. Papatriz

    Papatriz

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    Same here.
    Kids education niche, installs droped from 1K to 0.5K. No change in search positions, stars, only positive reviews last time.
     
  20. Ak47-forever

    Ak47-forever

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    Type "Guns'
    Select first app
    Go to Similar
    Temple Run first

    How is this similar to guns?
     

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  21. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    I wouldn’t blame google, thier AI has become self aware and is only promoting games it likes. This is how humanity ends.
     
    Socrates and xVergilx like this.
  22. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    Yay, my game is in that list! Sadly it’s the old Major Mayhem... :(
     
  23. Ak47-forever

    Ak47-forever

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    It's all completely mess up when they delete Top New Apps section.
    I less use google play now then before. Maybe their analytics will show that new system is bad....
     
  24. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    My guess would be that they A/B tested it before rolling out the change, i wouldn’t be surprised if it creates a huge return for them in the short term. Maybe not in the long term when there’re only 30 viable apps left on the play store.
     
  25. johanesnw

    johanesnw

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    Got this problem too. 3k to 1k to 800 today, starting from 21.
    game : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gacogames.epiccon

    When this thread just started, I didn't notice any trouble in similar apps section.
    But yesterday, the similar app was a total mess (mostly little girl stuffs).
    I've checked other Action RPGs too, with same result in similar apps section.

    But when I checked just now, it turned to have a correct similar apps again.
    I don't know if it will change again tomorrow. :eek:
     
  26. xVergilx

    xVergilx

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    Rogue AI destroys thousand indie companies. Cyberpunk we all deserved.
     
  27. snoutup

    snoutup

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    "Similar games" got refreshed today and now it shows almost EXACT same list as it was on Sunday for me. So no progress yet. Yesterday at least it showed much more games, like that means anything...
     
  28. HeyNau

    HeyNau

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    After reading everything and without any clue about what's happening I want to give my info in case it helps:

    - 2 of my apps, in different accounts, went from 10k to 400 daily downloads.
    - My categories was Words and Trivia (One app each).
    - It happened to me 21th June (Thursday)
    - The 22th Friday daily downloads has been dropped to 50%, Satuday to 5%.

    Scared of that I renewed all my metadata, keywords, switched categories, logo, etc. (3 days after it seems to stay in 5%)

    Hope we can find something!

    (Note* Discord group invitation posted in the first page has expired)
     
    AxPetre likes this.
  29. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    When you click on this, you should be transferred to the discord channel:
    https://discordapp.com/channels/460685455088680980/460685455088680982
     
    AxPetre likes this.
  30. Butterbean21

    Butterbean21

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    If this is indeed an algorithm change, then it doesn't make any sense. In some kids games, inappropriate games directed at coupon savings, restaurant POS systems that are no way related to kids stuff is under the similar games section.

    Also, the games that are appearing under those sections don't necessarily have more reviews, or more installs than others that were featured before this change.

    It seems like a very messy algorithm change if that's what it is :/

    Everyone here needs to continue emailing about this. If things don't change by the end of the week, just keep on emailing them about it.

    Our particular leverage in this case is that kids games should not be featuring actual bank apps, and POS systems. That makes absolutely no sense as an algorithm change to target banking apps to children. Puleez.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  31. Soulman2150

    Soulman2150

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    Hi,
    I just want to share that I have also fallen victim to this drop in downloads. I have contacted Google and this is the response I've gotten

    Response:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for contacting Google Play Developer Support.

    I understand that you are seeing some drops in install count on your play console.

    In the recent weeks, you may begin to see changes in your app's metrics based on your users' deletion of data. Some metrics are calculated based on data from users who have agreed to share their data with developers in aggregate.

    The metrics that we provide in the Play Console are adjusted to more closely reflect data from all of your users. However, Google will not display data that falls under certain minimum thresholds.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions about using the Developer Console.

    Regards,
    Google Play Developer Support
     
  32. rjheklarjnator

    rjheklarjnator

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    Wait, this might be a stupid question, but might that mean that the downloads haven't actually dropped, but google is not "allowed" to show this data from users who haven't accepted new terms and stuff? How is that possible if that's the case and how can it affect revenue? Btw, same super drops issue on our company's end as well...
     
  33. Leonid

    Leonid

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    No, it is actual downloads drop, because Ads impressions and inapp revenue is dropped as well
     
  34. AxPetre

    AxPetre

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    Thanks for the info. I have updated the link with the one provided by @yourstoryinteractive.
     
  35. rjheklarjnator

    rjheklarjnator

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    That's true indeed, like I mentioned we also have the same problem and I 've seen the huge drop. But maybe is this all connected? Do the initial data come from Google anyway? So even ad networks metrics and such "ignore" users who refused to share data? I am not sure how this all works, so just asking
     
  36. mcarmani

    mcarmani

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    Hi. I am an indie game developer in Korea. I am also experiencing the same error. 1200 is now down to 70, and 3-400 is down to 50. I am alone and I am worried that these games are a means of livelihood and profits have fallen too far. If this problem is not resolved, I will have to make a new game and make a living. Is not Google so irresponsible? How can Google compensate for the profits that I've seen in the past, even if Google is restoring it? My head is too complicated. Hugh ..
     
  37. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    No one will compensate, unfortunately. All we can hope now is that the new algorithm is smart enough to get us our store visibility back.
     
  38. DevOlzhas

    DevOlzhas

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    Hello Developers.

    The same problem, I have 5 games. For all games installs are decreased for 2-3times.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  39. snoutup

    snoutup

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    Some people seem to think that current state of related apps is the final result of new algorithm doing it's job, when it's most likely either glitches or missing data causing all lists to be populated with placeholders of top games and editor choices, until the new data kicks in. It's progress, not the result. Unfortunately to us, this can take some time in a monstrocity which is Google Play, providing it works correctly and won't have to be rolled back.
     
    Butterbean21 likes this.
  40. einEntwickler

    einEntwickler

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    The "Similar apps" section for board games such as Solitaire and Chess seems to have been fixed. Let us hope it improves for other Categories as well.
     
    Butterbean21 likes this.
  41. Butterbean21

    Butterbean21

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    I think you are right on this. Maybe it's just a temp reset, and things will start to normalize again after the change they made. An algorithm change such as this one will take time to taper the results in.

    Also, this data issue could have been the culprit that caused things to reset right?

    Hopefully we start to see things normalize again, and no reason to panic just yet.
     
  42. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    One thing to note in case the algorithm is in "learn state" is that it learns from customers actions, which means it needs "days" if not "weeks" to learn enough data.
     
  43. AndreiKubyshkin

    AndreiKubyshkin

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    Hey Folks. I'm experiencing the same with my games, only I have 10x drop in downloads.
     
  44. PZ2100

    PZ2100

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    Just checked a few of the apps which seem to keep popping up in Similar apps everywhere:
    Subway Surfers - a ~20% increase in number of reviews lately
    Magic Tiles 3 - a 100% increase
    Temple Run 2 - 20% increase
    My Talking Angela - 15% increase
    Flow Free - 30% increase

    For the massive number of downloads that middle-class apps have lost, there isn't all that much gained by those at the top. Which suggests that users have stopped relying on "Similar Apps" section and must simply download fewer apps now.

    Some numbers:
    Talking Angela had approx 2.5k reviews on June 17 (Sunday) and 3k reviews on June 24 (also Sunday, but after the algo change).. It gained an average of 500 daily reviews.
    Assuming (very conservatively) that only 1 in 1000 users writes a review, one could say Talking Angela gained 500k daily downloads.

    My app lineup had combined 200k downloads per day and now fell to 40k. So, I've lost 160k daily downloads. But I'm not the only dev who lost. Talking Angela is shown in at least 10x or even 100x as many apps*installs as I own. Let's conservatively assume it's 10x. So, all in all, devs of apps similar to mine have lost 1.6m daily downloads. But this only converted to 500k Talking Angela installs.

    Well, there are other apps apart from Talking Angela which now clog the Similar Apps list and leech installs. But there is probably not 10x but closer to 100x (or even higher) factor I'd need to multiply my losses with to estimate the overall loss of my niche.

    It all kinda gives a feel that the loss of downloads of middle-class publisher is by far NOT off-set by the gain of downloads by the big publishers. And, overall, it must be a loss for Google because, even fairness aside, it's simply an inefficient re-distribution with a lot wasted on the way. Users simply NOT download what they see in Similar apps section and instead just close the store.

    If that's true, then Google would start noticing the drop already?
     
  45. yourstoryinteractive

    yourstoryinteractive

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    Thanks for the research.
     
  46. Dragonic89

    Dragonic89

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    Got an average of 300 installs per day until Sunday. Now it's ~10 >< ! That's a nightmare to see !

     
  47. PatrickKa

    PatrickKa

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    Same here. Dropped 85%. Was stable since 2015.

    relate.png
     
  48. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    For those who are seeing drops, what is your primary type of monitization strategy? Ads only? IAP? Premium?
     
  49. pep_dj

    pep_dj

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    Ads + IAP for remove Ads, in my case
     
  50. neufoctobre

    neufoctobre

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    Both Ads and IAP
     
  51. afftar

    afftar

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    One of game
     

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  52. Chikist

    Chikist

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    in-app purchase, AdMob banner, video advertising by appodeal, video advertising by vungle
     
  53. Jenzo83

    Jenzo83

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    Are your games not affected at all?
    How many different games?
    What categories are they in?
    What daily download ranges are we talking(10k, 25k, 100k, 1000k)?
    How much are you spending on advertising per title daily(1k, 10k, 25k)?

    It would really be helpful to know any of those rough figures from someone that is not affected at all by this.
     
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