- Google recently removed a mobile game about the Hong Kong protests from its Google Play app store.
- The Wall Street Journal reports the company removed the app after Hong Kong police asked that it be pulled.
- Google denies this and says the game's developers were trying to capitalize on the Hong Kong protest conflict, which violates its policies. The company told Business Insider the game wasn't pulled because of a takedown request from the Chinese government or the Hong Kong police.
- Google's move is one in a string of controversial moves surrounding the Hong Kong protests by US companies, including Apple and US game developer Activision Blizzard.
- US companies are being accused of censoring or removing content to appease the Chinese government, which controls access to the China's massive and lucrative market.
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Google recently removed a mobile game from its app store that allowed players to simulate the experience of being a protester in Hong Kong. According to The Wall Street Journal's Tripp Mickle, Jeff Horwitz, and Yoko Kubota — who say they've seen documents related to the app's removal — the company pulled the app after Hong Kong police asked.
Google is now pushing back at that report, telling Business Insider it didn't remove the app at the request of the Chinese government or Hong Kong police. Google says it removed the game, called "The Revolution Of Our Times I," because it violated the company's policy toward developers that capitalize on sensitive events, like ongoing conflicts and tragedies.
"We have a long-standing policy prohibiting developers from capitalizing on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game," a Google spokesperson told Business Insider. "After careful review, we found this app to be violating that particular policy and suspended it, as we have done with similar attempts to profit from other high-profile events such as earthquakes, crises, suicides and conflicts.
The game's removal is among a string of controversial moves by US companies surrounding the Hong-Kong protests. The controversy surrounds the notion that US companies are appeasing the Chinese government, which essentially controls a company's access to China's massive and lucrative market.
The Hong Kong Free Press on Thursday claimed that 80% of the profits from the game were being pledged to Spark Alliance, a legal fund for arrested protesters. The pledge was supposedly in the game's description when it was still available in the Play Store. It's unclear where the remaining 20% of the profits were going.
Apple has also drawn criticism after it rejected, approved, and then removed a mapping app on Thursday called HKMap.live that detailed the movements of Hong Kong police. Conversely, the Android version of HKMap.live remains in the Google Play Store.
On Tuesday, US game developer Activision Blizzard came under fire when it sent a professional esports player home from a tournament and handed him a 12-month ban after he voiced support for Hong Kong protesters during a postgame interview.