Google has decided to slam the gavel down when it comes to Google Play Store ads that are full-screen and cannot be skipped after 15 seconds of playtime. While to some, this sounds like great news, it might just have an adverse effect on the hyper-casual gaming community.
Full-Screen Ads to be Blocked
Google announced that as of September 30, 2022, there will be new policies put in place for Android app developers. They state that this is being done to eradicate VPNs, full-screen ads, and fake apps that appear as real software. The main focus of this update to said policies is the full-screen ads, as they can become quite bothersome when they pop up in the middle of something important, such as playing a game. The change will prevent the ads from appearing during "unexpected" times, even though we are quite accustomed to this occurrence from many other apps we use daily.
This doesn't mean that devs are not allowed to use the full-screen ads whatsoever, since Google does allow them to be viewed by users who have opted in to view these forms of ads. For games that offer in-game currency, the devs are still able to implement full-screen ads that offer incentives for watching it completely through, which is good news. Full-screen ads are also permitted at more manageable times, such as at the end of a game's match or in between scrolling through content, but the ad must be skippable after 15 seconds of playtime if users did not opt-in to viewing these ads.
Google also took things a step further with its policy changes, as the FLAG_SECURE feature has been changed. This feature is used to either prevent or conceal screenshots in an attempt to hide sensitive data, as well as keep it from falling into the wrong hands. After September 30, 2022, developers will no longer be able to create a way to work around this feature, as google deems them necessary for the safety of the Play Stores users.
While some have taken this news happily, others are concerned that it may just destroy the hyper-casual gaming community. A tweet from Eric Seufert mentions that "Android accounts for something like 75% of HC installs globally". While this is not concrete information, if it is the case, that does have a direct negative effect on developers that are trying to get their name out there and build up a player base.
These policy changes are mostly positive and meant to keep the users happy, children's apps safe, and sensitive information under lock and key.