Satirical indie game Luck be a Landlord has been banned from the Google app store, Google Play, in 13 countries, according to developer TrampolineTales.
In a post on TrampolineTales’ website, developer Dan Dilorio announced that Google Play Support had banned the game because “Apps that simulate gambling, or games of chance or skill that are conducive to gambling are prohibited” in a range of countries (via GamesIndustry.biz).
Luck be a Landlord is a rogue-lite deck-building game that has you attempt to escape eviction by having you roll on a slot machine which you can then manipulate by unlocking groups of which you can choose in a manner reminiscent of many of the best roguelike games. According to its Steam page, this is all to “earn rent money and defeat capitalism”. The synopsis also notes that “this game does not contain any real-world currency gambling or microtransactions.”
In his blog post, Dilorio voiced his displeasure at Google’s decision to ban the game in 13 countries: The United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, South Korea, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Dilorio went on to state that he “100% disagrees with this decision” and that “by that logic, you could argue any game with an element of chance or luck violates Google’s Gambling policy.”
Despite a Tweet from Google initially implying that the “decision may have been made in error”, Dilorio went on to confirm in a subsequent Tweet that “Luck be a Landlord will still not be reinstated in those 13 countries on the Play Store. Ridiculous. I have no idea what to do.”
That said, the game remains available on Steam and iOS at time of writing.
Was told by @GooglePlayBiz that Luck be a Landlord will still not be reinstated in those 13 countries on the Play Store. Ridiculous. I have no idea what to do. https://t.co/7VI1IqzIBO pic.twitter.com/8UA17P7qv4August 20, 2023
The decision seems like an odd move by Google, since Luck be a Landlord explicitly sets out to satirize the kind of behavior that leads to policies that restrict gambling games in the first place.
As Dilorio noted in his blog post, titles like Jetpack Joyride and Dicey Dungeons, both of which use gambling motifs, microtransactions, and loot boxes, remain available on Google Play in these regions, demonstrating a confusing inconsistency on Google’s part.