Mar 18th, 2013

Every now and then, a couple of fraudulent apps and games find their way onto the Google Play Store. It’s an unfortunate recurrence in an ecosystem that’s as open as the Play Store is, and the only way to truly protect yourself is to be amply advised on what to do when you see these apps. The latest victims to this situation are Disney’s Temple Run: Oz and Subway Surfers.

The games are being offered for “free” (even though the real Subway Surfers is free) under the guise that these aren’t the actual games, but links to the actual games. Despite that shady disclaimer it’s wise to stay far away from these listings. For starters, there might be some form of spyware or malware injected into these apps doing who knows what to your phone and who knows what with your information.

On top of that, users should always look to support the original developers by downloading their applications directly. If you can’t spare the $.99 for Temple Run: Oz (again, Subway Surfers is FREE) or simply don’t have a way to pay for it then it’s better to just go without it. Now’s as good a time as any to remind you to pay close attention to what you’re downloading in the Play Store. Here are a few quick tips to remember:

  • Check the package name. You might not know what the real package name is supposed to be, but these fraudulent apps tend to have similar naming schemes, and seeing two different games from two different companies with the same scheme is usually a dead giveaway.
  • Check the developers’ name and page. If you click on the developer of an app and you see a bunch of different games from a bunch of different companies, it’s a good chance that particular developer is not legit. If you’re not sure what other games a developer or studio has then you can typically find out on their website. If all else fails, get the link straight from them.
  • Check reviews and ratings, release date, and download numbers. This isn’t always a very good way of figuring out what is and isn’t legit — after all, the two apps mentioned in this article have a ton of 5-star ratings and positive reviews — but you can typically expect a legit game to have a lot more reviews, a lot more downloads, and exist on the Play Store a lot longer than the fraudulent app. Knowing Temple Run: Oz came out earlier this month, the release date of March 17th for the fraudulent version is another dead giveaway.

There are other things to keep in mind, but by following these main points you should be able to find safe passages through the Google Play Store. Alongside steering clear of downloading these apps, you should also report them to Google — the more people complain about an app, the more likely it is that Google will flag it and remove it from the Play Store in a timely manner. You can do that using the Google Play Store app on your phone (though now’s a good time to remind Google that a report function on the Play Store website is desperately needed).

[Temple Run: Oz FAKE, Subway Surfers FAKEThanks Greg!]

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