Google is blocking users in Russia from purchasing or updating paid applications as the fallout continues from the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The company paused billing for Russian users on 10 March 2022 due to sanctions imposed on the country. That decision impacted new app purchases, as well as in-app purchases and subscription payments.
However, Google has now updated its policy and says that it is “blocking the downloading of paid apps and updates to paid apps in Russia starting May 5, 2022.”
The reason given for the change in policy is “compliance efforts”.
Users can still access any paid apps that have already been downloaded. Free apps are unaffected by the policy change and users can still download and update them as usual. Google is disabling the Top Paid and Top Grossing charts for now but the Top Free will still be available.
Any existing subscriptions will continue to be available until the end of their current billing period. However, the subscription won’t be able to be renewed.
Developers can opt to extend the grace periods for existing subscribers to access content after their billing period ends for up to 30 days in Play Console. For longer periods, developers can defer a user’s renewal for up to one year with the Google Play Developer API.
New free apps can continue to be published in Russia, as can updates, but anything paid is a no-go due to the current sanctions.
In response to a theoretical question about what to do if an app offers a critical service to users that keep them safe and provides access to information, Google says: “If you wish, you can choose to offer your app for free or remove your paid subscription during this pause.”
Until Russian troops leave Ukraine’s territory and sanctions begin lifting, Android developers shouldn’t expect to see any further revenue from users in Russia.
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