[Update: Permanent] Google is temporarily suspending paid Chrome extensions
Following a series of fraudulent transactions, Google is temporarily suspending paid Chrome extensions from the Google Chrome extension store (via 9to5Google). Developers that have already published paid extensions, subscriptions, or in-app purchases and had their listing removed for “Spam and placement in the store” can apply to be reinstated.
Earlier this month the Chrome Web Store team detected a significant increase in the number of fraudulent transactions involving paid Chrome extensions that aim to exploit users. Due to the scale of this abuse, we have temporarily disabled publishing paid items. This is a temporary measure meant to stem this influx as we look for long-term solutions to address the broader pattern of abuse.
If you have paid extensions, subscriptions, or in app-purchases and have received a rejection for “Spam and Placement in the Store” this month, this is most likely the cause.
To publish an item that has been rejected, reply to the rejection email and request an appeal. You may be asked to republish your item, at which point the review should proceed normally. You must repeat this process for each new version while this measure is in place.
We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, but we do not have a resolution timeline at the moment. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Jan 27th, 2020 clarification: items that do not use the Chrome Web Store payments are not affected by this issue.
As it stands, it’s clear that this is only a temporary measure and will not be around for the foreseeable future. Developers can still re-apply to have their extension published, but it’ll be a more hands-on approach and annoying for developers to release updates. Free add-ons are unaffected. Extensions on third-party platforms should also be fine, as this measure only affects Chrome’s web store.
The company did not reveal how the system was currently being abused, though the company has always tried to improve its review process. It would appear that whatever fraudulent activity had been occurring was enough to push the company to suspend all paid Chrome extensions temporarily.
Update: Chrome Web Store payments deprecation
In an email sent to developers yesterday, Google announced that the Chrome Web Store payments system is now deprecated. On a web page, Google outlined the deprecation timeline for Chrome Web Store payments:
- March 27, 2020 Publishing of paid items temporarily disabled.
- September 21, 2020 You can no longer create new paid extensions or in-app items. This change, in effect since March 2020, is now permanent.
- December 1, 2020 Free trials are disabled. The “Try Now” button in CWS will no longer be visible, and in-app free trials requests will result in an error.
- Feb 1, 2021 Your existing items and in-app purchases can no longer charge money with Chrome Web Store payments. You can still query license information for previously paid purchases and subscriptions. (The licensing API will accurately reflect the status of active subscriptions, but these subscriptions won’t auto-renew.)
- At some future time The licensing API will no longer allow you to determine license status for your users.
If you’re still using Chrome Web Store payments system for your paid Chrome extensions, it’s time to migrate to an alternative payment-handling option. In addition, if you use Google’s licensing API to keep track of who has paid for your extension, you’ll need to implement another licensing API. More details on whether your Chrome extension is affected and how to export user licenses can be found here.