Google Steals Donations from Project Zomboid

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Project Zomboid, the zombie survival RPG by indie devs The Indie Stone, is looking to be a pretty exciting title for fans of the living dead. It’s logical to assume that some of these same fans would want to support its development through pre-orders and donations then. This is exactly what had been happening over at the Project Zomboid site for a while now. Due to cautionary tales from other indie developers, the guys at Indie Stone decided to set up both a PayPal and a Google Checkouts account for people to send monetary donations along with their pre-orders. The donations weren’t mandatory but if a fan decided he or she wanted to support the development they were free to do so. Pretty standard stuff in the indie scene.

That is until Indie Stone realized that Google hadn’t given them any of their cash yet after about a month of donations. This was followed by a notice from Google informing the team that they would need to remove the Google Checkouts tool from their site and stop taking donations through Google’s service. This was the only information provided to the team. This left quite a few questions in the air, as the devs put it, “Does it get refunded? Do Google hoard it indefinitely? Do we get it some day? We find zero information on this no matter how deep we look, and no way to contact them”.

After a bit of hunting, Google Checkouts was finally able to be contacted and a long, explanatory email was written detailing the situation. Unfortunately, Google responded simply with a stock response that didn’t correct or explain anything, leaving the team still without its money or any answers. At this point, Google still holds all of the donation funds and it is unclear whether or not they will be forwarded to Indie Stone, returned to customers, or just held in a state of limbo for the rest of time. While one would hope that Google would clear up such a situation quickly, it appears that the community needs to get the word out there in order to initiate action on the corporation’s part. For now, fans interested in Project Zomboid should head over to the site and pre-order it…just make sure to use PayPal.

  • Geeze once again Google doing what they do best. Ripping people off, they do a great job at it with Google Ads as well. Customers build up large amounts of cash then when its time for Google to cough up the cash they magically suspend the customers accounts, providing no feedback but a default email stating that the site does not fit or follow googles “guidelines”

    Is pathetic. We hope that this might change moving forward but im not holding my breath. Lets hope that Indie Stone get their money as they deserve it for all their hard work.

    • honestbleeps

      Hate to ruin your google-hate-rant, but I know from experience exactly what happened…

      Google’s Terms of Service explicitly state that “Donations” are not allowed on their service. They equate the word “Donation” with charity, and if you’re not a registered charity, you’re not supposed to be soliciting Donations via google checkout.

      If you simply change your terminology to “pay what you want”, or “tip jar”, or something that doesn’t imply charity, Google doesn’t have a problem with it.

      I do think that it’s a bit heavy handed, and that they expect a bit too much detailed reading of their terms of service (let’s just be honest, who reads them in their entirety AND comprehends them entirely?)… however, once I talked with Google and changed my use of the word “Donation” to “Pay what you want” or “Purchase”, they un-suspended my account and all was well.

      • Cellophane Girl

        I suspected this was probably the case. Hopefully they can just change the wording and get the money that is in “limbo” right now.

      • fpw

        Right…

        And because it’s in their TOS, that makes it somehow appropriate for Google to deposit the money without refunding it?

        GTFO, really.

        It’s greed in the most pure sense of the word, covered by a blanket of corporate paperwork that legitimizes extorting money from an up and coming indie operation that made the mistake of not reading a 200 page document that people probably click straight through every 6 seconds.

  • Zowwerz

    That looks so good as well..

  • Anonymous

    Sensationalist headline much?

    I’m sure it was just a mistake.

    • Chris Cerami

      If you mean that it was an accident, then no it was intentional by Google. They need to address the way they deal with these types of situations.

    • Don Stone

      No flipping way. Google makes a living stealing from the poor.

  • Cellophane Girl

    Not cool google, not cool at all.

  • Adgar the Barbarian

    You write:

    “We find zero information on this no matter how deep we look, and no way to contact them”

    Did you ever try googling “Google Checkout Donations”? If you had, the *very second result* is:

    https://checkout.google.com/support/sell/bin/answer.py?answer=72721

    You can use Google Checkout to collect donations if you:

    * Are based in the United States.
    * Represent a valid 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization.
    * Clearly display your organization’s tax-exempt status on your website.
    * Complete the verification process.

    **Important:** Your account may be suspended if you’re accepting donations via Google Checkout, but you do not represent a valid 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization.

    You guys don’t appear to be a legitimate non-profit. You probably should have read the rules.

  • what the hell, they’d betteer cough up to one side fo the parties. stick with this one guys.

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