Google has been forced to suspend sales of Play Store apps in Russia

Google doodle for Russian Statehood Day 2016
Zoom in / Google doodle for Russian Statehood Day 2016

Google no longer offers paid apps or paid app updates to Russian users. A new support page – first spotted by 9to5Google – says: “Google Play is blocking the download of paid apps and updates to paid apps in Russia from May 5, 2022.”.

Many companies have voluntarily shut down their operations in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, but Google is making it clear that it is not stopping payments voluntarily in the country. In March, Google said it was forced to “pause” its billing system for users “due to payment system disruptions.” (Four major credit card companies voluntarily withdrew from Russia in March due to the invasion of Ukraine, which basically prevented Google from offering paid apps.) Now Google says blocking paid apps is “part of our compliance effort.”

The page says that “users cannot buy applications and games, pay a subscription or make any purchase of digital goods through the Google Play application in Russia.” Free apps will still be available, and paid apps you have already purchased will still be available for download and use, but all purchases will now display an error message. Subscriptions will not be renewable and will be canceled. Since Google only deals with the lack of credit card processing, it says developer payments to Russian developers will continue.

Google has a blog post summarizing his efforts to help Ukraine, but continuing to do business in Russia makes him remarkable in high technology. Microsoft, Apple, Intel and nearly 1,000 other companies have left Russia, while Google was accused in a recent Forbes article of being “Putin’s most obedient American technical censor.” One of the reasons why Google could be aligned with Russia is that the country has one of the world’s most competitive search markets. Google search ranks second in Russia, just behind Russia’s largest technology company Yandex. If Google leaves or is kicked out of the country, it risks losing the market altogether.

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