Google has temporarily suspended paid extensions from the Chrome Web Store. The move comes in response to a recent increase in fraudulent transactions involving the paid extensions. Simeon Vincent, Extensions Developer Advocate at Google, announced the decision on the Chromium Extensions forum over the weekend. This is a temporary shutdown that'll act as a stopgap until Google finds a long-term solution.
"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," Vincent said in the announcement post.
Vincent didn't clarify as to how the fraud was being carried out through those shady Chrome extensions. However, the issue was big enough for Google to remove all paid extensions that use the Chrome Web Store payments.
Extensions using third-party payment platforms or relying on payment via their own website are not affected by this temporary shutdown. Free add-ons also remain safe from the ban.
Developers may request an appeal
This move by Google not just prevents fraudulently paid extensions from entering the Chrome Web Store, but also suspends the existing items.
Vincent says developers whose extensions, subscriptions, or in-app purchases have been rejected for "Spam and Placement in the Store" this month could likely be because of this change in policy. Such developers can reply to the rejection email and request an appeal to have their items reinstated.
Developers may be required to republish their items, at which point Google may decide to approve them after a normal review process.
Unfortunately, this finicky process must be repeated for every single version update while this fraud block is in place. Of course, this doesn't guarantee that the extension will be reinstated.
Comments on the Google Groups thread suggest that many legitimate developers' accounts have been suspended as well.
They have been provided with an account reinstatement form to appeal the suspension. Paid Chrome Web Store extension developers may well have to wait until this mess is cleaned up.
What's worse? Google doesn't appear to have a timeline for a fix at the moment. "We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, but we do not have a resolution timeline at the moment," Vincent said in the post.