It is still possible to play the Public Beta of Smash MAGA on Android! Although Google has banned Smash MAGA from the Play Store, you can manually download and install the game’s APK file (you may have to allow Installation of Unknown or Other Apps inside of “Settings -> Security -> Apps and Notifications” (more detailed instructions)
Update: On September 2nd, Google responded to our appeal, claiming that Smash MAGA was rejected because it “currently depicts political violence”
In an era of growing fascist violence, tech monopolies like Google and Apple continue to deplatform antifascist voices.
After submitting the Public Beta of our upcoming game Smash MAGA! Trump Zombie Apocalypse to Google Play’s Open Testing program, Google has suspended and removed our game citing their “Sensitive Events” policy: “We don’t allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, health crisis, conflict, death, or tragic event”. We believe our game is in full compliance with their policies as explained below, and we are in the process of appealing this decision.
Apple had also previously banned Smash MAGA! from their App Store, claiming that MAGA is part of a “targeted group” and that they would never accept any application or game that features the January 6 Capitol Hill right-wing coup attempt. Unlike Android phones, in which you can still download and install applications outside of the official Play Store, Apple’s App Store monopoly effectively prevents any iPhone or iPad users from playing our game (although provide the .IPA download link to people who jailbreak their devices).
Additionally, Twitter has also “temporarily restricted” and “shadowbanned” the official @SmashMAGAGame account, most likely due to right-wing trolls mass-reporting our tweets.
Google did not provide any evidence or supplemental information pointing to where our game violates their Sensitive Events policy beyond attaching a screenshot of our title screen. Even without any specificity, we can speculate that the “sensitive event” they are referring to is either the COVID-19 pandemic or the January 6 Capitol Hill riots.
Google’s “Requirements for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Apps” has restrictions on apps that “provide medical treatment, vaccine, testing, or other related information”, “support COVID-19-related response, containment, research, or education/training efforts”, or “support services used to respond specifically to COVID-19”. These rules purportedly are designed to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation about COVID-19 from non-official applications. Smash MAGA! does not explicitly refer to COVID-19; instead, we portray a generalized zombie plague associated with the spreading of disinformation and the rise of fascism. As our game does not present itself as an official source of news, information or medical treatment for COVID-19, we are confident we are not violating any of these rules.
Google Play’s Sensitive Events policy provides examples of violations, including “lacking sensitivity regarding the death of a real person or group of people due to suicide, overdose, natural causes, etc”, “denying a major tragic event”, and “appearing to profit from a trafic event with no discernible benefit to the victims”. Our game is not lacking sensitivity regarding any deaths from, or denying the events of, or making any profit from portraying January 6 or the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, their policy states that apps are “generally allowed if that content has … artistic value”, which we believe would include clear satirical and artistic value and thus does not violate any of these policies.
If the Sensitive Events rejection is in reference to the January 6 riots, then Google joins Apple in banning games and applications that illustrate one of the most historic events of our era, one that highlights the dangers of the increasingly militant fascist movement incited by Trump and others in the GOP including Proud Boys and Oathkeepers who acted as paramilitaries in the attempted coup and the ongoing war on democracy. Furthermore, there are plenty of applications available on Google Play that platform these ultra-right wingers to spread their disinformation and hateful rhetoric which has directly led to violence on the street. Currently available for download on Google Play is MeWe, Gettr, Frank, Right Side Broadcasting Network, MAGA Chat, Newsmax, and others. You can download a hundred different apps that will feed you Trumpian lies and disinformation about the 2020 election as well as denial of the science behind essential health services like vaccinations and masks. People coordinated the Jan 6th insurrection in plain sight on some of these social media platforms, yet they are allowed to continue downloading and interacting with one another thanks to Google Play.
Additionally, there are plenty of games on the Google Play store that glorify violence or otherwise show a “lack of sensitivity”, particularly games that support military adventurism and imperialism. None of these games face censorship or scrutiny for their content, highlighting a double standard in what kind of violence is accepted. Are these also not insensitive, considering the millions of innocent casualties and the refugee crisis created by these useless and widely unpopular US-led wars?
It’s been established that the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat in the US are white supremacist groups, yet since January 6th there has been such little recourse against the fascist MAGA movement that the Proud Boys are once again regular features at far-right actions, instigating extreme and potentially deadly violence at nearly every incident. As covered recently in Democracy Now, stabbings, mace, paintball guns and other violent misogynistic attacks occur frequently at anti-vaccination and anti-mask rallies, including targeting journalists, counter-protesters, and random passersby alike. Police provide them protection while brutally suppressing antifascists and counter-protesters, making the State active participants in this ongoing and seemingly endless fascist insurrection. In fact, Proud Boys are returning to rally in DC for their ‘political prisoners’ on September 18th. The worst is yet to come.
Antifascists are the only ones who are actively working to stop these fascists beyond performative activism and symbolic condemnations. Yet liberal politicians and tech monopolies are undermining antifascist efforts through a misguided commitment to the false ideologies of “non-violence” and “free speech absolutism”. They often condemn “both sides” as if the conflict between freedom and fascism is simply a matter of everybody having a right to their opinion – a dangerous argument that has utterly failed in holding these white supremacists accountable which is why they continue to proliferate today. As history and experience has shown, fascism – much like a zombie apocalypse – will not die away on its own. It cannot be reasoned with, it must be confronted and uprooted before it is allowed to spread. Furthermore, who wouldn’t want to fight zombified Trump supporters invading and attacking the Capitol?
Smash MAGA – the first game to depict the January 6 Capitol Hill riots – is a legitimate artistic and satirical reflection of the alarming times we live in. We believe that not only is our game in compliance with the policies of Google Play and Apple’s App Store, but it is also on the right side of history. Despite big tech monopolies attempts to repress us, we will continue to make Smash MAGA! free available on a variety of platforms including Android, Linux, Mac OS, Windows, and iOS.
Smash MAGA! Trump Zombie Apocalypse is currently in Public Beta and is expected to be released for free on September 9 2021. Play the Public Beta of Smash MAGA! now!