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Background

I was playing a multiplayer version of a game, in which character progress is "automatically saved on the cloud" (as the app states).

However, I never had a Play Games profile, so when the game prompted me to use my Play Games account the first time I tried to enter the Multiplayer, I clicked "Cancel". However the game proceeded normally to the multiplayer. And so I played for weeks without any problems, despite not using any Play Games profile.

Last week though, I uninstalled and re-installed the app, using the same Google account (in Google Play) as I always used for this app. Then when I opened the game, it started all over again.

It's as if the "linkage" to my online progress was saved on a local file in my device, that was deleted when I uninstalled the app. However, I think that the progress is indeed uploaded to some servers somewhere, since I tried to use the same username when I started a new multiplayer testing character and I got a message saying that the username is already being used.

I contacted the support but they told me that there is no way to get my progress back for some unknown reason. I'm still waiting for an answer though.

Questions

  • Question #1: What's the usual practice for games that back the players' progress online? Don't they store the data to some private servers that they have complete access to (meaning having read/write access to the database)?

  • Question #2: Assuming the progress is already in servers that the company has access to, what could be a technical reason that getting my progress back is not possible? I suggested that they could replicate the data to a new character I make, or even changing a foreign key somewhere in a table that relates the saved progress with a Play Games account. Doesn't that sound reasonable? After all, the data is still there, they are not lost.

  • (Answered) Question #3: I thought that an app's data stayed on the device even after the app is uninstalled. Judging from the above experience, this isn't true. Or is it? If it is, is there any way I can get the lost files back? Could they be somehow.

Generally, what do you people think about the support's response to my issue? Doesn't what I'm asking sound feasible?

Thanks in advance.

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    Related. TLDR: The data is most likely deleted and not recoverable. – GiantTree Jun 27 '17 at 19:08
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Answer 1

The usual practice for games backing up users' progress online is storing almost everything on the company's own private server, while storing a small "identity" file on device (much like Cookies in a browser), or use device's identifier / your Play Games identity directly. The company's employees (not all of them, but at least the development and support teams) have access to their storage.

Answer 2

Continuing Answer 1, there's no way for you to prove that you're the owner of the deleted profile, and the company don't want to get into trouble if you claim another player's profile. This is a bad practice because (probably) the game does not use device identifier.

Answer 3

As GiantTree has already pointed out in comments, you should check out this post.

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