STORY UPDATE: Web developer Supreme Studios has had a change of plan since this story was first published.
It issued a statement to Newshub saying, "Gang members have now gone to death threats and we have received images of gang members wielding firearms."
As a result, it says its original plan to republish the Mongrel Mob Defence app will not happen and it will no longer release a follow-up app called Black Power Defence.
"We will not be republishing the app and there will be no follow-up titles."
The creators of a controversial smartphone game featuring a dead Mongrel Mob member are standing by the app.
Supremacy, a formerly little-known app developer, launched a new app on Friday called Mongrel Mob Defence. The game, which was available on Google Play, allowed players to pose as a member of the aforementioned gang and protect their territory from rival gang Black Power.
The app was immediately criticised for promoting gang violence. Supremacy was especially vilified for using an image of deceased Mongrel Mob member William Hurinui - known as Greco - as the face of one of the game's avatars.
In an email, Supremacy told Newshub that much of the criticism directed towards the app is unfair, and claim that actual gang members have no problem with it.
"We have had a few patch members play the game for themselves and often they will just laugh and shake their head in disbelief," they said.
"One patch member even rated the application 5 stars. Thankfully the majority absolutely love it."
Supremacy admits they made a "huge mistake" in their decision to use Greco's image.
"It was the first suitable image in the Google search results that fitted our design teams concept and we have sent an apology to the immediate family of William Hurinui," they said.
"The development studio had no knowledge of who William Hurinui was or that he had passed away, and wasn't expecting it to negatively effect [sic] the lives of his family and cause outrage."
A Black Power member has also said that Supremacy used his image in the app without permission. The developers say they were unaware of his complaints, and that the game will be updated again "if need be".
In response to the controversy, Supremacy changed the character's image to that of Alf Stewart, a popular character from Home and Away.
They're also inviting users to submit photos of themselves to feature in the app's next update.
Mongrel Mob Defence has since been removed from Google Play, but Supremacy says it's not because of the Greco controversy, but rather "disruptive ads".
Google's rules state that ads "should not be shown in a way that results in inadvertent clicks", and that developers who disobey may be penalised.
Supremacy told Newshub in an email that they don't believe the app violated Google's ad policy and that they have submitted an appeal.
They also say the company's name has been misinterpreted by people such as former gang member Denis O'Reilly, who told Newshub he wondered if the developer was "some white organisation from America".
The company's original name was Soundboard Studios, before it was changed to Supremacy which the developers say "had a nice ring to it".
"It has since unintentionally been received negatively by a slim few and seen as a statement or affiliation to 'White Supremacy' which is not true and completely unintended."
They will be changing the company name once again to Supreme Studios, "to avoid far-fetched allegations in future".