Apple's iOS App Store is by far the market leader when it comes to downloadable applications for smartphones and tablets. That's no surprise, considering the iPhone is arguably what created the entire mobile market in the first place. Navigating the iOS store, many would agree, is also a more pleasant experience than its competition thanks to Apple's heavy curation and strict guidelines for submission.
But its those same strict guidelines that have sometimes stuck in the craw of developers trying to get their applications approved. There have been stories in the past about apps getting arbitrarily rejected, and now it seems that some game developers are having this problem with certain types of titles.
Several developers speaking to Pocket Gamer said that Apple has started to reject new game applications and even updates to existing titles if the screenshots feature guns or someone getting shot or killed. Developer OrangePixel, who make the mobile title GunSlugs II, had to fight Apple after the company rejected an update because the screenshot featured tiny pixelated people getting killed.
Another dev, Team Chaos, reported that it had to change the original icon for its game, Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens, because it originally featured a character holding a NES Zapper gun. Apparently, Apple isn't a fan of Duck Hunt.
The strangest story, though, may belong to developer Splash Damage. The company was forced to pixelate the guns in the screenshots for its game Tempo in order to get approved. The reason this is strange is because Tempo was selected as an Editor's Choice game by Apple, and therefore prominently promoted on the App Store prior to the change.
Does Apple Hold Too Much Power?
The concerns here are twofold. First, this new policy about "no guns or violence" does not seem to be universally applied. There are plenty of games still on the App Store that feature violence or guns in the screenshots. Gang Nations, a Clash of Clans clone, features characters holding AK-47s. Another game called Bullet Rush has characters holding sniper rifles in its screenshots, and is still on the App Store. It would appear Apple is only flagging existing games for violence or guns once the developer submits a new update for approval. It's perhaps understandable that Apple doesn't want to spend the time combing through the entire existing catalog, but the fact that developers are being punished just because they want to update their game and improve the user experience seems dubious.
The second concern here is pretty straightforward: censorship is never a positive thing. Apple certainly has its heart in the right place, as its likely trying to protect the many younger gamers that use its service, but they may not be going about it the right way. It does set them apart from the competition, as the Android/Google Play store has a number of titles that are sexual or risque in nature. That being said, every time a company adds something to the list of things it will censor, one has to wonder where it will stop.
This also continues a long running trend of video games getting punished for featuring the same kind of content that is readily available in many TV shows and movies. Two of the current top 10 movie downloads on Apple's store, for example, are John Wick and The Equalizer. The cover photos for these titles feature Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington holding guns. Make of that what you will.
GunSlugs II is available on PC, Ouya, the Apple App Store and Google Play. Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens is available for PC, the Apple App Store and Google Play. Tempo is exclusive to the Apple App Store.
Source: Pocket Gamer