Apple puts pressure on independent developers

In an email sent by Apple to several developers, the Apple brand imposes an ultimatum on them. During April, creators of applications received this same message in a cold tone: ” If no update is submitted within 30 days, the app will be removed from sale. The independent developers, who have limited means, protest against this news which is unfair, imprecise and which, according to them, comes too late.

Too evasive communication from Apple

Titled “App Improvement Notice”, the message sent by Apple requests the removal of applications that have not been updated for a “significant period of time”, without giving a specific duration. Apps that won’t be updated, but have already been downloaded, will still be available to users who own them. Otherwise they will simply disappear from the App Store. Apple does not give more details in its email, which causes many developers to misunderstand.

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The Verge dug into the question and reports that Tim Cook’s company had already communicated in 2016 on the removal of abandoned applications. On a page of the official Apple website, the brand broadcasts this message concerning the policy of the App Store: ” We have an ongoing process of reviewing apps and removing apps that no longer work as intended, don’t meet current review criteria, or are outdated. »

The very strong ambiguity conveyed by Apple in this message concerns the use of the term “obsolete”, the exact meaning of which for applications is never specified. Unable to know when this page was updated and therefore to determine when Apple’s policy on app removal changed.

Has the Californian company applied this system for several years, or are the many developer testimonials proof of a very recent implementation of this new policy? In 2021, the company had already had 224,000 apps removed, mostly aimed at children, for privacy reasons.

A complex situation for independent developers

Robert Kabwe, founder of indie company Protopop Games, behind several games on the App Store, is likely to see one of them, Motivoto, vanish. The developer explains through a long Twitter thread why Apple’s policy is counterproductive, even inapplicable, for independent creators who have little means.

According to him, ” Updates take time and effort. Removing working games should be done for good reasons, which must be communicated clearly, specifically and as soon as possible. A criticism of Apple’s very evasive communication. He adds that ” most developers want to update their games and I’ve never met a lazy developer. On the contrary, many are motivated by the passion that pushes them to work well beyond a reasonable number of hours. »

It also specifies that the withdrawal request date varies from one application to another, and this is totally random. His game Motivoto has not been updated for three years while another developer, Kosta Eleftherioudiscovered that another game, Pocket Godis still present on the App Store despite the last version being seven years old.

The right for a video game to be a finished work

Robert Kabwe reminds us that developing a game is a real headache, ” the games are made using several software programs that all depend on each other. For example, the current version of the App Store requires Xcode 13 software, which needs macOS Big Sur to run and which in turn requires the latest version of Unity. Having to update your game regularly is extremely complex since the software that allows you to create them evolves very quickly, even after a year.

For her part, the developer Emilia Lazer-Walker, also reports on Twitter to have received the famous message from Apple. According to her, this approach is intolerable because “ video games have the right to exist as complete objects! These free games are not suitable for a model that requires regular updates and monitoring. These are works of art that have been finished for several years. »

It designs the production and distribution of these games in a way that no longer corresponds to Apple policy. ” Most of the games I’ve released are currently unplayable because I tend to release them on experimental platforms. I’m used to the fact that the reason my games disappear is because the distribution platform is shut down, not because some company thinks the old stuff is obsolete. For the moment, Apple has not officially responded to the discontent and concerns of developers.

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