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Apple’s Approach To Game Preservation Is Crippling The App Store

Removing “outdated” apps and games has developers worried

Apple App Store game preservation developers
Source: image created by the author.

Dubbed an “App Improvement Notice” by Apple, the Cupertino giant appears to be purging apps from the App Store that don’t receive updates.

While the trillion-dollar firm’s motives may be noble, app developers are asking Apple to see reason. Apple gives developers 30 days to update their apps or risk getting dropped from the App Store. Any previously downloaded apps will remain on users’ devices but they will no longer be on the Store if the devs don’t update them.

@apple is removing a few of my old games b/c they have “not been updated in a significant amount of time”
Games can exist as completed objects! These free projects aren’t suitable for updates or a live service model, they’re finished artworks from years ago.
- Em on Twitter

App makers like Protopop Games developer Robert Kabwe are worried that their apps, however complete they may be, are at risk of getting de-platformed. The creator of the FlickType Keyboard raises a valid concern: the once-viral game Pocket God hasn’t received updates in 7 years but gets off scot-free. Other creators share the same fear as Robert.

With an unannounced purge, Apple alienates the very indie devs it wishes to befriend.

I received an email this morning saying the same about one of my apps, it hasn’t got any crash reports, still gets downloads after 5 years, doesn’t need a v2 and Apple decide it’s time to go due to swift version changes I don’t have time to push a meaningful change
- Simon Barker on Twitter

Apple App Store game preservation developers
The email received by Protopop Games. Source: Twitter.

Can apps and games not exist as complete versions of themselves?

Apple seems to have shot itself in the foot with the unreasonable demand of asking developers to update experiences that are already complete for their intended audiences. Being taken off the App Store is a consequence that could devastate the livelihoods of developers big and small. With the uproar in the dev community, I hope Apple listens.

Apple’s “App Store Improvements” page sheds little light on the matter.

While this isn’t the first time Apple has resorted to pulling outdated apps from its App Store, it remains to be seen if Apple has been enforcing its policies across the years. With videogame preservation being a point of contention among console makers Microsoft and Sony, it’s surprising that the same cannot be said of mobile app stores. A digital storefront clearing its “clutter” is bad news for developers moving from established apps to new projects.

Games from decades ago remain playable on consoles and PCs.

It’s a matter of concern that mobile app stores deviate from this standard.

Sure, not many people want to download beer drinking apps and age-old games in 2022. But Apple’s history as a digital storefront is at risk of being diluted if it doesn’t respect its developers and creators. The next generation of mobile apps should be able to sit alongside the past’s greatest hits.

And Apple isn’t the only platform to blame.

Google has made its intentions clear as well: conform to two-year-old API levels or risk limited visibility across the Play Store. I hope the concerns voiced by the devs spur Google and Apple to find an alternative that benefits all parties. With developers being questioned on both sides, indie devs will have to revisit their stable of apps if they don’t want to risk losses or worse, being de-platformed.



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Antony Terence

Antony Terence

0.2M+ views. 5x Top Writer. Warping between games, tech, and fiction. Yes, that includes to-do lists. Words in IGN, Kotaku AU, SUPERJUMP, The Startup, and more.