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Serious game developers tripped up by App Store rules

If you're a developer hoping to raise awareness about a political or cultural issue with your app, you should read this article on serious game development from Polygon reporter Tracey Lien. Lien profiles several indie developers whose game titles were rejected because they were designed to inform users and not necessarily entertain. We've covered some of these high-profile rejections in the past, including Endgame:Syria and Sweatshop HD.

Lien talks to these developers about the challenges of working with Apple on these controversial titles. It brings to light the sometimes arbitrary nature of App Store rejections and Apple's refusal to reverse its decision when it has rejected a title.

In the case of Endgame:Syria, the game was repeatedly denied entrance to the iOS App Store because its Syrian conflict storyline violated an App Store policy prohibiting "content or features that include people from a specific race, culture, government, corporation, or other real entity as enemies in the context of the game."

Rawlings notes that this targeted group clause in the App Store is not enforced consistently. He points to games with a World War 2 theme that have the Nazis as a targeted enemy to illustrate the inconsistency of Apple in these bans. Rawlings battled Apple over his rejection, but finally gave up after his third app revision and even his appeal was denied. The developer ditched his original app and released Endgame: Eurasia, a game with a fictional war that was only a shell of the former Syrian title.

You can read about other app rejections in the Polygon article, and the chilling effect this broad ban hammer is having on game developers looking to change the world with their apps.

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