Apple rejects game about Palestine because political messages disqualify games from consideration

[Read the post]


Maybe wouldn’t be the worst thing if the Justice Dept. looked into the policies a bit more. Yeah yeah, I know, this isn’t a constitutional freedom of speech issue per se, however, there is a de facto role that Apple plays in censorship of an entirely new content medium, and their insistence that “Apps are different than books or music or movies” seems, well, ridiculous at best, from a content censorship perspective at least.


… adding to the problem is that Apple enforces US puritan moral judgements even outside the US Applestore. Boobs or being naked are not a big thing (pun intended) over here but Apple adheres to the US moral viewpoint violence=good/nekkid=bad.


As is so commonly the case, Apple is using “political” here to mean “espousing politics other than my own.”


Wait, does this mean they can submit the game as a news app and have it be accepted?


1 Like

What makes this an extra-special masterpiece of consistency is that This War of Mine has an iOS port, presumably by virtue of being set in a lightly fictionalized version of a war with minimal current foreign policy relevance; but is a pretty clear demonstration that ‘harrowing survival sims that suggest that war isn’t so hot for civilians’ are in fact games even for Apple’s purposes. Except when they aren’t.


Apple is about as respectable a moral gatekeeper as Wal-Mart with a somewhat wealthier customer base; but I suspect that there is a fairly logical and pragmatic reason for their distinction between ‘apps’ and books/music/movies:

With an ‘app’, odds are pretty decent that it’s iOS only(or at least iOS first with some other platforms playing catch-up), since iOS has a pretty commanding position in the mobile applications market, especially for heavyweight stuff that makes hardware consistency valuable or where the asking price is comparatively high. Even if it isn’t a platform exclusive, there is no non-Apple source for iOS apps: If an app is in the app store, Apple Inc. is directly responsible for that and has only the weaksauce must-have-been-a-pesky-peon-acting-contrary-to-policy excuse.

For movies, music, and books; Apple sells them; but it is both reasonably easy to buy them from non-Apple sources and use them on iDevices; and all of those markets have assorted non-Apple entities who have become widely accepted as being the ratings dealers or the moral gatekeepers. It’s much easier for Apple to simply say that “We offer the same selection as comparable retailers; and support filtering music flagged with a Tipper sticker and sorting movies by MPAA rating; don’t blame us, blame The Market.” without being especially weaselly. It’s largely true that Apple just carries the same stock, minus any exclusives that aren’t theirs, as anyone else; and they do offer tools for moral-arbiter filtering; and if you can’t get it in the Apple store you can get it from Amazon.

There is the ESRB for video games; but (while it has staved off the worst of the kneejerk reactions) it has limited traction(People typically refrain from taking small children to R-rated films and then crying about how inappropriate the content was; but games rated Teen or Mature get plunked in front of kids all the time, and complaints about how age-inappropriate the brutal-but-clearly-marked murder simulators are are nearly as common) and the substantial majority of mobile titles are too small scale to deal with the ESRB process and are never actually rated.

None of this makes Apple a good gatekeeper; but I think that Apple’s reasons for playing gatekeeper in software while (mostly, I’m not sure that they actively stock the finest in National Socialist Black Metal; but their catalog is a comparatively unmodified passthrough of whatever they can license) washing their hands of other media are logical enough.

More important is that Apple contends that it should be a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a $500,000 fine to distribute tools to let people switch which app store they use with their Ios devices.


question: do developers have a way of getting pre approval from apple before they invest the considerable time and money into developing an ios app?

1 Like

Suitably high profile outfits might be able to get something by special request(I assume that something like the XCom port didn’t happen without some sort of conversation); but I’ve never heard of a mechanism that just any lowly cod-groveller is allowed, aside from a curt reference to Apple’s vague guidelines and hoping for the best.


One of the comments at Play stood out for me:

Makes me wonder, Israeli comment perhaps? The term “Palestine” is used pretty-much exclusively in the United States, whereas in Israel the term is almost always “Arab Israeli.” Because if you deny someone’s name then you can more easily deny their existence.



Either right-wing Israeli, or AIPAC shill.


To be fair, that’s pretty much always what calling things ‘political’ means.

  • You’re politicizing this = I disagree with your politics

This is the same Apple that thought they would be given exclusive control over the digital book industry.


1 Like

I’m confused by this… No one I’d come across in Israel had any problem using the term “פלסטיני” (Hebrew for “Palestinian”) when I was living there.

Hence the need to insist on not painting the Israeli in too broad a brush. Israel is a complicated country, politically and culturally.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.