It’s an often overlooked fact that, with the App Store just over one year old, Apple has become one of the most important players in the gaming industry, almost overnight. With the App Store, Apple is at the forefront of digital distribution, bypassing retail altogether and handing small studios the opportunity to publish their own titles to a mass audience for the first time in their existence.
Apple now holds the keys to the castle for many developers out there, but it’s not without its critics when it comes to the titles it does or does not let onto the App Store.
‘Apple’s goals remain aligned with customers and developers–to create an innovative applications platform on the iPhone and iPod Touch and to assist many developers in making as much great software as possible for the iPhone App Store,’ Apple’s senior VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, said in an open letter to the Apple enthusiast blog Daring Fireball, in response to claims that Apple had acted out of hand when it came to dictionary app Ninjawords.
“While we may not always be perfect in our execution of that goal, our efforts are always made with the best intentions, and if we err we intend to learn and quickly improve,” he concluded.
In the case of Ninjawords, while some had claimed Apple had ordered the title to be censored and then slapped on a 17+ rating regardless, Schiller stated that no such steps had been taken. “Apple did not ask the developer to censor any content in Ninjawords, the developer decided to do that themselves in order to get to market faster. Even though the developer chose to censor some terms, there still remained enough vulgar terms that it required a parental control rating of 17+.”
Ninjawords aside, Apple has increasingly come in for criticism regarding what can and can’t be run on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Google’s Voice app was recently pulled, reportedly because it allowed people to make free calls and send free SMS messages–features that obviously wouldn’t have pleased the many mobile networks the iPhone is tied to around the globe.
But games, too, come with their own minefields. There are plenty of of retro-esque titles on the App Store that run the risk of being pulled should they stray too close to existing games, not to mention titles such as ‘Baby Shaker’–where gamers were encouraged to silence a baby by shaking their phone–that cross all kinds of moral lines.
Indeed, the fact that almost anyone can make an iPhone title means the floodgates are effectively open. Apple, a relative newcomer in this field, now has control of one of the most important gaming markets on the globe, dealing with all kinds of apps from all corners of the planet. It’s unlikely that titles like Whack-a-Cripple would ever make it as far as Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony’s review boards, yet Apple finds itself having to monitor and control all manner of games, all at once.
Schiller’s admission that Apple isn’t perfect, therefore, is understandable and only right, but it’s unlikely that he’ll win as much favor when the next app everyone’s crazy about gets pulled without notice.
[from Ars Technica]