Strap in for the silliest news story you'll likely read today: Per a recent tweet, Terry Cavanagh, developer of Super Hexagon [$2.99] had Don't Look Back rejected by Apple's App Store approval process. Backing this up a bit, Don't Look Back is a side scrolling adventure-y type game that was originally released back in 2009, and like his other titles is gloriously retro complete with super blocky pixel art. Check out the trailer:


It turns out Apple has an issue with the iTunes description that Terry bundled with his game. Viewable on the Android market, Don't Look Back's description reads:

A game about fantasy.
Don't Look Back is a short game I made in 2009. 

This is a completely free game, not "free to play"; there are no in-app purchases or any of that nonsense.

Apparently, pointing out the fact that the game is actually free with no catch is grounds for rejection:


It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, as Cavanagh has already resubmitting a new description with the offending line edited. Regardless, this definitely is up there with the craziest rejections we've seen so far on the App Store. But, whatever, this is just giving me another reason to tell you to read our Super Hexagon review and give that game a download. It's great.

Update: Well that didn't take long, as Don't Look Back is now approved and available for free in the App Store.

  • Himmat Singh

    What if he said it in a politer fashion. Like - "there are no in-app purchases" alone without the nonsense part. Will this still be grounds for rejection?

    • Danny Perskinstein

      Because IAP is nonsense.

      • bigrand1

        You got THAT right, bud!!

    • CC Chamberlin

      Yes, it would still be grounds for rejection.  It's not a politeness issue.  The reason it got rejected is because he included pricing/payment information in the description.  Apple wants to keep that out of the description field so that when you change the app's price and/or IAP settings, they don't display conflicting information between the pricing and the description.

      • CC Chamberlin

        My bad. I don't think that's a reason for rejection any more.

      • Rumpleteaser

        A good reason for me to NOT get into the iStore.  As a consumer, especially one with a young child, I WANT to know if there are in-app payments. Finding out after the fact is reason for unstall for me.  And I would certainly put it in any rating comments, as I do with the Amazon store.

  • Lorenzo Calleja

    The problem was in the wording. It referred to in-app purchases as "nonsense".  Apple obviously took offense to that. Also, the developer said he "changed the description, resubmitted" - never said he removed it.

    • Adams Immersive

      Hopefully that’s the case and it goes forward smoothly. After all, Apple doesn’t try to hide whether an app has IAP or not... it’s clearly shown automatically NEXT to the description.

      Most App Store Rejection Scandals seem to stem from one developer’s frustrating incident (out of the thousands of smooth approvals) and then people read more into the situation than is really there.

      But some real bad policy choices do come up from time to time! I’ll be interested to see how this turns out.

  • 1Fcm

    Apple likes developers who play by the rules. Think about it... Best Buy would never have a product on shelf that made fun of its store policies. So why would Apple allow this?

    • farnsworth_pro

      Are you seriously trying to make Apple out to be the good guy here?

      Wow, that's horrifying.

      IAP isn't Apple's "policy" it's a method of compensation.

      Would BestBuy not allow a product that said "no silly subscription fees"?

      • 1Fcm

        I am not trying to make Apple the good guy. I merely stated that Apple likes developers to play by its rules. And yes, you are right, IAP isn't Apples policy, but the way a developer handles app descriptions regarding IAP is subject to Apples scrutiny.

        So, if Best Buy wanted to allow product on its shelves that stated "no silly subscriptions fees" then it can certainly go ahead and do so. But, if an electronics manufacturer put out a product that stated on the box "don't buy Dynex because its a silly brand" do you think Best Buy would allow it in their store? (Dynex is a Best Buy in-house brand).

      • deviladv

        Would BestBuy sell something on it's shelf that prominently said "no silly BestBuy extended warranties?"  

        While I am not saying it's right, the problem Apple had here is calling it's IAP system nonsense.  Maybe it is, but this isn't the forum to do that in.  Apple would not, for example, take his apps off the store if he chose to complain about IAP in his blog.

  • Andy C83

    And 'Pokemon Yellow' was ok to release? Idiots.

    • 1Fcm

      What does this have to do with the article?

      • ducksFANjason

        Andy is using the Pokemon Yellow debacle as a comparison to show the lunacy in what is considered kosher by Apple and what isn't. Apparently naysaying Apple's IAP features is a no-no but stealing users' money with a fake game is a-ok.

        That was Andy's point, I believe...

      • 1Fcm

        Ok, I get that. Apple is allowed to police its own policies and rules, etc, but has no obligation towards overseeing the content that gets released (unless its offensive and violates policy). Apple would have to have an understanding and knowledge of every game that was ever released. People release stuff on the app store all the time that don't do anything except maybe show images, wallpapers, etc. And yes, sometimes it seems to be just a scam, but as a consumer you should always be vigilant and not just mash the buy button without reading the descriptions first. Pokemon Yellow was indeed a scam, and its high profile enough to warrant a little scrutiny from Apple, but how would they know that it may or may not have been licensed out for release? Luckily the community does a good job of pointing out these 'scams'.

      • ImJPaul

        There was a game that showed up on the AppStore saying it was Pokemon yellow and it was really something completely different. Never bought it because I knew it was a scam but it was at the tops of the charts for like a week even with its straight 1 star review. Goes to show how much iOS users want the real Pokemon experience.

      • 1Fcm

        I would love Pokemon on iOS. Microsoft released a game, maybe Nintendo will see the light one day.

      • iqSoup

        Of course Apple is ALLOWED to police its own policies and rules--no one is suggesting otherwise.  Who is going to stop them from doing so anyways?  The point is that sometimes (often) those rules and the manner in which they are policed are flat out ridiculous.  Apple can be pretty stupid about things and often is pretty blatant about suppressing anyone who criticises them.

      • 1Fcm

        Yes, you are absolutely correct, Apple is allowed to suppress anything that goes through their app store. Whether its stupid or not is subjective. And yes, this one I would agree is pretty damn stupid.

      • iqSoup

        And pointing out Apple's stupidity and making sure others know about it helps solve the issue--it puts pressure on Apple to change.  It already has worked to a degree--back in the day it was much more difficult to get things past Apple's review process.

      • ducksFANjason

        I agree, it should be mostly the user's responsibilty to spend money responsibly and be on the alert for scams. The Pokemon Yellow incident was less about copyright infringement though and more about an app that claimed to be a port of PY but was actually just screens of the game. It didn't actually RUN PY at all. In that regard, Apple's QC procedures should have caught an app that was completely fake. If they want to take a completely hands off approach though, they need to do it in all respects and not reject this game then.

  • Karzay

    What's the big deal? Just remove the part about "nonsense."

    • iqSoup

      Its a big deal because a BIG problem with the app store is the abundance of free to play garbage.  It would be nice if a developer could at least criticise that fact and influence the app store culture but apparently Apple is too arrogant to allow something like that.

      • Karzay

        Please read CC Chamberlin's comment below. He explains why Apple rejected the app description. Feel free to hate Apple all you want, but I disagree with your opinion as it seems you're really upset with the certain developers.

        Developers decide what business model they use. Apple doesn't force developers to choice the free-to-play business model. Also the developer of the game in the article was pandering to players who probably already hate the IAP. It's not going to influence players who don't care or other developers from using that business model.

      • iqSoup

        I don't hate Apple, they have done some pretty amazing things.  I AM a developer myself and I'm glad Apple allows IAP--I've used IAP in some of my games.  But its a fact that there are way too many games that use freemium or free to play models at the expense of the game itself.  I'm not saying Apple should ban IAP and of course developers should be free to monetize their apps as they see fit.  All I'm saying is Apple shouldn't censor developers when they criticise the massive amount of free to play garbage out there.  Influential developers like this can help shift the app store culture away from the current "$1 is way too much!!!" mentality and its a shame Apple is trying to get in the way of that.

      • Karzay

        I understand your point about censorship, but Apple is a business, it's their site and they have that right to control it's content. You wouldn't like it if I walked into your house or your place of business to protest with a sign stating how terrible you are or the people you associate with are. You probably wouldn't allow it. Why should Apple?

      • iqSoup

        Of course Apple CAN censor whoever they want...I'm not saying the government shouldn't let Apple run its business.  But this kind of silliness is bad for the culture of the app store.  Also Apple owes a lot to devs--think how much money even just this particular dev has made for Apple.  I'm not saying they do have the right to do this sort of thing, I'm saying they shouldn't.  Its bad business and sends a bad signal to devs and consumers alike.

      • Karzay

        I feel the opposite. If Apple allows one dev to make a snide comment about other devs and their business models, then you have to let them all do it. It has the potential to get very political very quickly.

        When I read an app description, I want to know specifics about a game. I can care less about a developer's opinion on IAP or any other opinion they might have for that matter.

        When a dev states an opinion in their app description, then they are making me decide on more then just buying a game. They have me wondering if I should support their ideology or not. They are creating an unnecessary niche market for themselves, when their game might appeal to a larger audience. That's bad business in my opinion.

        If I really wanted to know more about a dev personally, I would read their Twitter feed, blog or whatever. When I'm shopping in the App Store, I just want to buy a game.

      • Tuyet

        Apple is not a private house. It's a company that will have responsibilities to stakeholders and please go back to read the description of what type of company Apple is before trying to use your silly comparison. Noone tried to go to Apple's emplyees' houses to harrass them. Happy , now?

      • Karzay

        No, Apple is not a house, it's a company. It wasn't meant to be taken literally. My statement is something called an "analogy." If you are unable to figure that much out, then I'm not surprised you find it silly. Best of luck to you.

  • Crunchewy

    Super Hexagon is pretty cool. At first I wasn't sold on it, but it grew on me. I'll check out the new game once it's out.

  • Scott Lembcke

    Apple does not appreciate whimsy pointed even vaguely in their direction, and they have a bigger stick. Sadly, no real surprise here.

  • nonstickron

    It's up.

  • Dora Breckinridge

    The game was rejected because it looks like the person reviewing the app for the store misunderstood and took his comments to mean the game was actually missing content. If you look at the previous sentence ("does not appear to include final content"), it seems pretty clear to me that it was a misunderstanding, probably due to some person just skimming through stuff instead of reading things carefully for context, rather than Apple taking offense at the jibe.

    And really, how much of the IAP stuff should be considered Apple being greedy, when it seems like more often than not it's a developer's decision as to how they structure their game to milk out more player purchases? I'm an Android person myself, but geez, the amount of knee-jerk Apple hate is kind of silly over this one.

    • Jesse Prabawa

      Glad someone actually understood the context properly.

    • Eegah

      Yeah, really looks like someone at fruit did a text search over all apps and just went nuts. Pretty embarrassing for Apple to be sure, its not as if they don't have an image problem over cramp like this or anything.

    • ducksFANjason

      Who said Apple is greedy for having an IAP option? All the comments I see mention that IAP is garbage, but no one was directing hate toward Apple specifically. Other comments mentioned Apple being "dumb" for this move, but I don't think that was because they feel Apple is greedy for having an IAP setup. It's just an issue of Apple having such sporadic and random views on what is ok and what isn't. The public's perception of Apple's approval process isn't great due largely to the long waits for approval and the inconsistent rules that govern said approvals that somehow block legitimate developers like this but yet allow garbage devs who create blatant non-games (apps that literally do nothing but are made to LOOK like they do something to get users to buy them) to infiltrate the app store.

  • CC Chamberlin

    The reason Apple rejected that wording has nothing to do with the "nonsense" wording.
    The guidelines you agree to when selling on the App Store state pretty clearly that you're not supposed to include any pricing information in the app description.

    This is because Apple wants to avoid there being an inconsistency between the app's description and its actual pricing.  For instance, what if the description said "FREE FREE FREE" and it was listed as "$10"?  What if it said "only $2" but it is being viewed in a country that doesn't use dollars?  What if the app said "No IAP" and then the developer adds them without modifying the description?  What if it's set at $10, but the app is being viewed by an educational buyer who gets the 50% off?

    Keeping any and all pricing description out of the app description avoids these problems and ensures that the app description really does describe the app.  Now, in this case, one could argue that proudly saying "no IAP" is legitimately part of the app description, since it's almost part of one's design aesthetic, but unless we want Apple reviewers making judgement calls all the time, which would lead to even more "but he got to do that, why can't I?" complaints, it's better that the reviewers stick to the policy.

    • Karzay

      That makes better sense.

    • ducksFANjason

      That makes sense but the only thing I'm confused about if your explanation is true, is how do so many apps get approved that contain phrases in their descriptions such as "LIMITED TIME LAUNCH SALE - $.99" or "Holiday Sale - Download for 50% off now!"? Threre are dozens of apps that launch with phrases like that every week and they make it through... My best guess is that it either was a confusion over whether this is a finished app (as another poster above mentioned) or that Apple didn't appreciate the jab at IAP.

      • Wikilix

        I was waiting for someone to state this...
        Yes, I also see apps launching with "special price!" Descriptions such as 50% off, etc.

        I believe it was a misunderstanding, in which apple thought content was missing.

      • CC Chamberlin

        Hm. You're right.  I don't think that's a reason for rejection any more.

      • Karzay

        The developer changed the description and the the app was accepted, so you may still be correct. It's easier for Apple to reject the description content as the app being submitted than to read and approve of every edit a developer does to the description after it was accepted.

  • Jack Mayol

    fuk you apple, really!
    I am not interested in this game but I still will buy it because this guy is nothing else than right, IAPs mostly SUCKS!

    • Karzay

      The developer changed the description and the the app was accepted, so you may still be correct. It's easier for Apple to reject the description content as the app being submitted than to read and approve of every edit a developer does to the description after it was accepted.

  • JPhilipp

    I recently got my app (Noob Powers Live TV) rejected because I had mentioned that it's a trial version you can play 15 times, then unlock the full game through an IAP. Apple said I shouldn't put live trial versions, basically. After amending my description it was fine to go live though.

  • witedahlia

    I'm confused. Everyone on this forum hates IAP. It's probably the most hated thing in gaming. I'm guessing the dev reads the forum. I'm guessing he knows his audience hates IAP and decided to address our concerns. He used the word "nonsense" for that very reason. Apple took offense. IMO that's probably what happened. The argument about not listing a price in the description doesn't make sense to me for the reasons others have pointed out - I'm always seeing phrases like "free app" etc. And they allow scam apps through all the time (not on purpose, things slip through). I freely admit I know nothing about game development or marketing but I do know a bit about Apple's police state mentality. That's where the "Apple hate" is coming from, at least from me. Ive been watching them make screwball decisions and bully people since 2009. Yeah, I'll still keep buying their iPods and pads and everything else, but when something like this happens... yeah, I'm ok with a little hate.

  • iqSoup

    Often Apple isn't very clear about why an app got rejected.  After reading Apple's feedback and all the above comments I still don't know what the problem specifically was.  It can be frustrating as a developer--when you've put a year of your life into an app--when it gets rejected for ambiguous reasons.

  • jeffyg3

    I don't buy any single player game these days with dirty idiotic coin/cash-based IAP. They almost always ruin what could have been a good quality balanced game. This is the stupidest Apple rejection I've heard in a long while, I think more games should have that no nonsense IAP quote in there.

  • agentblank

    Just beat it. It was a fun little game

  • riggysmalls

    Downloaded it, loved it, gave it 5 stars and a review stating that it doesn't have IAP or any of that nonsense.

  • James Kochalka

    This is my favorite of his games.  I wish there were more like this.

  • araczynski

    any publicity is good publicity 🙂

  • Soul_of_Wit

    IAP is not universally despised. Poorly-done IAP is universally despised. I can see Apple having a problem with the description when some of the most successful games in the App Store include IAP.