App-store-iconWhile there has been much dismay at developers permanently removing games from the App Store, Apple have today announced that they are to start taking the issue into their own hands. In an email to developers, Apple have stated that applications that 'no longer function as intended', have not been supported with compatibility updates, or ones that do not 'follow current review guidelines', are at risk of being removed from the App Store completely. Furthermore, Apple are also imposing a restriction in the length of an app's title, to prevent overly long names in an attempt to influence search results. They have stated that names must now be no longer than 50 characters, or they will not be approved to be put on sale. Apple explain these new restrictions will be put in place from September 7th (the same day as their incoming media event), and justify such changes by emphasising their commitment to 'quality' applications, and their desire for it to be easier for 'customers to find great apps that fit their needs'.

While the naming restrictions will certainly have their own repercussions, the attempt at cleaning up 'abandoned' applications is far more concerning for the iOS gaming community as a whole. On one hand, Apple's reasoning is understandable - purchasing an application that has not been supported for newer versions of iOS is not desirable by any means. However, the removal of games that 'no longer function as intended' or that don't 'follow current review guidelines' is more troublesome - this could lead to the sudden disappearance of classic older games that still run perfectly fine even on newer devices, but haven't been updated in a few years. Furthermore, while Apple have outlined an 'ongoing process' in evaluating apps, notifying the owners and removing them afterwards, it's still not clear whether developers will have any way to respond to these inquisitions, or if apps will disappear from the App Store overnight.

These changes to Apple's evaluation process do conveniently coincide with the impending iOS 10 public release, as well as Apple's introduction of 'Search Ads' that allow developers to pay to have their applications prominent in search results, so it's easy to be cynical about what their intentions are in making these alterations. The relative ambiguity to the criteria that is stated for removal of an application raises the question as to where the line is drawn in terms of when an app is declared 'abandoned'. Either way, it will be interesting to see how these new terms affect the App Store, and whether they can have a long-term positive impact in making it a more accessible ecosystem for users.

[via The Verge]

  • Shiro

    Very disturbing.

  • Wavydoesit

    Nice Maybe They Can Add Skulls Of The Shogun Back I Never Got to Finish It and It Vanished from the Store lol

    • nkx

      Does this mean games saved on cloud will disappear as well???

      • dndk

        no

    • Tallgeese

      Well I checked and am deeply saddened to report that one of my favorite ios games, Skulls of the Shogun (Bone-A-Fide: Edition) *is* indeed available in my purchase history and will even install, however it will crash upon start-up (probably can't access and load its assets or something), I've tried rebooting and clicking on it many times. Very sad. It looks to still be available on GOG, steam, XBox, Winpho, and Droid. Sorry for the news.

      • Onikage725

        PS4 as well.

    • OrangutanKungfu

      Skulls of the Shogun is gone? That sucks. It's still in my purchase history, though, so it's not been completely pulled.

  • bhayes444

    I wonder if this might result in the removal of the TA app as it hasn't been updated in a while since the update breaks some silly Apple rules. I hope it doesn't, but it is possible I suppose.

    • Jakeopp

      Apple clearly needs to rethink these rules of theirs

  • dancj

    Hopefully this just means games not being available for sale, but still in our purchased lists.
    Could this put the TouchArcade app itself in danger? It's never been optimised for iPhone 6 and possibly infringes the same rule that killed the AppShopper app.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Hard to say! It works on iOS 10 and still has a back-end that is maintained so I think we might be OK?

      • GUILTIE

        I think I recall you guys saying it could not be updated, but what exactly is the problem?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        We break the "store within a store" rule by mirroring a lot of the App Store stuff for display purposes.

      • HelperMonkey

        And it still makes more money for Apple...

      • scottsoapbox

        I hope so!

    • dndk

      they will stay in your purchased list

      • dancj

        Cool. In that case this is probably a good move. There are too many broken old apps that turn up in searches.

  • curtneedsaride

    Wait...
    "However, the removal of games that 'no longer function as intended' or that don't 'follow current review guidelines' is more troublesome - this could lead to the sudden disappearance of classic older games that still run perfectly fine even on newer devices, but haven't been updated in a few years."
    Wouldn't those old apps that still run perfectly fine on newer devices NOT be considered 'no longer function(ing) as intended'?? Meaning, those apps would remain on the App Store? If it runs fine, it should still sell. Don't see why they'd remove it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/robfunnell3 Rob Funnell

      Entirely depends on their interpretation of 'abandoned'. Not being confirmed functionality from a certain version of iOS, not being updated since a certain date (both of which will probably be automatically detected) or whether it'll be more a case by case basis (ie games that still run on later versions but haven't been updated in a while). You'd hope it wouldn't be an issue, but the relative ambiguity in their methodology around this means we won't know until the process starts.

  • swarmster

    Fantastic news, and long overdue. Hopefully this is just the beginning and we see all those games that don't support larger screen sizes, longer aspect ratios, or even retina assets put out to pasture. For that matter, start requiring Game Center and iCloud save support. iOS gaming could really use a more consistent and user friendly atmosphere than the current plague of different third party user accounts and Facebook popups.

    • OrangutanKungfu

      Unfortunately, Game Center is being axed from iOS 10 onwards, so that element of your wishlist is off the menu, I'm afraid. Shame - I was just starting to enjoy it, after years of ignoring it entirely.

  • vectorarchitekt

    Maybe Fireflame will be more inclined to update Dungeon Raid after all

  • shaneorourke

    Maybe it'd force the developers to finally fix Dungeon Siege. What a bloody con that was

  • gleeclub

    BIOSHOCK???

  • garbui

    Capcom: 0
    Apple: 1

    • GameTaco

      At least we got Monster Hunter back

      Until the next time an iOS update breaks something 😡

      • Tallgeese

        Full score:
        Apple: -4735
        Capcom: 3

  • M0rdresh

    Before buying an app I always first check when the last update was done. At the mark of six months is a doubtful case, anything beyond is a no-go for me.

    Hence I welcome this wholeheartedly.

    • houseofg

      That's a really handy rule of thumb (for missing out on awesome games).

      • M0rdresh

        Awesome games are updated frequently and not left to their own devices. That's both from technical and content perspective.

        There are a lot gems that are meanwhile not experienced as intended because they have not been updated in a very long time. My rule may be to progressive as such, it's a shame devs abandon their game like that.

        This is 2016, we want updates, improvements, social buzz and upcoming content, that is modern gaming. We had our share of static games on print plate with plastic encasement (read = cartridge).

  • Milotorou

    As long as its done properly im all for it, lets see how it unfolds

    • HelperMonkey

      Capitalism benefits everyone if it's "done properly."
      Socialism benefits everyone if it's "done properly."
      But "done properly" can be a hell of a challenge.
      Still, I agree. In the long term I think this will benefit the AppStore ecosystem.

      • Tallgeese

        Capitalism and socialism are only done properly when the two are blended together, meaning in brief that capitalism has rules preventing cheating and to win and promoting fairness and socialism has boundaries that allow for more freedom.

      • Milotorou

        Definitely going to be hell of a challenge.

        Im still willing to put some faith into apple, they sometimes do mistakes but for the most part they usually do things the best they can

  • sherlockeb

    Haha, no wait, so even if I get an old used iPod touch 3 I'm not gonna be able to buy these games and play them what's worse I might not be able to redownload old games I bought to play on my older devices.

    • dndk

      you will be able to redownload old games

      • Tallgeese

        Whether or not older games even work and if you can indeed still download them remains to be seen. Bioshock was removed from even purchase histories previously before they put it back. Some games I've tried to download won't even install.

  • bluechipps

    Sounds to me like the idea is to prevent people from buying apps that for example were designed for iOS3+, never updated, and now most of their functions don't work... things like that.

  • sobriquet

    I really see this as a positive. Sure there's a possibility of losing some older games, but my interpretation of that statement is they're finally trying to clean out some of the old, dead apps. I don't think the focus is at all the game store, but outside of games, christ, there are 1000's of calendars, clocks, web browsers and the efing flashlights that probably haven't been downloaded in ages. It's a freaken nightmare. I'd be curious to hear Jared's thoughts on this. He has occasionally been vocal about the overcrowding of the App Store.

  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    "the removal of games that 'no longer function as intended'" ... "could lead to the sudden disappearance of classic older games that still run perfectly fine"

    I don't think there's cause to worry from this announcement. Worth watching though!

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      every developers must take notice before it's too late O~O

  • Alexythimia23

    Maybe it will also have a positive effect in that devs will make sure their games dont break...looking at you 2k! Maybe games will not break on every update with the threat that they could lose their spot on store??
    Who knows, knowing our luck their will be major negatives like losing older games...

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      How many downloads per day do you honestly think some half broken game from 2012 is getting? I'm not sure the pressure is as real as you think.

      • Tallgeese

        That's only 4 years, nostalgia takes time to strike...

  • Anonomation

    Darn! I won't be able to play Asphalt Racing on a Need for Speed Forza driving simulator track Turismo!

  • Dankrio

    If quality was so important they wouldn't push many unnecessary updates that keep on breaking older aps.

  • Mike T4

    This could be problematic. Not only games, some abandoned apps are one-of-a-kind and still work.
    I suddenly remember Warpgate, and ngmoco, where are these games of AppStore past heydays? Puts me in a nostalgic mood

  • Rashanii

    [said with smirk on his face]
    Starscream: Oh, how it pains me to do this!
    Megatron: Wait! I still function!
    Starscream: Wanna bet?
    [Starscream lets Megatron's body drift from the open shuttle door into space]
    Megatron: Starscream!... argh!...
    [Megatron's crumbled body disappears into space]

    • Tallgeese

      haha

  • scottsoapbox

    So does a premium game that changes to free to play "no longer function as intended"? -raised eyebrow-

    • HelperMonkey

      Snap.

    • TripMX

      Ahahahahaha!!! XD

  • cmmc38

    So this means I can finally stop checking the App Store three times a day to see if Crimson Gem Saga has been fixed?

    • Tallgeese

      no

      • Tallgeese

        in fact tid isn't enough... what it is fixed and then taken down seconds later...

      • Tallgeese

        Oh, snap, that game looks dope, maybe you should see if available for a PiSP.

  • boydstr

    So all the people that bought BioShock loose their money and what the attempt by the devs to fix this??if this is true Apple need to pay all the people back that bought the game and I don't understand the way games are released look at Eisenhorn:Xenos within 1 week I need to updated the game more then 3 times why not testing the game first and when it's without any faults release it and not bring a product what is not ready for a release🤔this is so frustrating and it has nothing
    to do with the money that I spend but it's the principle that matters.

  • KizuxTheo

    I hope this doesn't mean they'll remove Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, I just bought it and I know several people still actively play it.

  • theforkfactor

    Good.

  • Septim

    I think they'd be better off in the quality control department if they just don't approve every casino/slot machine app and clone app of popular games that is submitted. Those two account for most of the rubbish on the App Store. There are a couple other categories that could be limited too. Who cares if a completely original game like Rolando or Wild Frontier (both removed) hasn't been updated but still plays fine.

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      yup I see casino/slot machine games every day in AppShopper and I wish they don't get approved unless they're mixed with other genres

  • bpcookson

    Is "inquisition" really the right word for this? Made me laugh but I'm not sure that was the intent.

    Anyway, this will probably be a good thing in general. I agree though that the gaming community may get the short end of the stick here. There are always some mistakes made in whatever one does; there will be casualties of war.

    • http://www.twitter.com/robfunnell3 Rob Funnell

      Almost probably not, but I'm glad someone appreciated it haha, I agree that it will likely be a good thing, but even if it's a relatively restrained clean up of older games, it still feels like a bit of a whitewashing of some of the App Store's history. Hopefully it works out for the better, but my main concern is I strongly doubt Apple have the intentions of the gaming community at mind whatsoever.

  • http://javatune.co drunk_vader

    Am I the only one who sees this as a good thing? It's a mere quality check. We don't want iOS to be anything like Android.

  • Booch138

    Maybe this will scare SQENIX into finally making Tactics playable. Bleh.

  • fabell

    Good: all those crapapps that get released everyday with zero content may finally get removed, clearing up the store with stuff that follows guidelines. Bad: if a developer isn't careful they may get auto-removed because of some unknown incompatibility with the rules, even though it's an awesome product. Ugly: unless Apple is improving the search feature, restricting the app title is going to make it very tedious to find apps that are normally impossible to find.