Since it’s a day that ends in Y, it’d seem that we’re once again reporting on some really strange App Store removal drama. This particular instance smells an awful lot like what Choice of Games dealt with earlier this year when Apple determined that a company that releases game book apps on the App Store was actually spamming the App Store by releasing too many apps that look too similar to each other. Apple apparently still remains unaware that while game books all have words and illustrations in them, by changing those words and illustrations you can have vastly different games. Well, it’d seem the critically acclaimed macabre puzzle adventure series, Rusty Lake, has also been caught up in this absurd policy that Apple randomly decides to enforce:
To all who can't find our games in Apple's Appstore. Unfortunately all our games are removed from @AppStoreGames due spam and looking identical. We really hope this automatic generated removal and we are back online soon… https://t.co/ode4HCumBW
— Rusty Lake 🚣♂️ (@rustylakecom) January 3, 2019
If you’re looking for either Rusty Lake Paradise ($2.99) or Cube Escape (Free), you’ll need to download them somewhere other than the App Store. (Such as Google Play, Steam, and other platforms where you’re allowed to have multiple games that look the same.) This is a particularly baffling move, as the games themselves feature different characters, and different puzzles. They just happen to be based in the same game world, which is why they look so similar. In fact, the games all taking place at Rusty Lake is sort of the point of the whole series which we get into in our review. It’s like Apple having a problem with Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 because they take place in the same game world. Calling this a bizarre move would mean it is even remotely out of the ordinary, but really odd removals from the App Store is just part of doing business for iOS developers, as Slitherine recently experienced with Afghanistan ’11.
Of course the Rusty Lake developers are doing everything they can to get these games back online, but right now aren’t yet certain as to whether or not this was some sort of automated removal or if someone from Apple editorial played the games and determined they were the same. (I’m not sure which is worse, in that situation.) The truly ridiculous thing about these stories, consistently, is that good developers seem to constantly find themselves getting pinched by Apple policies while the App Store is absolutely flooded with clones, knock-offs, and developers who have released nearly infinite re-skins of the same slot machine game. Meanwhile a developer who has spent so much time fleshing out their game universe that they released a professionally produced short film to accompany them gets nuked for being a spammer.
We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report on today’s dumb App Store drama. You’d think that this is just a simple misunderstanding and Apple will rapidly restore these games on the App Store, but we thought that about Choice of Games too, who have since been forced to just release a single app to hold all of their game books. It would be dumb, but it would not surprise us if Apple made the Rusty Lake developers jump through similar hoops. The sad part is it also wouldn’t surprise us, and we totally wouldn’t blame the developers, if that caused them to walk away from the iOS platform entirely.
It’s almost starting to feel like Apple just wants developers who release fabulous premium games like these to just go somewhere else.
Update: Around twelve hours later it would seem that all the games have been restored, and are once again available for purchase on the App Store. I’m more than a little surprised this was all settled so quickly.