Apple's Recent App Store Policy Change Has Indie Developers Feeling Sickened

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Hello developer, do you have a mobile app that you have been selling for years? How about a free game? You know the product is so solid in its code that it hasn't needed an update in years. Well, guess what? Apple might pull it from the App store despite your tight coding.

In a recent post by Apple about App Store Improvements, the Cupertino tech giant stated, "We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated."

While making sure apps retain adherence to review guidelines or ensuring non-functioning apps get pulled makes sense, to indie developers, "outdated" is a bit arbitrary and has caused some developers to cry foul, particularly games developers. Some of which have already posted their concerns to social media.
Protopop Games, in the Tweet above, makes a very valid statement that other platforms or physical retail stores still sell products that are more than twenty years old. This new policy is disheartening to many indie developers, especially when you consider that many games that have become mega-popular often have done so years after their initial release with little to no changes. Two examples of games that became mega-popular years after release are Among Us (2018) and Stardew Valley (2016). These games reached their peak popularity so far in 2020 and 2021, respectively, though this situation would only apply if they never updated in those stretches of time.

In addition to this problem, thanks to the Epic Games lawsuit and potential new laws in the EU there is potential that Apple may be required to allow third party app stores on their iOS devices. Before that happens, though, if something like a game hasn't been updated and got purged from the App Store and users still wish to play it but perhaps bought a new device, it would drive them to do things like jailbreak their device. Jailbreaking is something Apple is no fan of, but it would allow users do things like side-load versions of apps they still want. Which, judging by the current increase in iffy applications on Android distributed this way, is probably not a great idea.

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All of this said, though, it seems like the actual goal is to weed out apps that are not necessarily kept up to date and on the latest APIs. After all, newer APIs do usually include a good chunk of security updates as well. Maybe there's some benevolence here, but honestly public outcries against things Apple does rarely results in it changing things. It did, after all, make the baffling unwanted change to an always-attached power cable on the new Studio Display. Also the new Mac Studio does not seem to like having an SSD upgrade, making it less upgradable than a PlayStation 5.

Only time will tell—maybe Apple will just make games an exception in the future, but these changes are making the Apple ecosystem less and less attractive to developers as of late.