Hit Dystopian Game 'Papers, Please' Lands on iPad Amid Publicity Over Censorship by Apple

The popular PC "dystopian document thriller" Papers, Please launched on the iPad early this morning, after hitting Mac earlier this year and originally being released on Steam in August of 2013. As noted by our sister site TouchArcade, however, the new iOS version is bringing a bit of controversy with it as one of the game's somewhat adult elements has been removed after facing Apple's family-focused App Store censorship rules.


The game sets players as unlucky border control guards working for the fictional nation of Arstotzka. The entire game revolves around checking the documents of people attempting to immigrate into the country, cross-checking passports, ID cards, and work releases to ensure only those with proper documentation get past.

The focus of Apple's censorship lies in the full-body scanner introduced a few levels into the game that tasks the player with ensuring the person attempting to enter Arstotzka isn't carrying any kind of contraband. The PC, Mac, and Linux versions of the game depicted fully nude (albeit in low resolution given the nature of the game's graphics) versions of characters when put through this scanner, with an option to censor the nudity by including underwear on the characters.

Papers, Please for iPad, however, removes the choice from the equation, automatically covering the characters in underwear when scanned by the player. App Store rules have always skewed toward the more conservative, especially when compared to other content available uncensored through the iTunes Store, but even so, the App Store's rules are on occasion applied unevenly with some games from high-profile developers being approved without censored graphics.

Regardless of the minor censorship issue, the iPad version of Papers, Please appears to be an excellent port of the original game, including all 31 days and 20 possible endings of its desktop counterpart, with optimized touch screen controls enhanced for iPad. It also includes "unlockable multitouch support for faster paperwork, an enhanced inspection mode, Game Center achievements, leaderboards, mid-day resume, and more."

Papers, Please can be downloaded from the App Store for $5.99. [Direct Link]

Update 11:50 AM: Papers, Please developer Lucas Pope says that he was contacted by an Apple representative who reported that the initial rejection was the result of a misunderstanding and invited Pope to resubmit with the nudity option enabled. Pope says he will restore the option (defaulted to no nudity) this weekend and resubmit to Apple.

Top Rated Comments

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77 months ago
You can blow up and slash people into pieces with a hatchet, but showing even a hint of flesh is definite no-no :( I'll never be able to understand that......

Anyway, I bought this game before on Steam, it's quite good. I may get it again on iPad.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
As John Gruber points out, it's bizarre that apps can be rejected for content that is easily found in films in the iTunes store.

I can get behind a ban on actual pornography in apps, but if it's something that's appropriate for R-rated movies then I see no reason why Apple should say they allow that in some parts of iTunes (movies) but not in others (apps).

Make your rules, Apple, but apply the same rules to all of the media you sell.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
Why does every game have to be so pixelated these days. Most of us have retina displays now, and many of us lived through the days of pixely games.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
what a weird looking game.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
You could show gibs that were once genitals (or any part of the body), dismembered, bloodied, that's fine. The system is genuinely hilarious and ****ed up. < there's another one

Meh, censor away Apple. If they don't like it they can go the BBedit route. Nobody is forced to use the App Store.

How else does one get apps onto an iOS device?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
I really enjoyed the game on PC. And these days you'd hope that Apple realize that they are catering to a world wide crowd and not just to prude Americans. Establish a +18 section or whatever in your app store, that way you won't be laughed at internationally due to censorship of some pixelated genitals that aren't even in any sexual context.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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