Japanese Developers Criticize Apple's App Store Policies and Approval Process

The ongoing dispute between Apple and Epic Games has spurred complaints from Japanese game developers about Apple's App Store business model and the way it handles third-party app submissions.

Bloomberg reports that some developers in the Japanese gaming market have been emboldened by the dispute and are becoming more vocal about their own concerns, which including Apple's 30% commission rate and inconsistent enforcement of App Store policies.

While Epic, publisher of the hit title Fortnite, focuses on the 30% revenue cut app stores typically take, Japanese game studios have broader concerns. They have long been unhappy with what they see as Apple's inconsistent enforcement of its own App Store guidelines, unpredictable content decisions and lapses in communication, according to more than a dozen people involved in the matter.

According to game developers in Japan, Google's Play Store offers a smoother approval process and better communication than the App Store. Some developers even rely on a third-party service called iOS Reject Rescue, which helps them navigate through Apple's approval process if their app is rejected.

"Apple's app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational," said Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory, which provides the rejection service. "While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item's in the review queue or they intentionally keep it untouched as a sanction to a developer giving them the wrong attitude," Shoji told Bloomberg.

Japanese developers have also been critical of the way Apple interprets what is appropriate content and say it often changes policies without advance notice. One topic in particular they take issue with is Apple's judgement of what constitutes overtly sexualized or pornographic material. The report notes that several game studios had characters in swimsuits approved only for them to be later rejected as Apple considered them to be "sexualized."

Apple has faced increasing scrutiny over its App Store practices from both developers and regulators in recent months. In response to the public clash between Apple and Epic Games, Japan's antitrust regulator has said it will "step up attention" to the iPhone maker's practices and how they affect the country's massive mobile gaming market.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
3 weeks ago


It's because of the strict AppStore guidelines that I feel iOS is safer.

Is that a fair argument though? I feel pretty safe on macOS – even though I can install software on my Mac from other places than the Mac App Store.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
3 weeks ago


There are plenty of ways to do gambling and porn on the Internet. Big bad Apple isn’t stopping you from indulging in vice.

Behaving like the Amish People in 2020 isn’t right either.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
3 weeks ago
lol not a single day without Apple dictatorship news.
The prude Apple, also one of reasons why AppleTV+ will never succeed

Shame - Shame - Shame
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
3 weeks ago


It's because of the strict AppStore guidelines that I feel iOS is safer.

iOS would not be less safe with a anime girl in bikinis beach volleyball game where the bulk of the development budget was spend on boob physics.

These developers are not asking for side loading, they are asking for consistency with app store submissions.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
3 weeks ago
These all sound like valid complaints regarding the review process needing tightened up and on their content policy. Indeed one of the main issues with the AppStore is that we can't put up a gambling app for a sports betting website(not even a fantasy one), we can't put up a interactive fiction of the less wholesome variety, and even chat apps where the chat is adult only.

Of course, all of these can be done as web apps so there hasn't been any loss. But it would be nice to be able to build these as native apps on the AppStore(I am sure Apple can add an over 16s section).
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
3 weeks ago
This, this is the real issue many developers face, especially those who do not have a huge megaphone and that are not busy battling because of greed.

I've had multiple devs of some of my favorite apps let me know why a feature or a bug fix or a creative implementation have been shut down, and that they were advised to not put that explanation on the blog, or on the next update's "what's new field".

Apple had, they still might have it as a guideline that they can reject apps at "our sole discretion", so heaven forbid that developers send an app to a nameless,faceless reviewer who is cranky because its almost lunch time and rejects it ( think of the study with visa approvals) only so that you can see competitors have theirs approved the same day. Plus silent retribution is a real thing.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

Tuesday September 22, 2020 3:25 pm PDT by
Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that M...

New Images Leak of iPhone 12 Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Thursday September 24, 2020 2:37 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models will ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design. Images of the purported cables were leaked in July, and today leaker Mr White has shared new images that give us a closer look at what we might get included in the iPhone 12 box. The photos show a USB-C to Lightning cable with a clearly braided design rather...

Apple's iPhone 12 Event Could Happen on October 13 Based on Rumors From Mobile Operators

Wednesday September 23, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone-centric event could perhaps be held on Tuesday, October 13, according to information shared with MacRumors by an employee at a UK cellular carrier. There's no way for us to confirm the dates at this point in time nor are we sure on the credibility of the source, but even without a rumor, Tuesday, October 13 is a good guess based on Apple's historic launch timelines, ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Apple Emphasizes That Solo Loop May Increase in Length Over Time, Updates Sizing Guide With More Specific Instructions

Wednesday September 23, 2020 8:26 am PDT by
Apple on Tuesday updated one of its support documents to emphasize that the new silicone rubber Solo Loop for the Apple Watch may increase in length over time, as mentioned in fine print at the bottom of the Solo Loop product page. Apple has also updated its printable Solo Loop sizing guide with more specific instructions, as noted by 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber. The guide now advises users to ...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

Kuo: Mini-LED Displays to Debut in Apple's Next iPad Pro

Tuesday September 22, 2020 11:45 pm PDT by
Following his report earlier this week indicating that Apple will be accelerating adoption of mini-LED displays in its iPad and Mac notebook lineups thanks to better than expected development from potential secondary supplier Sanan Optoelectronics, analyst Ming-Chi has released a new report today sharing a bit more perspective on the mini-LED display market as it relates to Apple. Kuo says...