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

app store iconThe 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

Ferry74 Avatar
19 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)
Wildkraut Avatar
19 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)
Wildkraut Avatar
19 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)
ruka.snow Avatar
19 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)
ruka.snow Avatar
19 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)
jacksam Avatar
19 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

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
find my app safari post

Safari Allows Users to Enable Hidden 'Items' Tab in 'Find My' App Ahead of AirTags Launch

Wednesday January 13, 2021 5:45 am PST by
As seen in screenshots obtained by MacRumors in 2019, Apple's long-rumored AirTags items trackers are expected to be managed through the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Now, any user can get an early look at this tab. MacRumors reader David Chu today alerted us that the hidden "Items" tab in the Find My app can be enabled on an iPhone or iPad by typing in the link findmy://items in...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...
apple racial equity justice initiative propel center render 01132021

Apple Launches New Nationwide Racial Equity and Justice Initiative Projects

Wednesday January 13, 2021 4:08 am PST by
Apple today announced a set of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. Rendering of the Propel Center The projects include the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple ...