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
25 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
25 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
25 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
25 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
25 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
25 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)

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