As Apple threatens to pull games, developers explain why forced updates are a conservation nightmare

App Store logo.

Picture: Apple

Although the mobile gaming ecosystem is known for hosting live service games that earns more aggressively than standalone console games, there is no shortage of creators who make mobile games that do not require constant updates. Now some indie developers are figuring out what can happen when you put your finished games in the Apple App Store and do not update them for a few years: They may be delisted from one of the largest video game storefronts in the world.

Robert Kabwe is the developer behind it Motivoto, a puzzle that is free to play and does not contain microtransactions. On April 22, he received a message from Apple about it Motivoto would be removed from the App Store in 30 days because it “had not been updated in a significant amount of time.” Kotaku contacted Apple for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Apple’s email carried the “App Store Improvement Notice” subject line, suggesting that the company sees this killing of games that have not been updated for some time as a way to improve its digital marketplace. However, Kabwe feels that the platform’s pressure to push constant updates out is “an unfair barrier for indie developers.” In a Twitter thread responding to the message, he stated that he “is trying [his] best to scrape a livelihood from my indie games and try to keep up with Apple, Google, Unity, Xcode, MacOS changes happening so fast my head spins. “He claimed the update requirement was” arbitrary “as Apple did not specified the type of changes it was looking for. Motivoto was Last updated in March 2019.

Other developers have also been hit by “App Store Improvement Notices” informing them that their game is being removed and they are not happy about it. The experimental game creator Emilia Lazer-Walker pointed out that “games can exist as finished objects” and said that her free games are “finished works of art from years ago.” Unfortunately, it seems that people who want to experience these games will now have to ask the original artist to do the equivalent of a painter adding a blob of paint every few years to a work of art that already hanging in a gallery. Except that the paint is code and there is a risk of that game update will break it so bad that it “will not run.”

Although game developers fled the Apple ecosystem in response to these actions, Android is hardly more accommodating to creators with limited time and budget. April 6, Google announced that Play Store would remove apps that have not been updated within two years of the latest Android version.

Mobile currently represents 52% of the entire gaming market, and is expected to see even more growth in the future. It’s really sad that the overlords of the biggest game store facades refuse to see the value of preserving games based on their artistic significance, rather than the principle of infinite growth.