The Hills Are Greener: Does App Store Censorship Affect All App Stores?

The Hills Are Greener: Does App Store Censorship Affect All App Stores?

Jun 24, 2013

Polygon has published an article about “serious games” (games that are used to discuss or convey serious points) and how Apple has resisted allowing games that criticize them or reference certain touchy subjects from being on the App Store.

It’s entirely wrong, and it’s why I’m glad open operating systems like Android exist for allowing them to exist. But still, what Apple does has reverberations on what the entire market can do because of their position.

After all, if a developer wants to have some hope of financial success with a game, they’re going to avoid making a ‘serious’ game because, well, Apple can shut down a significant portion of possible revenue with a wave of their hand. Yes, Android distribution exists as an option, but only releasing on one platform, or having to heavily modify a game to release on the App Store as well as on Android, it discourages developers from tackling them entirely.

And that’s the scary thing – why should the entire market be forced to play by Apple’s rules? PC marketplaces like Steam can choose not to feature certain content, but they don’t shut down distribution entirely for those games. Apple shuts down the existence of them on their operating system entirely.

What Apple needs to do is to allow for non-App-Store distribution of apps. I think that yes, they should be allowed to take certain precautions to prevent mass piracy of paid apps (it is still a problem on Android), but the market is mature enough to where it should be allowed. It’s one thing to run and control a store. It’s another to censor content entirely.

It’s why I don’t take Google removals, though they are fewer and farther between, so poorly. Google has a right to run their store the way they want because even if they decide to shut something down, it’s still possible for those apps to be distributed in some form. Google doesn’t kill the existence of software it disapproves of entirely. Part of that might be the Linux factor, but it’s still the operating reality, and that’s what is important.

At worst, it’s the right thing to do for Apple, to allow content they disapprove of to still exist in some form. Why can’t games mature to the point where they can discuss current events? Or to talk about sex? Or to criticize institutions like religion or international technology conglomerates like Apple and Google? If Apple refuses to allow apps to tackle the subjects, they make it harder for the app market as a whole to mature to make it a possibility.