As a closed ecosystem, Apple’s App Store does not seem very strict regarding what kind of iOS games can be published on the platform. Sometimes though, titles that violate one or more of Apple’s policies and managed to draw attention to themselves are prone to be pulled from the App Store. One such game was Fortnite, but what are other popular iOS games that were also removed from the App Store for breaking guidelines from all these years? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
9. Weed Firm
One of the early iOS games with a weed-farming theme. Although it managed to be the number one most downloaded app, Apple still dropped the banhammer on it. Manitoba Games’ (now KoolBros) anger was justified since in their statement despite Weed Firm being delisted, they note that other weed-based games remain not banned in the App Store. Later, the game and its sequel, Weed Firm 2: Back To College, managed to be welcomed on iOS.
8. Sweatshop HD
Satirical tower defense game with a business simulator skin. As its title stands, while managing your factory, you can simply hire high-skilled workers at the expense of your company’s profits — or just hire child labor and other shortcuts to save money. Littleloud’s head Simon Parkin said Apple removed the game because they were “uncomfortable selling a game based around the theme of running a sweatshop.” Closed back in 2013, Littleloud themselves is a BAFTA-winning game studio that primarily took on educational projects from Britain’s Channel 4, BBC Learning, and BBC Radio.
7. Smuggle Truck
Definitely another title (and art) that’s baiting for a ban. Made by Owlchemy Labs, the game is an “over-the-top physics-based driving game.” As a smuggler, you must save your passengers by going across the border as fast as possible while avoiding obstacles and “catch newborn babies.” Yep. Owlchemy Labs said this satirical game was inspired by the frustration of the development team’s friends trying to immigrate to the United States. They rereleased it as Snuggle Truck for iOS.
6. Kawaii Killer
If you’re familiar with Happy Tree Friends cartoon show, then Kawaii Killer is basically that in the form of a video game. This macabre iOS game tasked you to slice-and-dice cutesy cartoon forest critters. After being banned, the game resurfaced as Kawaii Killer Plushy Edition, replacing the animals with toys. Tabemasu, the developer, said that the reason they have to do a censored rerelease is that, “killing adorable animals does not meet the App Store guidelines.”
5. Boyfriend Maker
Boyfriend Maker was an interesting experimental game using the SimSimi chatbot. Unfortunately, just like how AIs like to go haywire in movies, players end up encountering violent and sexually explicit responses from their virtual boyfriends. Developer 36You then fixed the issue, fleshed out more interactive features, and changed the app name to Boyfriend Plus after it was gone from the App Store for months.
This one is a pretty different case than other banned iOS games. Gridlee was just a simple, free prototype of a retro arcade shooter. Until people realized its running on the MAME4iOS arcade emulator. Usually, people need to jailbreak their iPhone to be able to run emulators but not any longer thanks to this “seemingly innocent” release. After the word got out, Apple immediately removed the game from the App Store.
3. Endgame: Syria
A serious, educational card-based game that attempts to cover war on Syria. As a rebel in the Syrian Civil War, you have to decide both political and military choices to try resolving the conflict. Quoting The Guardian, the game developer Auroch says it breaks App Store guidelines on games that “solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.” Auroch ends up having to drop all real-world references to be able to rerelease the game on iOS, changing its name to Endgame: Eurasia.
2. Phone Story
Another dark satirical iOS game, another ban. Phone Story unabashedly mocked the iPhone life cycle. It starts by showing miners mining conflict materials in the Congo, to the brutal treatment of Foxconn factories’ employees, and ending with “planned obsolescence” of gadgets after reaching the stores. Speaking to Wired, Molleindustria stated that the game violated three App Store rules: depictions of child abuse, objectionable or crude content, and promises to turn over a portion of the money to charity.
The latest title to be banned on the App Store. Fortnite was pulled from Apple’s storefront after Epic Games announced a payment system to bypass App Store transaction while reducing V-bucks cost from $9.99 to $7.99. As a result, Apple found the system to violate the store’s guidelines and removed the most popular battle royale game just last week. We’ve made a timeline for Epic and Apple’s ongoing battle, in case you want to know more about the full story.
Those are the most popular iOS games that end up getting banned from the App Store for one reason or another. Have you tried playing all of them? Any other titles we missed? Tell us in the comments.