Apple has been embroiled in a slew of legal battles of late, ranging from recent spats with Facebook’s parent company Meta to a long-running legal battle with Fortnite publisher Epic Games. The tech behemoth appears to be on the outs with an increasing number of developers and consumers. The new App Store Improvements initiative, which calls for the deletion of most products from the Apple App Store that haven’t been updated in the past two years, is only making matters worse for developers.
Many app developers are concerned that Apple’s decision to simplify its digital storefront is an attack on the concept of a finished product. Motivoto, a mobile game developed by Protopop Games and scheduled for termination on April 22, 2022 unless a new update is submitted, has been one of the most vocal about the issue. As a result, Protopop Games claims, smaller developers are unfairly burdened by this initiative because they may lack the resources to constantly update older games.
Protopop Games went on to admit that working to remove non-functional apps or scam apps is a good idea. Apple’s procedures, on the other hand, are still highly suspect. There appears to be no clear distinction between a real improvement and an update; many independent developers will now be forced to submit ostensibly useless updates to ensure that their games remain available on Apple’s App Store. Apple reportedly made more money in 2019 than Xbox, Sony, and Nintendo combined, so its sudden interest in supplanting its mobile app ecosystem seems questionable.
A statement from Apple says it wants to “ensure that apps available on the App Store are functional and up-to-date,” but it does not go into detail about what constitutes a functional and up-to-date application. Apple devotees have speculated that a major App Store update is on the horizon, and the company is working to ensure that everything available on the platform will be compatible with the new version. A popular game with a large following, was rendered unplayable on certain Apple devices for a period of time due to a problem with the game’s updates.
While this is a positive development for developers, it sets a troubling precedent for Apple users as well. Not only is a requirement for periodic updates inconvenient at best and financially burdensome at worst for smaller developers, but it also raises concerns about the long-term preservation of video games. As a result of Nintendo’s recent decision to close the digital storefronts for the 3DS and Wii U, gamers are scrambling to download specific titles before they are no longer available, and the same phenomenon appears to be occurring on Apple’s mobile app store.