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AppStore Rules becoming ludicrous

I submitted an update to my game Soulless, a run 'n' gun game. It went through fine for the Mac App Store, but I was hit with this on the iOS front.

3.6: Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected
----- 3.6 -----


Your Application Description, app icon, screenshots, or previews includes content that is not appropriate for all age groups, as required by the App Store Review Guidelines.


Since the metadata is visible to all users on the App Store, this content must meet the 4+ rating requirement, even when purchasing is restricted by a higher rating.


Specifically, it would be appropriate to remove or revise screenshots and scenes from your preview that depicts any of the following examples not suitable users of all ages browsing the App Store:


  • characters carrying guns
  • characters committing the act of killing or other form of violence
  • artwork with suggestive depiction of guttural laceration or serious injury

I mean, WTF, seriously?! So I can't even post any screens, since the only time you won't see a character with a gun would be the character select screen. But how can people see how the game actually looks if I do that? This is just ridiculous. I honestly feel they have gone too far.



  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    It's worth mentioning though, here on the AppStore you have featured on the main page GTA: San Andreas, & Deus Ex: TF, both complete with guns in their screen shots blazing... I guess these rules only apply to little guys.

  • neomanneoman Posts: 813Member
    edited December 2014

    Yeah I have had that with one of my games a while back. The Tizen store is even worse also Amazon will not run your developer select ads if your icon has a gun or not appropriate for all ages.

    Unfortunately the review process with Apple is not consistent sometimes an app will pass and another which is the same will not and you can't use that as an excuse to get your app approved. I know it is ridiculous but you are putting your app on their store and you have to play with their rules. In addition the rules are changing all the time. In the past I had screen shots with a gun and at that time it was ok.

    When this happened to me I just changed the screen shots and took the gun out. Yes it affected my downloads which is not good but as I said if you want to list your apps on their store you have to play with their rules ... :disappointed:

  • jigglybeanjigglybean Posts: 1,584Member

    It makes sense. GTA is a rated 18 game. You can't expect that if your game has guns/killing etc for it to appeal to all ages. Thats where the RTA comes in or BBFC in the UK.

    I had a Santa v Zombies game last year and I didn't make it available to all ages, despite it being cartoon violence, its just common sense

    Like Balls? Then click here! We've 100 coming soon

  • neomanneoman Posts: 813Member

    @jigglybean These games are not being made for all ages. They are 17+.

    The issue is with the screen shots not the app itself. The Apple review team are rejecting the app based on screen shots not being appropriate for all ages even though the app is rated 17+. In the past an app which is rated 17+ could have screen shots of guns etc now an app that is rated 17+ has to have screen shots that are appropriate for all ages. Hope that makes sense.

  • jigglybeanjigglybean Posts: 1,584Member

    Then contest it. Just because they said so, doesn't mean you can't challenge their decision. Send examples. I challenged Amazon for being stupid and came out on top.

    Like Balls? Then click here! We've 100 coming soon

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    Yeah, I'll give it a try @jigglybean. But this is so dumb, since I haven't even change the screens. They are still the same ones from the current version you can already see here.

  • neomanneoman Posts: 813Member

    That is exactly what happened with me they were the same original screen shots which were originally accepted but they didn't accept them when I updated the app and I had to change them. The rules have changed since then and Apple will not allow screen shots that are not suitable for all ages ... You can try to challenge it but I doubt Apple will back down. I'd like to know the outcome ... Good luck with it ...

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    Thanks @neoman, I'll be sure to post any news here... although I can already tell this will be lengthy.

  • zweg25zweg25 Posts: 738Member

    Why don't you just change your age rating to like 13+?

    It doesn't mean kids won't download it.

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    @zweg25‌ Thing is, it's like @neoman pointed out above. My age rating is above this, but Apple's new rule doesn't want any screen shots to have guns, regardless of rating since they make screen shots of all games/apps viewable to all ages, even if they are too young to purchase said game apparently.

  • jonmulcahyjonmulcahy Posts: 10,384Member, Sous Chef, PRO

    The nook store is like that. It's a pain but I'm surprised it took this long to be required. There are kids of all ages browsing the store, so it's gotta be friendly.

  • unbeatenpixelunbeatenpixel Game Developer Posts: 532Member, PRO
    edited December 2014

    Try again, another reviewer can accept your game. I always read this kind of story, If you think they are wrong, try another reviewer.

    Check out my games on the App Store!

    Startup Grave / Wordgraphy / Polycolor / 20 Seconds / Minimal Maze / Lokum

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    The thing the really gets me is... it's a closed environment. Apple has full control of the hardware and software. Why don't they filter App Store listings based on age if this is such a great concern?

  • colandercolander Posts: 1,610Member
    edited December 2014

    The store doesn't know a child is looking at it. If a child is logged in on child's account the store could filter it otherwise it can't know if a child or adult is looking at it.

  • Tiny_IdeasTiny_Ideas Posts: 326Member

    This is what's wrong. Its you. No respect for apples rules. You are the one using their company and software. Show some respect and follow the rules.
    Of course you can't have pictures of guns for a 4 year old. So put the correct rating of 13+.

    Parents complain because there child sees or downloads stuff that shouldn't be allowed on 4+ ratings. Its because of developers like you who think you can do what you want.

    The reviewer is doing is actual job. If you re submit and get approved the reviewer isn't doing his job. I speak with people from apple all the time about people on the forums not fixing anything and submitting again. I just let them know the developers name and game and a link. It may or may not do much but you bet it stops people like you and so many others.

    I speak with guys at fire mint (fire monkeys) about clone template art. I spoke to the developers of Dash Up about clones. People complain indie developers don't get enough attention. There is a reason why for that.

    I hope you take the time to take the required actions to fix and follow the rules.


  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    @Tiny_Ideas Please note that it has already been stated in a few posts that my rating is NOT 4. Apple now wants all screen shots of any game, regardless of rating to adhere to a 4+ rating.

  • colandercolander Posts: 1,610Member
    edited December 2014

    @Tiny_Ideas I don't think he is complaining about the rating of his game it's the 4+ rating Apple applies to meta data for all apps regardless of the apps rating. Agree it is their store and they can set their rules as they see fit as long as they comply with the law. People can then vote with their feet if they don't like it.

    This may seem unfair to some at first glance but there is no other way for Apple to prevent children from seeing apps out of their age group but the can control what everyone sees.

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    @colander I do get that. But then why feature games like GTA, Deus Ex, Monster Dash, etc, all with guns in their icons and/or screen shots right on the main page for all to see. Then tell me, my virtually unknown game isn't allowed to have any screen shots (as a run 'n' gun game there aren't any gameplay shots I could post under those rules).

  • colandercolander Posts: 1,610Member

    You could try using the Resolution link and point that out to them and see what they say.

  • unbeatenpixelunbeatenpixel Game Developer Posts: 532Member, PRO

    @Tiny_Ideas I don't think you understand the issue.

    Apple said guns image could not be in any screenshot even if game for +17.

    So if you say something like that, you have to treat everyone equally.

    When Gta San Andreas submit screenshot with guns.It's ok but CobraBlade submit the appstore same screenshot with +17, ovvv stop you're breaking the rules!

    this is just unfair.

    Check out my games on the App Store!

    Startup Grave / Wordgraphy / Polycolor / 20 Seconds / Minimal Maze / Lokum

  • Tiny_IdeasTiny_Ideas Posts: 326Member

    Two sides to every story. . .

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    My initial reply in the Resolution Center was

    Okay, this has caught me by surprise. This is just an update, the icons and screenshots are all still the same.

    This is a run 'n' gun game, there aren't any moments that your character doesn't have a gun. Does this mean I have to delete all the screenshots and have none, to even submit this update?

    The response I received was

    Thank you for your feedback. We have re-evaluated your app's metadata and found that these screenshots and preview contents are not appropriate at 4+ for general users browsing on the App Store, as specified by guideline 3.6.

    We are unable to offer specific suggestions on how to best present your app, but we recommend that you explore any gameplay scenes or footages that do not include such material not suitable for 4+ users browsing the App Store, such as screenshots of game UI menus, game scenes where the characters are not carrying guns or engaging in violence, depictions of serious injury, etc.

    We look forward to reviewing your revised application.

    @Tiny_Ideas‌ I too am interested to hear the other side of this "story" so replied with.

    Would it be okay if I just pixelate/censore out the guns?

    But I'm still confused about this rule though. If this rule is in place, why is it that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, XCOM: Enemy Within, Deus Ex, The Fall, and Monster Dash, games that are all featured on the App Store's main page, all have guns in their screenshots?

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    And the official response to featuring apps that don't follow those same guidelines.

    Thank you for your response. The App Store Review Guidelines is a living document and as such, may be subject to change.

    We have found that these imagery are not appropriate for 4+ users browsing the App Store, and therefore, it would be appropriate to revise or remove these imagery. We are unable to provide further feedback of detailed suggestions on how to best present your app as we are unable to provide accurate assessment until changes you have made has been submitted for review through the normal review process.

    On occasion, there may be apps on the App Store that don't appear to be in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. We work hard to ensure that the apps on the App Store are in compliance and we try to identify any apps currently on the App Store that may not be. It takes time to identify these occurrences but another app being out of compliance is not a reason for your app to be.

  • ogreofwartogreofwart Hello Everybody on the Gamesalad Planet. I come in peace, warts'n'all!!! Lancashire UKPosts: 281Member

    This is just utter crap.
    One rule for the big "GUNS" and one for everyone else.
    Hypocracy rules when money comes into play and if you have the power to govern what is seemed to be right and are willing to be bribed then this is what you get.
    Censorship ultimately lies in the hands of the service provider not the developer, they should, if they are so concerned, make provision for ALL not just a few.
    Look at the example of cartoons such as "Road Runner" and "Tom and Jerry" for violence, it is in a comic and unreal sense and should be taken that way, such as games are unreal too.
    I cannot believe that the App store can take themselves serious over screenshots depicting a weapon, just because a juvenile can gain access to it, when we see so much violence on the news, that is real.
    Gripe over :\

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    I don't even really know how to respond to that reply. I mean to say on occasion submissions slip through the cracks, after I just name 4 games they even featured on their main page making this whole rule invalid and pointless...

  • Tiny_IdeasTiny_Ideas Posts: 326Member

    I can completely understand the frustration. However there are far too many games with or about guns for this to be an issue.
    I think there is nothing missing that causing the issue.
    And my guess it has something to do your rating not being entered to 13 or 17+.
    To me thats the issue they have with it is that in your submission you say Anyone can play it. But apple is telling you it is not suited for little kids and you need to change your rating etc

  • CobraBladeCobraBlade Posts: 97Member

    @Tiny_Ideas‌ You'd think so, but the representative is saying the preview material has to be suitable for 4+ since anyone can browse the store and see it. In the rules it says

    Since the metadata is visible to all users on the App Store, this content must meet the 4+ rating requirement, even when purchasing is restricted by a higher rating.

    My rating is 12+ according to the check list I filled out, I ticked frequent fantasy violence and frequent horror themes since they both apply. I'd happily check something else if this was their issue... sadly it isn't.

    If this rule was really enforced, I'd happily go along... but it feels wrong to be singled out like this when the opposite is glaring me right in the face. I mean the games I pointed out that don't comply with this rule, I didn't even have to search for. They were right there under featured games.

  • ZipfrazzleZipfrazzle Posts: 11Member

    @CobraBlade‌ Here's my 2 cents on this:

    1) I took a look at the screenshots from the link you provided in the original post. Is that a decapitated head with blood splurging around the screen? Have you tried taking that out?

    2) From what you have posted, you seem to have indicated your screenshots have been the same. Is it correct to interpret that, your screenshots had been ok and approved in the past, hence your surprise? If so, then how do you know this shift in standards (if that's what's going on) isn't being applied wide-spread and other people are not having the same conversations are you are, and with the other games you are pointing out having been approved from the past, as your game was?

    I'm all for having a critical eye to those in power its how we make sure the system, our society, and everything along with it is fair and just, but the facts presented here so far just don't seem to line up to warrant jumping to the assumptions made.

  • RPRP Posts: 1,990Member
    edited January 2015

    "AppStore Rules becoming ludicrous" and "Apple now wants all screen shots of any game, regardless of rating to adhere to a 4+ rating"

    You are winning about Apple's policies while being totally in the wrong.

    Complaints about Apple and their policies shoud be on the Apple Developer forums, not here. If you have legitimate complaints that other developers agree on, that's place to make it heard. Just a word to the wise, you'd likely get harsher treatment on those forums than here if your complaint is similar to what you have posted about here.

  • stragstrag Posts: 563Member, PRO
    edited January 2015

    What the f~*k!!! This is starting to really P me off. Google is just as bad.
    What kind of fluffy, sterile overly protective society are we ambling towards? Soon every horror film in HMV will be forced to have a fluffy bunny rabbit on the front cover for fear of scaring a poor innocent child who may wander in...ridiculous
    I think a bunch of us developers should create our own app store...for grown ups!

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