‘Apple’s app review favours big studios, stifles competition and wastes time and money’


Colossi Games boss Manuel Prueter has accused Apple of bending app review rules to favour high profile developers, stifling competition and wasting developers’ time and money.

Last month several game developers spoke out at Apple’s broken app review process, which continues to be a time-consuming and costly problem for game-makers trying to do business on the App Store. We also recently gathered together ideas from those same developers on how Apple could fix app review if it wanted to.

Previously, developers spoke to us anonymously in order to protect their relationship with Apple. Not so Colossi Games cofounder and CEO Manuel Prueter, who is happy to go on the record about how Apple treats smaller studios like his.

See also: App review is still broken, and developers are angry: “Apple sees itself as above the law”

Last week Colossi’s game Gladiators: Survival in Rome fell foul of what Prueter calls the “infamous” ‘screenshot does not reflect gameplay’ guideline – the one designed to ensure that product page screenshots are truly representative of gameplay. The studio had previously updated the game 46 times in the last 15 months without a hitch, and had followed the rules exactly as it had before.

Colossi appealed the decision and it was let through, eventually, which Prueter says “makes the whole thing just more arbitrary”.

“To comply with these arbitrary rules, even Supercell has resorted to making actual game screenshots of Boom Beach, shrinking them to 30% of the screen real estate and surrounding them with cartoon characters and other illustrations…but they are not the game’s graphics or on-device experience,” he tells us.

See also: Game developers tell Apple how to fix app review: “Just look at Google and take their best practices”

“The Diablo Immortal team get away with fake promotion art, zero UI screenshots and get featured regularly, included in editorial collections, presented on stage…all with a store page that doesn’t tell anyone anything, other than it’s about dragon combat and hair customisation.”

“And good for them, everyone knows anyhow what Diablo is about. And understandable from a business point as well, both companies make good money and advance the experience for device users,” Prueter continues.

“My gripe is with the reviewers applying a different rule set that is stifling competition, and adding workload to developers by asking to have localised UIs for every one of the 40+ store languages. Apple gets revenue delayed or even not at all due to churn from unfair rollout times, and everyone loses time, money and fun. All because just one reviewer enforced a rule that was vague to begin with, and that was approved by dozens of colleagues before him.”

You can read more about game developers’ issues with app review plus their ideas on how to fix it through the links. We also recently spoke to Lockwood boss Halli Thor Bjornsson, who accused both Apple and Google of behaving like ‘feudal lords’.

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