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


Apple’s app review process is still broken, and it’s game developers paying the price.

As we reported yesterday, Apple still presides over an approvals process that causes game developers unnecessary grief every day by wasting time and money on rejections and appeals.

Remember, games make up a significant chunk of Apple’s Services revenue, which generated $20.77bn in the last quarter alone – an all-time high. This is certainly not a resourcing issue.

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

Unless game developers complain more loudly and more publicly, there’s very little incentive for Apple to invest in improving these processes; it’s been a problem for so long that developers have learned to just roll their eyes and work through it.

So in the spirit of moving things forward, we asked a variety of sources from studios large and small what they’d do to fix app review. This is what they said – their comments are anonymous to protect relationships.

“They need to scale the operation. Apple have the resources to increase the review team and improve the training so days and months of developer time is not squandered on inconsistent and inaccurate responses.”

“We are always struggling from the lack of information they provide when rejecting a game. Google always sends supporting materials, videos, descriptions and how to find certain critical issues. Apple doesn’t even need to go far to get ideas – just look at the closest competitor and take their best practices!”

“They need to be consistent and provide more actual examples in their guidelines of what is and isn’t okay.”

“They need to hold the review team accountable for their mistakes – review the review team. Why should we submit the same build multiple times just because they do not take the time to properly review something?”

“We’d like to see them do two things: train reviewers to be consistent across apps and provide more actual examples that demonstrate policy violations or abiding.”

“I think stores need some sort of partner programme where indie game developers can get a representative who acts like a go-between with the app stores and the devs. Currently, the vague and frustrating guidelines disproportionately punish people who want to tell nuanced and difficult stories with their games. We need app stores to be willing to have difficult conversations about what counts as pornography and violence and we need those conversations to be led by people with experience making games about those themes.”

“Something simple that Apple could do that would massively help developers and themselves: if an app is due to be featured and has had an asset request, it should get flagged for priority review. That way when developers fix last minute bugs they can get them live asap.”

“They should just make a higher tier of certified developer program for developers with existing, successful games. I’ll pay the money just to make all these stupid checks go away.”

“Apple should understand that the way they are running their app review operations puts companies and people’s jobs at risk. Having to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing when the next rejection will come, often for an app that has been live for years, and not being able to communicate with them to resolve issues is a horrible situation to be in. It feels like app reviewers wake up thinking: “today I’m gonna reject everything”, not even reviewing the game properly or even looking at the comment field. At the same time you see the big brands being allowed to break all the app store guidelines and still being featured heavily. We are all writing this anonymously due to fear of damaging the relationship – I hope Apple will see these reactions and rather than being defensive, listen and work together with the industry to improve the situation.”

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