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Apple asked to remove Philippines drug war games from App Store

Anti-drug organisation ANPUD demands an apology from Apple for handling "insensitive content"

Apple has been asked to remove games based on the war on drugs being waged in the Philippines by president Rodrigo Duterte.

Reuters obtained an open letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook by the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ANPUD), which has obtained support for its cause from 131 organisations across the world.

In the letter, ANPUD cited a number of games that use the Phillipines' real war on drugs for inspiration. According to Human Rights Watch, president Rodrigo Duterte's policies have led to the deaths of more than 7,000 people, at least 2,555 of which are attributed to the Philippine National Police - led by Ronaldo "Bato" dela Rosa.

"These games valorise and normalise the emerging tyranny of Duterte's presidency and his government's disregard for human rights principles," ANPUD wrote, referring to games like Duterte knows Kung Fu, Duterte Running Man Challenge, Tsip Bato and Duterte Vs Zombies.

The letter asks for Apple to remove the games, and issue an apology for allowing "insensitive content" on its store. While Apple did not respond to Reuters request for comment, the developer of Tsip Bato, Randida Games, said that it included anti-drug banners in an effort to discourage drug use.

This is hardly the first occasion on which Apple has attracted criticism for its handling of games with political subject matter; on previous occasions, though, the issue has been Apple not allowing such content on its store, or - in the case of Liyla & the Shadows of War - showing a reluctance to classify the content as a game at all.

At the time of writing, all of the games mentioned were available on the App Store, as well as Fighting Crime 2, Duterte Run 3D Game and Duterminator.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.