Apple has rejected the iOS version of Edmund McMillen's celebrated The Binding of Isaac, according to a tweet from its publisher, Nicalis.
The Binding of Isaac was co-developed by Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. It was first released for PC in November 2011, receiving good reviews at launch and surpassing 2 million units sold within 18 months.
The iOS version has taken a long time to arrive, but Apple has taken a stand against the game's content. In a tweet published yesterday, Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez exclaimed, "C'mon wtf... Apple," alongside a screenshot of the rejection.
Apple's reasoning? "Your app contains content or features that depict violence towards, or abuse of, children, which is not allowed on the App [Store]."
C'mon, wtf... Apple pic.twitter.com/aEygkjqH2b— Tyrone Rodriguez (@tyronerodriguez) February 7, 2016
The Binding of Isaac is loosely based on the biblical story of Isaac. In the game, the player character is a young boy whose fanatically religious mother is convinced she need to kill her son by a voice in her head, which she believes to be the voice of God. Isaac manages to escape into the basement, with the actual game effectively a fight against monsters conjured by his own fear and anxiety.
This is presumably why Apple saw fit to reject the game, though Rodriguez was quick to highlight an example of what he saw as a similar case: Telltale's The Walking Dead, which has been available through the App Store for more than three years.
The Walking Dead on iOS=violence against children pic.twitter.com/GwRAFnZD6r— Tyrone Rodriguez (@tyronerodriguez) February 7, 2016
As with so many examples of Apple rejecting games from the App Store, the problem is not so much the content guideline as its application. In December 2014, Lucas Pope's Papers Please was rejected over depictions of nudity, the ruling completely disregarding the non-sexualised context in which the nudity is shown. The sex education game HappyPlayTime was also rejected on similar grounds.
The App Store's rule about the depiction of violence towards and abuse of children was also invoked in the case of Molleindustria's Phone Story, a game about the dubious practices involved in the manufacturing of smartphones. It showed children put to work in Coltan mines, and the working conditions in factories run by companies like Foxconn.