Apple to remove apps that haven't been updated in a "significant amount of time"

"Outdated" apps have 30 days to submit an update for review or they will be deleted from the App Store

A new policy from Apple will see apps that have not been updated for a "significant amount of time" be removed from its store.

As reported by Eurogamer, the change gained public traction when highlighted by Motivoto developer Protopop Games, which received an email from Apple on Friday saying that the title "will be removed from sale in 30 days" if it's not updated within that time frame.

Protopop owner Robert Kabwe confirmed that the title hadn't been updated since March 2019 and noted that this is an "unfair barrier to indie devs."

"There was no indication of what kind of update needs to be made. Just that the app must be 'updated' or be removed," he further said. "Now I need to dig up my project file, update the Unity version to make sure it meets the App Store requirements, rebuild, retest, resubmit all to get the exact same game in the exact same place it was before."

Other developers have shared similar experiences on Twitter, with the 'App Store Improvements' page on Apple's site explaining that it is "implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated."

Developers impacted by the change will be contacted directly while "apps that crash on launch will be removed immediately from the App Store," Apple said.

A similar change was recently announced for Android, with apps that are over two years old needing to update their API target in order to stay accessible on newer devices.

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Latest comments (1)

Drew Crecente Executive Director and Founder, Jennifer Ann's GroupA month ago
Over the weekend we received a notice from Apple about one of our games. I contacted them yesterday asking for clarification and escalation -- and am hoping to hear back soon.

We are a nonprofit organization and are grateful to have a free developer's account from Apple which allows us to make our prosocial games available to iOS users without having to pay an annual fee to Apple to do so. However, as I explained to Apple Support, our games are intentionally designed to educate young people about issues like consent -- and the educational content in the games remains accurate, relevant, and helpful despite the fact that we've not updated the games recently.

As long as there are no technical problems with these games we do not believe that they should be removed from the App Store regardless of how long it has been since they were last updated. And it is impractical for us, as a small nonprofit org, to spend time unnecessarily updating resources that are not broken or inaccurate.

These games are free. They contain no advertisements. Given that Apple is waiving its annual fee for us to help us based on our nonprofit status it seems counterproductive for them to then make our mission more difficult by requiring unnecessary updates to games that are actively helping young people.

And these games and our work is something we've been doing for a while (since 2008) -- and doing it quite well given our limited means. The program through which we develop and publish these games was just this month recognized as a Top-50 innovator among all U.S. nonprofits. Our games have been recognized by Games for Change Awards and the GEE! Educational Games Awards -- and have published research in peer-reviewed journals supporting their effectiveness.

We do have more faith in Apple's approach to these issues than in Google's approach. A few months ago Google Play removed all of our games from Google Play over a period of a few weeks without advance notice. The people or algorithms responsible for this decision had decided that these educational games were not actually educational. This was a battle that I fought with Google many years ago and it was disappointing to see games that had been played and reviewed by thousands of young people treated so poorly by Google Play.

Of course we wonder if part of the issue is that, like our games at the App Store, the games were free, contained no advertisements, and had no tracking software. As Google was not able to make money from our award-winning games we wonder if that might have played a role in their abrupt, and seemingly arbitrary, removal.

We are still evaluating how to proceed with Google Play but are hopeful that Apple will be more respectful of our ongoing work to engage and help young people through free prosocial games.

Program site for Gaming Against Violence if you'd like to learn more about our work.
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