Apple Rejects Tank Battle 1942, Then Approves; Shows How Stupid The iOS Approval Process Is

from the frenemies dept

It’s not much of a secret that Apple sees itself as some kind of supreme overlord of apps for its iProducts. And that supreme overlord has some very puritanical views, it seems: no nudity, no literature, and no immoral comics (censorship claims based solely on Apple’s pure-as-the-driven-snow morality indexer). Far be it from a silly little human like myself to question whether our overlords’ iron-grip is good for the app ecosystem, but with all the questionable decisions that seemed to be made in the name of the app approval process, perhaps it’s time for a more democratized solution, like letting customers decide whether they want something or not.

I say that because when we’ve reached the point that a World War 2 strategy game is initially rejected for app store inclusion for the sin of having Nazi enemies in the game, we’ve reached an absurdity level typically reserved for Monty Python sketches.

Hunted Cow Studios chief Andrew Mullholland just sent me screenshots of the status of Tank Battle: East Front 1942, the followup to the WWII wargame we just reviewed last week. Apple has rejected the game for having Germans and Russians in it. I’m not kidding.

We found that your app contains content or features that include people from a specific race, culture, government, corporation, or other real entity as the enemies in the context of the game, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, we noticed your app depicts real entity as the enemies.

Apple…come on. They’re Nazis. Somewhere between playing war as children, playing video games, watching movies, or pretending they’re Indiana Jones, roughly every damned person on the planet has either pretend-killed a Nazi or watched a Nazi getting pretend-killed. That’s what Nazis are for. You want a little mildly violent entertainment, but you need a fall-guy to shoot at so your friends and family won’t think you’re a jerk…boom, Nazis! This initial rejection was all the more silly since the game is set in a historical period when half the world was at war with, you guessed it, the Nazis!

Now, because not everyone at Apple is a lobotomized monkey that’s been dipping into Steve Jobs’ left-behind liquor cabinet, the decision to reject the game was quickly reversed.

Andrew Mulholland just wrote in to say that Apple re-reviewed the game and have reversed their decision without Hunted Cow Studios having to make any changes. Common sense prevails. Tank Battle: East Front 1942 will be on the App Store tonight at midnight.

Nonsense. In what world is it common sense prevailing for this to have ever happened to begin with? The whole censorious process is an amalgam of frustrated confusion, created only because Apple wants to play parent rather than letting their child of an app store go free and grow up. We’re talking about an entire situation that never need have happened, and we’re calling it a win for common sense?

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Comments on “Apple Rejects Tank Battle 1942, Then Approves; Shows How Stupid The iOS Approval Process Is”

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Android Owner says:

I can’t see the issue here. Apple can do what they want with their system, and you have the choice to buy into it or not. And the Apple employee who rejected the initial game was following the company policy, and the developer was able to appeal and get it approved. The system worked. No harm, no foul. Nothing to see here. Let’s move on.

Android Owner says:

Re: Re: you have the choice

Or you can jailbreak the phone. It just seems like a non-issue. Let’s face it, you have options here just like you do with your car. You could change the propulsion unit in your car, but you do it at your risk. Otherwise you stick with the parts and operation defined by the mfg.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I can’t see the issue here.

The only issue here is that this choice of behavior by Apple should be shouted from the rooftops far and wide.

If Apple is not proud of this behavior, then they should stop it.

If Apple is proud of it, then they should not have any problem with publication of it.

If Apple is not proud of this behavior, but does have a problem with publication of it, then maybe Apple should re evaluate their own practices. If the first two conditions hold, but they don’t want to re evaluate their practices, then this information should be published all the more loudly, far and wide.

Maybe Apple should only be trying to “protect” people from technical problems and bad practices of bad developers that want to take advantage of or inflict harm upon end users. Maybe Apple should have NO concern at all of being a morality nanny.

OldGeezer (profile) says:


I know I should have asked this on the post a while back about Germany freaking out because the South Park game failed to remove the swastikas from the German release but this is somewhat related. If the swastika is illegal in that country how to they handle things like documentaries and history books? I know that this is a part of their history they want to put behind them but they can’t deny it happened. Anyone know how their laws pertain to historical educational media?

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Automated bureaucracy

Welcome to automated bureaucracy: Where idiotic and arbitrary bureaucratic rules are coded into a computer and enforced without human intervention.

Appeal? None, of course. The rules are the rules and the computer is always right.

Oh, a handful of decisions might get reviewed by an actual person, if the publicity is embarrassing enough (better luck winning the lottery). But human reviews are expensive and the rules set in code; so soon it is back to, “No appeal.”

Such a wonderful future to anticipate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Shoot Nazis

Thousand of ghetto’s (read torture and rape centers) say a lot of them didn’t bother to fight it at all. (Yes thousands, it was actually a lot worse than what most realize)

Evil doesn’t start with death camps and all that crap. Evil starts with stupid little bureaucrats making stupid little decisions.

“Just following Policy.”

“If I don’t do it I’ll be fired, and I can’t afford to loose my job.”

“But it’s making things safer for someone(?)”

One thing which does apply from WWII is that the most efficiently evil Nazi’s weren’t the ones who pulled the trigger or fired the gas canisters in the chambers, it was instead the little bureaucrats who were just trying to make things more efficient and better.

People have the choice if they want to buy into it with apple or not, but each time apple makes these stupid decisions (and they continue to make them) it’s apple saying that we know better than you. We are better than you. We have the right to decide what you should hear and see..

That’s peoples own choice I suppose.. But it’s certainly not for me.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Shoot Nazis

Agreed. It’s odd. Somehow the very words “Nazi” and “Hitler” have become almost unique synonyms for pure evil.

Godwin’s Law has formalized this – the moment “Nazi” is mentioned in any discussion, rational debate stops and you’re in the territory of moral absolutes.

For example, we can’t complain about “Gestapo” tactics of the NSA – we have to call them “Stasi” tactics. Because NO MATTER WHAT THE REALITY, it can’t possibly be as bad as the Nazis. By definition.

Not that Nazis weren’t evil – they were every bit as horrible as their reputation.

But why are they perceived as uniquely horrible? What about Pol Pot, or Vlad the Impaler, or any number of historical conquerors who routinely murdered every single man, woman, and child in a captured city?

The Nazis were indeed evil, but the only thing unusual about their evil was how efficient they were at it and their proximity to the center of Western culture.

I can’t think of another defeated enemy that has become so demonized.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Pure-as-the-driven-snow morality indexer" My Ass

There’s no such thing as a moral corporation. Corporations are amoral.

I think you should say immoral as well as amoral.

Corporations want only one thing. To increase shareholder value. They will do anything legal or illegal to accomplish that. If they are prosecuted for illegal behavior and after the penalty the illegal behavior was still profitable, then it fulfilled the goal of increasing shareholder value. The resulting prosecution and punishment is merely a cost of doing business.

It may not sound nice, but that is how it really is done.

Anonymous Coward says:

John Fenderson
[quote]That fact isn’t very important. If you are furthering evil out of fear and duty, you are still furthering evil and deserve to be condemned for it. The only possible excuse is that you couldn’t have known you were furthering evil.[/quote]
Would you be a supporter of the foreign policy of the one nuclear and biologically armed state in the Middle East, by any chance, John?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Would you be a supporter of the foreign policy of the one nuclear and biologically armed state in the Middle East, by any chance, John?”

Why is it so hard for you to say “Israel”? That’s rather odd.

In any case, no, I’m not. Nor am I a supporter of the foreign policy of most of the nations in the area, including Palestine. Nor of the US, for that matter. When I look at nations, I don’t see very many angels.

Anonymous Coward says:

Its their hardware and software, who are you to say what they approve or disprove, especially since they are not a monopoly there are other options out there, if you don’t like apple then your free to pick android or windows phone, or blackberry

Normally techdirt talks about universal issues in this manner, what one company does is fine to have an opinion on but its not an end of the world or big deal topic but you are talking like it is.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Pure BS.

The most damning report about the percentage of malicious apps on Google Play that I can find puts it at 12.7% — and that report came from the manufacturer of security software for Android, so it should be taken with a rather large grain of salt.

I couldn’t find statistics about the percentage of iDevice apps that are malicious (which I find very weird), but we know for a fact that it’s nonzero.

In any case, it’s not true that Play Store apps lack oversight. They are vetted as well. You might debate whether or not that process should be stricter, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t exist.

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