Update: Apple's letting app subscriptions auto-renew, even after they raise the prices. here's what you need to know
Apple has started notifying developers that older apps and games may be at risk of being removed from its App Store. This comes as part of a wave of App Store improvements, aiming to make it easier for users to “find great apps that fit their needs” and are compatible with the latest and best iOS devices.
According to an email sent to Protopop Games, developer of puzzle game MotiVoto, apps that haven’t been updated for two full years are at risk of removal. The email specifies that developers have 30 days to submit an update for review to keep their apps on sale, otherwise they will be removed from the App Store entirely.
I feel sick. Apple just sent me an email saying they're removing my free game Motivoto because its more than 2 years old.It's part of their App improvement system.This is not cool. Console games from 2000 are still available for sale.This is an unfair barrier to indie devs. pic.twitter.com/7XNcLfiEcRApril 23, 2022
Apple has confirmed that this move will affect all apps, not just games. The App Store Improvements FAQ page states that the company is evaluating games to ensure they still function, follow current review guidelines, and aren’t outdated.
If issues are found, developers will be contacted with a request to make the necessary changes within the next 30 days. If the app crashes on launch, Apple will remove it from the App Store right away. Existing users, those that have already downloaded an app, will still be able to use it without issue.
Protopop Games isn’t too happy about this development, tweeting that “this is not cool”. “Console games are still available for sale. This is an unfair barrier to indie devs.”
Which is a pretty valid point, since indie developers don’t have nearly as many resources as big studios or app developers, and keeping older apps up to date can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Then again, you can understand Apple’s perspective.
The company has always maintained a tight leash over the App Store, to try and curb proliferation of poor quality apps and any nasty software that would put users at risk. That’s especially important if apps don’t actually work with modern versions of iOS.
Of course most of this would be moot if certain pirates have their way, and manage to force Apple to allow sideloading on iOS devices. While the company has insisted that this will “cripple” security protections, regulators in the EU have been pushing for this as part of the Digital Markets Act.
This is a situation that’s going to take at least several months to play out, so don’t expect things to change right away. In the meantime, the App Store Improvements should be a reminder that if there are any older iOS apps you want to keep a hold of, be sure to download them to one of your devices while you still can.