Why Indie App Developers Distraught Over New App Store Policy

Apple has been causing a stir among developers with a new App Store policy. Whilst many are lauding the changes as a boon for user experiences, others feel as though indie devs in particular are being shunned from the app gaming sphere. 


The move has been dubbed the ‘App Store Improvements’ initiative, and is seemingly intended to keep the storefront as streamlined as possible by culling products that haven’t been updated in two years. In practice, this new App Store policy may well see some apps removed that are, quite simply, complete, but by no means obsolete.


A digital de-cluttering of the app store isn’t a bad idea in theory. Suffice to say there are plenty of somewhat defunct apps that have simply been abandoned by the developers as newer, sleeker models take their place. It also goes some way to stripping the App Store of apps intended to scam users.


But the added consequence is that smaller app game developers may find their hands forced as they are devoid of the time and resources but need to keep adding or altering the content of their products.


One such developer is Protopop Games, who took to Twitter to voice their concerns about how this will affect indie devs: “I’m sitting here on a Friday night, working myself to to bone after my day job, trying my best to scrape a living from my indie games, trying to keep up with Apple, Google, Unity, Xcode, MacOS changes that happen so fast my head spins while performing worse on older devices…Now I am expected, along with Google’s new program, to update all of my games every 2 years even if nothing is wrong with them.”


Protopop Games’ Motivoto is a matching puzzle game with no micro-transactions that players can download and play for free. Which is ostensibly ‘job done’ in the developer’s (and users’) eyes. But Apple has now threatened to remove the title if an update isn’t delivered within 30 days. 


The cynical takeaway from this is that Apple intends for the bigger, shinier studios to take center stage as their mostly live service products roll out updates on the regular. It gels with the spirit of nonstop innovation and growth that smaller app game devs might see no need in pursuing. 


But there are many consumers jumping to the defense of the new App Store policy. Some have offered the solution that Protopop and its ilk could simply roll out a meaningless update filled with “minor bug fixes”, suggesting that this will be sufficient to assure Apple that they’re still there and keeping abreast of any issues. 


But time will tell whether, and if so how, indie devs will keep on top of the new App Store policy. Perhaps this is a turning point for app games that will see AAA titles swallowing the little guys. But we maintain hope that this isn’t the case. 


New App Store Policy