Another wrong-headed rejection: Apple denies Endgame Syria

Caught in the crossfire.

It’s going to be tough to make serious games for iOS if this keeps up.

Apple’s app guidelines have once again tripped up the release of a strategy game rooted in a real-world conflict. Auroch Digital’s Endgame Syria (which we first talked about back before Christmas) has been rejected by Apple’s approvals team for violating guidelines section 15.3, “solely target[ing] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity”. If section 15.3 sounds familiar, it’s because it was the clause invoked when Cupertino said no to Pacific Fleet back in September – the game ran afoul of the guidelines for including Japanese flags in a WWII naval sim.

“Our aim is to use games as a format to bring news to a new audience and submission processes such as this do make it a lot harder for us,” developer Tomas Rawlings said in a statement. “I get that Apple want to make sure really offensive titles don’t pass into their store, but ours is far from that.” No kidding. Endgame Syria is necessarily more sensitive than Pacific Fleet was because it deals with an ongoing conflict – but it’s obviously not hate speech.

No one pretends that the App Store approvals folks have an easy job – and Apple’s market has a much better signal-to-noise ratio than Android’s Google Play Store because of their efforts – but insensible application of this particular guideline is thwarting too many innocent devs. Cupertino needs to re-examine how this guideline is applied.

The possibility exists that this isn’t a false positive, I suppose – Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is a noted iPad aficionado. Maybe Apple doesn’t want to anger a good customer.

If you want to play Endgame Syria right now, there’s an iOS-friendly HTML 5 version on Auroch Digital’s website, and Android users can get it on the Google Play Store for their devices.