Apple is about to destroy its rich mobile gaming legacy

These are tough times for app developers. A few weeks ago, several of them received an ultimatum from Apple: they must update their app within 30 days or it will be removed from the App Store.

It seems that the company has decided to get rid of any software that hasn’t been updated in the last two years, although the support document on App Store enhancements refers more vaguely to the removal of apps that are “deprecated”.

For now, no one knows how many apps might be removed for being deprecated or for any of the other criteria listed in the support document.

Also mentioned is the removal of apps that no longer work as intended, something one would expect would already be in place in a rigorous and well-run store that customers can trust.

But there are probably many. One estimate is that around 70% (more than 1.5 million apps) have not been updated in three to five years, and many more have not been updated in the last two. It could become a massacre.

The theory with which Apple justifies this crusade is hard to argue with. Nobody wants the App Store to have software expired and poorly made, and separating the wheat from the chaff is a sensible idea that should have been applied years ago.

But basing this on the time since the last update is wrong. This theory will include apps that work perfectly and whose developers don’t have the time or resources to push an update to an app that is no longer profitable (or perhaps never was). At the same time, it will remain easy to attack by unprincipled scammers with a few more programmers on staff.

The thing is that it is not so easy to fix the problem of apps malfunctioning. The sad reality that the owners of all the huge stores in software is that significant resources must be devoted to monitoring the quality of software or accept that most of them will be bad.

To decide what is of acceptable quality and what is not, you need humans at work or a very sophisticated algorithm. A scalpel is needed, not a mallet.

Burning the Library of Alexandria

A few days ago, it came to light that texas hold’eman iOS game developed internally at Apple, appeared to violate the company’s own rules.

It was last updated in October 2019, which could change in the near future if Apple wants to avoid the embarrassment of removing, or making an exception, with its own app. But that’s the tip of the iceberg of classic games about to be wiped out.

Looking through the game folders on my iPhone and iPad, it’s surprising how many apps I’ve found that haven’t been updated in the last two years. I sincerely hope this changes, but these could be removed soon:

Please note that all these games work fine on my devices. In fact, the worst thing you can do is not download any of these that you haven’t played, and you might in case they disappear next month.

There will be hundreds more examples. Search for the games you like the most and you will surely find more. I must point out that Apple is not going to take them away from you. Users who have previously downloaded one of those apps will still be able to use it, and it may even be back on the App Store in the future if the developer updates it. But new players will be denied the pleasure of discovering many of these games, which is a tremendous shame.

This is the second time so many apps have been removed after 32-bit apps were removed in 2017, and it’s hard not to notice that Apple, at a corporate level, doesn’t really like games.

It’s unfortunate, as the company, seemingly by accident, found itself just over a decade ago in possession of the largest gaming platform in history.

With its low cost of entry and rich user base, the App Store attracted many game developers. indie talented and there was an unprecedented explosion of creativity.

The fruits of that creativity should be preserved, and it’s worrying that Apple has shown so little interest in doing so. It wouldn’t be particularly difficult.

As Craig Grannell, a contributor to MacworldApple could have easily acquired GameClub, a subscription service dedicated to restoring and preserving classic retro games, funded it properly, and integrated it into Apple Arcade.

But Arcade was designed from the ground up to focus on the new. Even later, when the company added older games with slightly new names, it focused on the classics that were still going strong, rather than the ones that were in danger of disappearing from the store.

In most cultural settings, age is not considered a negative thing. We still watch silent movies and read poems in dead languages. Many artists have fought to be taken seriously while they are alive.

But Apple, for some reason, still thinks that games have a shorter life than a good pair of shoes. And the removal of the treasures from the App Store is nothing short of cultural vandalism.

Original article published on Macworld.