Japanese Developers Criticize Apple’s App Store Policies and Approval Process

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The ongoing dispute between Apple and Epic Games has spurred complaints from Japanese game developers about Apple’s App Store business model and the way it handles third-party app submissions.

Bloomberg reports that some developers in the Japanese gaming market have been emboldened by the dispute and are becoming more vocal about their own concerns, which including Apple’s 30% commission rate and inconsistent enforcement of App Store policies.

While Epic, publisher of the hit title Fortnite, focuses on the 30% revenue cut app stores typically take, Japanese game studios have broader concerns. They have long been unhappy with what they see as Apple’s inconsistent enforcement of its own App Store guidelines, unpredictable content decisions and lapses in communication, according to more than a dozen people involved in the matter.

According to game developers in Japan, Google’s Play Store offers a smoother approval process and better communication than the App Store. Some developers even rely on a third-party service called iOS Reject Rescue, which helps them navigate through Apple’s approval process if their app is rejected.

“Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational,” said Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory, which provides the rejection service. “While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item’s in the review queue or they intentionally keep it untouched as a sanction to a developer giving them the wrong attitude,” Shoji told Bloomberg.

Japanese developers have also been critical of the way Apple interprets what is appropriate content and say it often changes policies without advance notice. One topic in particular they take issue with is Apple’s judgement of what constitutes overtly sexualized or pornographic material. The report notes that several game studios had characters in swimsuits approved only for them to be later rejected as Apple considered them to be “sexualized.”

Apple has faced increasing scrutiny over its App Store practices from both developers and regulators in recent months. In response to the public clash between Apple and Epic Games, Japan’s antitrust regulator has said it will “step up attention” to the iPhone maker’s practices and how they affect the country’s massive mobile gaming market.

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