Last month, Apple had send many notices to developers, warning them that their app will be removed from the company’s App Store in 30 days if they didn’t submit an update for it. The company has now extended that deadline to 90 days and has explained the rationale behind the policy in a new blog post on their website.
According to the blog post, in order for an app to be considered for removal, it needs to satisfy two criteria: First, it should not have been updated within the last three years. Second, it should fail to meet a minimal download threshold, which according to the company, means that it should not have been downloaded at all or should have been downloaded “extremely few times” over a rolling twelve-month period.
Apple justified its decision to take down such apps by giving three reasons: app discoverability, security and privacy, and user experience.
According to the company, removing outdated apps from the App Store makes it easier for users to find apps that fit their needs more closely, making newer apps more visible. The company also says that developers need to regularly update apps to take advantage of the latest security and privacy features provided by Apple hardware and software.
Further, Apple says that keeping the apps up to date helps them conform to the latest screen sizes, SDKs, APIs and other features offered on newer versions of iOS, iPadOS and macOS.
When Apple began sending these notices to developers, critics of the policy, primarily mobile game developers, argued that it should not apply to mobile games no matter what their age. These mobile game developers compared mobile games to older console games that can still be played today on compatible platforms.
To spill more ink:
* It isn’t viable for me to spend multiple days updating each of a few free small games I built in ~2014.
* MS puts in technical effort to let you run 30-yr-old Win95 apps on ARM Windows devices. This is a platform policy decision, not a technical one.
— emilia ✨ (@lazerwalker) April 23, 2022
This App Store policy will make it especially hard on indie game developers who could be working with either a small studio or just by themselves, as it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to put in the time and energy required to update multiple games from over the years, especially when they are still functioning as intended without any known defect.