Apple is making "improvements" within its App Store which, in this case, involve removing games from the store which it deemed non-functional, outside of the guidelines in place within the App Store, or those that are outdated. It's that last part that seems to be causing frustrations within the mobile gaming community given that this new stance means that a game which is no longer being worked on but is still playable could, in theory, be taken out of the App Store based on these rules.
The prospect of that happening is already more than just a theory, too, since it's been reported this week that that's exactly what's going on. Protopop Games, the creator of mobile games such as Wilderness and the Nimian Legends series, shared on Twitter (via GamesRadar) that an email had been received from apple saying another of their games, Motivoto, was being removed from the App Store "because it's more than 2 years old."
"This app has not been updated in a significant amount of time and is scheduled to be removed from sale in 30 days," the email screenshotted in the tweet below read. "No action is required for the app to remain available to users who have already downloaded the app."
I feel sick. Apple just sent me an email saying they're removing my free game Motivoto because its more than 2 years old.— Protopop Games (@protopop) April 23, 2022
It's part of their App improvement system.
This is not cool. Console games from 2000 are still available for sale.
This is an unfair barrier to indie devs. pic.twitter.com/7XNcLfiEcR
The message continued to say that the app could be kept up on the App Store if an update was issued for review within 30 days. That guideline is reflected over on the "App Store Improvements" page on Apple's site which outlines this method of keeping an app within the store and other details. It's not immediately clear from that how long an app can remain on the App Store after getting refreshed with an update in that manner. It did specify that the apps that get removed will still be usable by those who've already got them downloaded.
"Your app will remain fully functional for current users," the guidelines said. "They will experience no interruption to services and will still be able to buy in-app purchases. However, we recommend that you update your app as soon as possible to reinstate it on the App Store and ensure that it remains functional and engaging for new and existing customers."
This instance of games being removed from their digital marketplace leads to one of the the latest grievances people have with how these games are preserved. This problem isn't limited to mobile games either with Sega announcing just this week that several Sonic the Hedgehog games would be removed from sale ahead of a new collection's release.