Apple yesterday removed an app from its store, despite that app being popular enough to have hit the number one spot on the App Store charts. The reason? Well, it’s not another case of Dong Nguyen and his cowering retreat from the overwhelming attention his massively popular Flappy Birds received.
No, it was all Apple’s doing this time. The app in question was Weed Firm, an iOS game in which players grow and sell their own marijuana crops and find themselves dealing with gangsters and other shady characters while doing so.
The game’s developer, Manitoba Games, released a statement detailing the company’s disappointment at the move. The biggest complaint? That many other games depicting illegal activity continue to live unassailed in the App Store.
“As you might have noticed the game is no longer available on the Apple App Store. This was entirely Apple’s decision, not ours. We guess the problem was that the game was just too good and got to number one in All Categories, since there are certainly a great number of weed-based apps still available, as well as games promoting other so-called ‘illegal activities’ such as shooting people, crashing cars and throwing birds at buildings,” read the statement.
The bizarre image of birds being chucked at edifices aside, the company has a point. Even the most cursory browse through the App Store shows you can currently still enjoy the delights of such games as iRoll Up Friends, Weed Farmer, Ganja Farm and Weed Tycoon.
This is reminiscent of the kerfuffle that followed the aforementioned Flappy Birds‘ removal from the website, when Apple prevented some copycat games from cashing in, but not others. Then, as now, developers called foul and accused Apple of double standards or, at best, inconsistency.
Manitoba is determined not to take its dismissal lying down, promising to revamp the game to comply with Apple’s restrictions, while emphasising that the game was always intended for adults. “We do not want kids playing Weed Firm, but we firmly believe that adults should have a choice to do whatever the hell they want as long as they are not hurting anybody in the process,” says Manitoba.
Apple, of course, definitely tends towards the tree-hugging, earth-loving side of things when it counts. It is justifiably proud of its track record and ongoing achievements in the area of sustainability and green business practices, proudly releasing its Supplier Responsibility Report, marking Earth Day with environmental messages and, most notably, getting a big tick from Greenpeace this year for its ever increasing green and environmentally friendly operations.
And we know it comes from the top. The generally mild-mannered Tim Cook surprised many in the March annual shareholders’ meeting when he made an impassioned response to a representative from a conservative think tank who questioned him about profitability. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI,” snapped Cook, referencing such areas as environmental issues and worker safety, before proclaiming, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
But… all of this still doesn’t make them hippies.