See The Anti-iPhone Game That Apple Doesn’t Want You To Play

See The Anti-iPhone Game That Apple Doesn’t Want You To Play

Earlier today, we reported the news that Apple had pulled Molleindustria’s iPhone game Phone Story from the app store. The game depicts four stages of the production of a smartphone, exposing the ugly truths of smartphone development with a frankness that is designed to make users uncomfortable.

A friend of mine managed to snag a copy of the game during the three hours it was available on iTunes and shot this video on his laptop. It shows all four sections of the game. At the start, a narrator guides players through four different sections.

Players begin in a Coltan mining facility in the Congo, and must yell at workers to keep productivity high. If you stop, the game admonishes you and says that you can’t get out of your complicity by not participating, as you are already participating by owning a smartphone.

After that, players control a safety net designed to keep factory workers from leaping to their deaths. This level is a gruesome take on the now-infamous Foxconn scandal involving suicides and other struggles of the Chinese factory workers who build many of America’s favourite electronics. (Our Joel Johnson reported extensively for Gizmodo.)

In the third phase, players take control of an Apple Store employee who hands out smartphones to charging consumers.

“Then, you purchased this phone,” the game tells the player. “It was new and sexy. You waited for it for months. No evidence of its troubling past was visible. Did you really need it [the phone] ? Of course you did! We invested a lot of money to instill this desire in you. You were looking for something that could signal your status, your dynamic lifestyle, your unique personality. Just like everyone else.”

If you fail, once again the narrator tells you, “You didn’t meet the goal. Don’t pretend you are not complicit.”

In the final level, the game walks players through the planned obsolescence of the product, and the eWaste that it generates.

We haven’t heard back from Apple about the game and why it’s no longer on iTunes, but we’ll update when we do.


  • I think the title of this post is a little misleading and biased. Would Anti-Smartphone not be slightly less inflammatory?

      • Your detector is possibly confusing the 100 million or so people that are an ‘iPhone owner’ with one ‘person that comments about use of word iPhone in Kotaku article title’.

        Of course Kotaku likes to word its titles to generate the most interest as they have done here – it’s good business sense.

        • It’s also a good object lesson in The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

          Someday Kotaku will have a legitimate and important news story which actually DOES relate to an iPhone. The question is whether anyone will still be paying attention by then.

          • Maybe so. But I’m willing to bet he/she is one, regardless.

            Apple owners defend their brand of choice ’til death. This is common knowledge.

          • There has to be better things to spend passion on in life than on hating companies.

            Ezkaton, I’m currently the owner of an Apple product, but if something comes along tomorrow that I think is better, I’ll switch to it in a heartbeat. Only fools stick to a brand for ‘loyalty’.

    • I can’t find it on the Android App Store. Since the game talks in the first person (it refers to itself) and has only been made available on iPhone, it can currently be only talking about iPhones.

      When it’s available elsewhere, then it will be Anti-Smartphone.

  • “Did you really need it [the phone]? Of course you did! We invested a lot of money to instill this desire in you. You were looking for something that could signal your status, your dynamic lifestyle, your unique personality. Just like everyone else.”

    I needed something that functioned decently, could call people and access important files in a pinch. Also gps helps a lot, as well as being able to access the internet. Those, while first world problems, are important in helping my daily life.

    I know the point they were trying to make but that section was a bit too general of a statement. (Then again I don’t use an iPhone and I think that part was mainly directed at iPhones)

  • Also this app comes across as preachy and pretentious, I’m sick of people telling me that everything I do or buy is hurting, killing or destroying something else.

    • Look up coltan mining. It’s this generations blood diamonds. Incredibly unsafe, propping up despots, evidence of slave labour.

      These people aren’t pretentious – they’re raising awareness. If you want people to stop telling you the products you buy are killing people or destroying ecosystems, stop buying those products.

      • Awareness is great, it helps bring a message forward to people, but stop buying a mobile phone altogether? Yeah THAT will work great. In fact, stop buying electronics altogether. That’ll make a difference.

        Oh wait, what’s that? People are still buying electronics in massive quantities?? But I thought I was making a difference!

        It’s awful what happens, but the solution isn’t as simple as “don’t buy the product”. That’s not going to make a real impact.

        • Thats not what I’m suggesting. Some companies are worse than others. If we, as consumers, oriented towards the least bad alternative, there would be a motivation for companies to behave ethically.

          Maybe I’m being naive, but I’d like to think people are better than “I’ll buy this product, that has been linked to suicides in Asia and slavery in Africa, because I like the apps”.

          • Yep you’re being naive, People don’t think like that. Investigative journalism that results in bad press for a large company such as Apple/Microsoft/Sony is effective, choices made by individual consumers driven for reasons like you state will never be in enough numbers to effect anything. It’ a pity, but that’s how it is.

      • “Incredibly unsafe, propping up despots, etc.”
        Kinda like the oil industry then? Do we stop buying that too? Besides, as the vid says, coltan is in almost all electronics. It doesn’t matter who you buy from. Hell, look at Foxconn. Their clients include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Intel, Nintendo, Microsoft, Acer, Dell and more, but only Apple get criticised?

  • The funny thing is, there’s absolutely nothing Apple ToS-breaking or any illegal content. This, my friends, is a good old-fashioned ragequit.

  • Biting commentary on consumerism & its pitfalls. The issues @ the foxconn factory (which Sony, Microsoft & Apple all use)should be bought to everyones attention. Bravo I say!

  • You’ve gotta love persuasive games. Next, Apple should work on a sequel from their point of view. In the first level you move basic blocks into the shape of a ‘new iPhone’. Next level, you have to keep the charging customers in line as their wait outside the Apple Shop. Next level, you have to take a press conference to explain why the quality of your phone’s reception is lacking, and that the consumers are wrong for holding it in the wrong place. For the final level, it’s Ace Attorney style, as you fight the other companies who are all selling your new phone in different colours, or with just a new name sticky taped over iPhone.

    Now who wants to explain the game from the consumer’s’ point of view?

  • Awareness is the first step toward change.
    Tute on sir, tute on. Many internets to you.

    To the people who are butthurt because they don’t like being “preached to” about their phone choice and spend bandwidth to justify themselves, toughen up girlfriends.

    Companies don’t tell the truth or think ethically when conducting business. There is only one thing that drives them, money. Everything else is secondary. Everything!

    Welcome to the real world.

    Rather than try and convince everyone here that you really are a great person why not drop a line to Apple and ask them why they pulled the game, and prove you really are socially aware.

    • Oh look another person telling me how to live my life; I don’t give a damn about any of this conservation crap.
      I have a tiny blip of existence in this universe, I’m going to spend it doing what I want, not worrying about the planet, the planet can get f**ked for all I care. And to any of you who say this way of thinking is selfish; you’re damn right I’m selfish, why should I care about all this crap, I was born in a developed nation, I’m going to live my life with as much enjoyment as possible and there’s not a thing you can do about it. So I’m going to keep throwing out all my garbage instead of recycling, I’m going to keep pouring hot oil down the drain, I’m going to keep buying products that poor people made. You hippies can keep your selfless life and when you die you’ll think back at all the wonderful things you did for the world and realise you did nothing for yourself, and guess what, there are no do overs in life, you only get one chance. After that who cares; your dead you won’t be able to see the difference you made because your dead. Your consciousness no longer exists so your not going to feel guilty or feel remorse. So stop preaching to me, because I just don’t care and I never will.

      • If you keep up that attitude, if you extend it to its logical conclusions, no one, and I mean no one, will pity your death you hedonistic piece of trash.

        • And by that I mean, you’ll have missed out on some of the more meaningful components of life – most of the good stuff. Good friend, family, work.

          You’ve got the depth of a rat, and people hate vermin.

      • I think you mean ‘you’re dead’ not ‘your dead’. Unfortunately I don’t have any dead – if I did I would send a horde of them to YOUR place 😉

      • Still don’t care, you can draw attention to my spelling mistakes and insult me all you want…but guess what…still don’t care…Yes I am Heathenism Bot in human form and I’ve come from a distant time where I ‘don’t give a shit’ about the planet or you’re opinions I am immune to your petty ramblings of ‘saving the world’ and ‘free love’ and other things hippies love.

          • I think you’ll find that I’m far from being a hippy. I think what your confusing hippy with “ass hole”. Understandable, seeing as your head is so far up your ass it must have been a while since you’ve seen sunlight.

          • TRed.. Your ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude is fine by me. You’re entitled to feel/believe anything you like.

            What I do suggest though is that you print and keep a copy of your first post, put it somewhere safe for 10years and give it to your older self.

            I know its cliche, but how old are you right now? 15/16 maybe?? You couldn’t possibly be past your teens. Of that I’m pretty confident.

            Let your 30yo self read that shit you posted and I’m sure you’ll feel very differently.

            While life is all about you right now you WILL reach a point where you see things very differently.

  • My biggest first-world-problem with this app is that Apple pulled it within three hours, proving that they have the ability and oversight to appraise the content of an app and pull it if it might affect their sales, but they leave their app store flooded with thousands of trash ‘game guide’ apps, direct clones of other quality apps, games lifted wholesale from free flash titles, or apps that blatantly don’t operate as advertised.
    Pick up your game and clean the true garbage out of your backyard first.

    • It’s very simple: Those apps you mention will make more money, this app will generate bad press. I know what I’d do.

      • I’m not saying Apple’s tactics and policies don’t make sound business sense; I’m just saying this from the perspective of a (subjectivley) intelligent and selective iPhone user, and I really enjoy these kind of incisive and informative news-games. And hate the five-star-rated ad-supported cash-spinner rubbish of “Angry Worm! :)” more than Apple’s production schedules.

        Realistically, I can’t see the Coltan mining stage being directly Apple’s fault. Corrupt and exploitative countries will always have more ways to redirect/disappear any improved pricing that Apple may offer for their precious minerals and keep their replaceable manual labour on the bottom rung.

    • I realise you think you’re being funny, but seriously, anyone in the right mind would think your a dick for saying such a poor taste joke.

  • God this is preachy. I don’t *need* a phone, or a console, or a car, or more than 2 pairs of jeans, or sunglasses, or a cup of coffee, or a tv. I *need* some food and water and to maintain the temperature of my body within a certain range.

    I think it would have been more effective If it had just ended with a list of facts about foxconn.

    • Of course its preachy, thats the whole point. You say its like its a bad thing – but the whole point is to call out individuals and companies on their behaviours.

      Would it have been more effective if it were just a list? I’m not sure, because we all know about the Foxconn problems and people keep buying iPhones despite alternative platforms.

      • Oh I’m just saying that personally I respond better to a list of facts than preaching. Maybe I’m weird and it’s the opposite for most people.

        • Yeah ghats fair enough. Lists are available if you want them. I believe green peace releases a list of socially and environment responsible companies. Nintendo and Apple trend to do very poorly, though I believe Apple had improved a bit in the last few years.

  • Regardless of whether this game would ever make a difference (and I seriously doubt it will) I think the whole point of it is only 30% to raise awareness to the plight of the third-world workers that have are being used (and as a result, abused) for corporate gain, and 70% to make iPhone owners feels bad – and they should feel bad.

  • This censorship BS has gone too far apple. Stand down or the censorship wars will arise again!

    Also, a message 2 the developers of Phone Story. I’ll buy it out of principal & support you to keep making similar games. I know the point was to reach the market where it’d make the greatest impact. If you try Android, you’ll get your awareness into the public no matter what.

    Since it would act like positive reinforcement for those users which would go onto inform the people around them about this business.

    Keep it in mind since you’ll never make it past Apples titanic injustice system.

      • They don’t have that right in most countries and they won’t be able to sustain that strategy. See what happened to Microsoft.

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