The Lazy Security Patrolling Apple’s App Store

The Lazy Security Patrolling Apple’s App Store

This past weekend, readers alerted us to an absolutely contemptible ripoff on the iTunes App Store. Someone had submitted a straight-up copy of the Canabalt flash game, called it Canabalt HD — which doesn’t exist on the iOS. Once again, some unscrupulous dick managed to slide Adam Saltsman’s game past Apple’s mall security. The fact it happened on Memorial Day weekend in the States, when a takedown might take longer to enact, stunk of a deliberate scam.

The bogus app was later removed, but probably only because readers like you and sites like ours spotted the outrage and gave it enough publicity that some pencil-pusher in Cupertino finally noticed. We — meaning readers, gamers and the speciality press — seem to be the only ones who give enough of a damn to police this stuff. Apple sure as hell doesn’t. Why would it? That doesn’t make them any money.

Apple seems to care only that there isn’t porn in an app. That, we are clear on. Because I have to wonder how someone whose job is to evaluate the content of a video game wouldn’t know that someone other than Valve submitting a game titled Counter Strike — which turned out to be nothing like the game depicted in its screenshots — is a thief. It’s an extremely ironic commentary on Mac gaming’s obliviousness and naiveté that Apple would be so unaware of a bedrock PC title.

But that may not even factor into it. My only guess is that their bureaucracy goes into the game, looks for boobs, sees none and rubber stamps it. Only it’s not just boobs that’ll get you quarantined at iTunes’ absurd Ellis Island, which seems designed to deliver us as much wretched refuse as possible.

The game Childhood’s End, an actual game made by an actual developer who wasn’t actually stealing someone else’s work, was held up not because of porn. It wasn’t held up because it actually had a depiction of Pedobear in it. It’s because its bear character reminded someone of Pedobear. Apple panicked and forced the developer to re-illustrate the bear character. How the game could have served as a potential “recruiting tool for paedophiles”, a patently ridiculous fear, was unexplained.

That’s what Apple is interested in: soothing the fears of hypersensitive idiots. Not the fact it is a pass-through for actual dishonest behaviour.

Why should you care, beyond the fact that Apple’s stupid implementations of short-sighted, opaque policies deeply insults the customer’s intelligence? Because while the volume of apps and games, good and bad, derivative, infringing, stolen or original, all make Apple a hell of a lot of money in the 30 per cent they get from each sale, it creates a perilous environment for both consumer and honest developer.

Neither are given any protection from dishonest sellers using Apple’s infrastructure. And I don’t buy logic that suggests Apple’s wonderful democratising of application publishing somehow makes this kind of exploitive dishonesty acceptable.

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam. Let yours out in the comments.


  • Well said.

    I also get irritated every time I see a ripoff “lock your screen” app in the top 25.

  • Apple nee to address this or it’s likely the developers will eventually get together and force apple to do something. By not policing they are in effect condoning illegal activity.

  • I’d rather live with more porn than the fake games on the iOS App Store. The conspiracy theorist in me suspects that they just don’t care if it steps on someone else’s IP. There is no way they wouldn’t have suspected that Pokemon Yellow was a rip-off, Nintendo partnering with Apple would be front page news. But they let it slide, so some scumbag makes bank and they pocket 30%.

    If Apple’s puritanical and sensitive enough to veto an app due to ‘pedobear’, then they can do a better job policing their own closed system. Either you go the Wild West Android route where I get both my emulators and porn, or keep your closed garden both clean and pirate-free. You can’t have both.

  • Canabalt HD is actually on the Google Play store as well, i was almost tempted to buy it today, if not for this article

    • That is the legitimate game – it has updated graphics for the re-release on Android.

      Check the developer in the market listing if you’re unsure if something is legit.

  • Apple just reacts to things they think will tarnish their image. If it won’t, they etude it ask the way to the bank. I quite dislike apps in general.

    • Finally, someone sane! Applications have truly been a curse on both the phone and the computer, I’m with you, abolish apps, abolish app stores and let everyone code their own OS from the ground up!

  • There’s not really a whole lot that can be done to police this, other than close the market off and begin a strict, expensive licencing system like consoles have, which defeats the entire purpose of the marketplace.

    How can Apple know whether the submitter of the app has ripped it off or not? Even if it is identical to an existing game on another platform it’s impossible for them to tell who is submitting the game. It could be a legitimate stakeholder submitting the title from an alternative account, or just from an account that is named differently than the game’s origin.

    The only way the market can work is by vetting games for malicious or pornographic content and then responding to complaints if a clone or something is uploaded. The only thing they really need to improve is their response time.

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