Palestinian developer Rasheed Abueideh was notified by Apple that his indie game, Liyla and the Shadows of War, was not suitable for the App Store. They say the game, a platformer about a girl living in the Gaza Strip, is “not appropriate in the Games category. It would be more appropriate to categorize your app in News of Reference for example.” Furthermore, Abueideh was instructed by Apple to remove any the verbiage about the app being a game from its description and marketing.
After Abueideh announced Apple’s decision on his twitter, his feed filled with people supporting his game and expressing their outrage over Apple’s decision. One user tweeted about the hypocrisy of Apple’s decision, pointing out that there is currently a game that was approved by their censors called Israeli Heroes, an Angry Birds clone where people play as Israeli rockets.
This is not the first time Apple has censored games for “questionable” content. Papers, Please, a game about checking passports at a border crossing, initially ran into trouble for its non-sexual depiction of pixelated nudity. Apple did eventually let the game into the app store with all of its content intact. They also rejected Edmund McMillen’s critically acclaimed game The Binding of Isaac for depicting “violence towards, or abuse of, children.”
Liyla and the Shadows of War won a Reboot Develop 2016 indie award for visual excellence. The game is available for free in the Google Play store.