“Project: Salvage” — Too Hot For iTunes?

BOT - Is it too hot for iTunes?In order to increase popularity of BOT, I started working on “Project: Salvage”. That’s the code name for my secret app. It was recently reviewed by Apple. But much to my surprise, it was rejected. Apparently, I made the app a bit too sexy for iTunes. I thought I was being incredibly conservative with the way I presented the app. So, I had to go back and cover up some things.

I had been on a hot-streak with Apple. In the last year, the majority of my apps were approved without incident. Yet, this was my first major attempt to create an app with sexual content and adult themes. I didn’t think it was anything major, as it is basically still cartoon quality graphics, but Apple felt otherwise.

We’ve completed the review of your app, but cannot post this version to the App Store because it did not comply with the App Store Review Guidelines, as detailed below:

  • 3.6: Apps with app icons and screenshots that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected

Wow, I missed that one. I carefully reviewed the content of my app and I even rated it cautiously. I selected “Frequent/Intense” for the “Mature/Suggestive Themes” category, which makes it a 17+ app. That rating makes my app unavailable in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. When I selected that rating, I thought I was being too prudish. I’ve seen far more objectionable content on TV or online.

iTC Mobile - BOT #1 - Rejected
A message from iTunes Connect Mobile notified me of Apple's rejection.

If Apple was an NBA basketball player, it would likely lead the league in blocked shots. Apple is notoriously picky about what they permit in their store — especially in matters of sexuality. Specifically, it’s as if Apple is allergic to breasts. Yet, I can understand their situation. This is a worldwide store. Not only is it international, it’s pretty much for all ages.

Since Apple didn’t specifically state what they disliked, I figured that the issue was likely with the outfit from one of the main female characters. With the design of the clothing, the bottom-half of the breasts were exposed instead of the top. So even though I can see the top-half of breasts while watching commercials, attending office meetings, going to a park or walking down the street, this outfit was somehow objectionable to Apple. Even more interesting, these breasts are not real. The graphics are just 3D rendered and have a cartoon-like appearance.

So after covering up my sexy character, I resubmitted my app. I thought that I would have to wait another week for the app to be reviewed again. And yet, that’s not what happened. Less than an hour later, it was back in review. Considering that Wednesday is over, I’m not sure when the app is going to be approved. It might be online this Friday or it could go through another round of rejection.

If you’re wondering what the pictures look like, the first one is the main loading screen on the app. While that image is partially covered in the iTunes App Store listing, the full version is available in the app. The second problematic image was the main app icon. I had to replace it. Yet, similar looking artwork can also be found in the game. This change to the icon might actually be a good thing, as it gives less of the story away.

Apple’s main contention appears to be with the app listing. Even though the app is set for those over the age of 17, Apple doesn’t want a wandering five year old to glance at a half-naked woman. That’s fine with me. I think Friday is a better day to launch an app than Thursday. If this is just a minor delay, I’m not really bothered about it. I think this drama adds to the coolness of the app.