Apple has started enforcing a long-ignored rule in its App Store guidelines regarding what kinds of content can appear in app metadata. According to rule 3.6 in the guidelines document:

Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected

This rule has been mostly unenforced since the App Store launched, but according to a new report from Pocket Gamer, some app developers are starting to see their apps rejected for depictions of violence in their screenshots.


The first app affected by the change was Tempo, an action game that features heavy combat and is currently featured on the front page of the App Store. Apple requested that the developers modify the artwork to blur out any guns that appeared, resulting in images like the one seen at the top of this post.


The app’s preview video also had to be edited similarly, as seen in the GIFs above. While the rule states that all metadata content must adhere to the 4+ rating standard, it seems that hand-to-hand combat and explosions aren’t being blocked just yet.

However, Tempo wasn’t the only game to get such a response from Apple. The developers of the cartoony action game Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens also caught flak from Apple after including an image of an NES light-gun in their game’s icon. The developers tweaked the icon to remove the gun and add a baseball bat in its place. Apple accepted the revised design.


The developers at OrangePixel also found that their app didn’t meet Apple’s standards when an update to their game Gunslugs 2 was rejected for including violence in the screenshot. Unlike the other games mentioned here, however, Gunslugs features only pixel art, not any realistic characters or action.


The Gunslugs screenshot included above was the one that led to Apple’s rejection, OrangePixel says. That image has been available on the app’s iTunes page since it launched in December, but Apple only decided to take issue with it for its depiction of “violence against a human being” this week.

From the OrangePixel blog post:

I could argue here that the Gunslugs look more like flee’s [sic] with heads than anything human.. but right now I told them that’s how the game looks, in high-resolution pixel-art, and that I can either upload black screenshots or simply opt out of updating the games and tell my iOS fans that they can grab the updated content on Android, ChromeOS, Steam, Ouya or FireTV..

However, a few hours after the developers took to Twitter and their company blog to protest the rule, the game re-entered review and was cleared by Apple for release.

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