While it seems like the news cycle these days moves so fast it’s hard to keep up with what happened yesterday, let’s roll the clocks back to mid-2015 when one of the primary controversies in the US was removing as many Confederate flags and monuments as possible from public display. For some absolutely unbelievable reason, Apple joined in and removed everything from the App Store that featured a Confederate flag, including but not limited to most, if not all games involving the Civil War. This turned into such a massive story that it not only escaped gaming news circles, but escalated its way up to the mainstream media. This resulted in Apple eventually walking back those policies.
The developer who got burnt the hardest by this seemed to be Slitherine, whose catalog on the App Store consists of incredibly hardcore, and incredibly historically accurate strategy games. To make these games so historically accurate, the battles played out inside of them take place in real world scenarios. These games are very tastefully done, and often serve as fabulous educational experiences as you replay various battles from history and clearly see how miraculous a victory was or how inevitable a defeat may have been.
Well, it would seem that Apple is at it again, removing Slitherine’s Afghanistan 11 ($19.99) from the App Store due to “People from a specific government or other real entity as the enemies.” This is a particularly absurd removal because, as mentioned, Slitherine’s catalog focuses on historical accuracy. The enemies in Afghanistan ’11 are the Taliban and other insurgents, but what makes Afghanistan ’11 a truly interesting strategy game is that success is focuses more on not killing people- Instead working towards rebuilding a nation and winning over the hearts and minds of the local population, complete with the eventual withdrawal of forces entirely.
Apple have just pulled Afghanistan ’11 from the app store because its got “people from a specific government or other real entity as the enemies”. You mean like every realistic game ever…. and people wonder why we don’t do iOS anymore. https://t.co/LQjUPUkWWr pic.twitter.com/m4YRNQXyoL
— Iain McNeil (@Iain_Slitherine) December 5, 2018
Afghanistan ’11 also features 18 different campaign battles, recreating actual operations that took place in real life, like the raid that ultimately lead to the capture of Bin Laden. Again, like all Slitherine titles, these scenarios are all tastefully executed with an extreme focus on historical accuracy. Unlike many other modern video games where the enemies are just generic brown-skin terrorists, Afghanistan ’11 is firmly planted in reality.
Apple is no stranger to truly baffling moves, and it really sucks that for whatever reason it seems Slitherine has been the target of so many of them. They’re a developer who make very high quality, very expensive, completely premium games- Exactly the sort of studio you’d think they would be happy to have on the platform, instead of taking every opportunity to chase away. Hopefully they walk this decision back like they did the removal of Civil War games, but who even knows why Apple does what it does anymore.