If you are addicted to Candy Crush on your iPhone, then you might have to find another game soon, as Apple's new app policy for the iOS 8 version of the App Store might take it down soon, along with other apps that now violate the new guidelines.
The new policy concerns some of the methods used by developers to monetise their apps, such as incentivised rating, sharing and video viewing. This includes in-app rewards for viewing videos and sharing on social networks, used by many freemium apps, including major players like Candy Crush, Temple Run, Subway Surfer and more.
According to a Techcrunch report, "Apple has begun to crack down on tools that app developers use to monetize and grow their applications. App developers are beginning to receive rejection notices from Apple's Review team that reference a couple of key sections of Apple's Developer Guidelines as to why their apps are not being accepted in the App Store."
The incident unfolded when Apple rejected a previously approved app submitted by a developer with a new skin and no change in code. Apple quoted section 2.25 and 3.10 of its Developer Guidelines to explain the rejection.
2.25: Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or to provide significant added value for a targeted group of customers.
3.10: Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.
As seen with the cited guidelines, the rejections are not only about rewarding users or promoting other apps, but also concern inappropriate methods to manipulate app ranks in App Store's charts. The new App Store (currently in beta with iOS 8) also features a new Trending section, and other forms of improved discovery such as search by keywords and category.
(Also see: 10 New iOS 8 Features Showcased at WWDC)
When the developer further asked for explanation, the Apple reviewer replied that section 2.25 is for "promoting other apps not your own," and 3.10 is for offering "free in-game credits for watching videos of other apps by developers other than yourself."
Another developer posted on the iPhoneDevSDK forum that two apps were rejected because of the above section 3.10 guideline, and the Apple reviewer detailed the reasoning, "Specifically, your app gives a free hint to users when they share the app on Facebook."
This is something Candy Crush Saga, one of the most successful apps on the App Store, does regularly - give users benefits such as extra lives for sharing their score or inviting other friends on Facebook. We wonder if Apple would treat Candy Crush Saga any differently because of its popular status, and the app being currently published is no guarantee it will remain either, as Techcrunch notes, with some apps being pulled retroactively.
An Apple rejection email reads, "On occasion, there may be apps on the App Store that don't appear to be in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. We work hard to ensure that the apps on the App Store are in compliance and we try to identify any apps currently on the App Store that may not be. It takes time to identify these occurrences but another app being out of compliance is not a reason for your app to be."
As Techcrunch notes, this could affect not just the top apps on the App Store, and developers trying to make their apps the top apps, but also mobile advertisement networks and app promotion companies that offer video ads and cross-promotion services.