Blog Post

Apple Approves, Then Rejects, iOS App That Allowed Games Via Subscription

In its usual quiet fashion, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has removed an iOS application designed to let users subscribe to games through in-app purchasing after approving it for the App Store last week. The surprising reversal leaves one app developer wondering exactly what happened.

Big Fish Games developed an application that lets customers subscribe to numerous games for a $6.99 a month fee, its founder Paul Thelen told Bloomberg on Tuesday. Apple approved the application last week and it was available in the App Store on Tuesday, but it was pulled from the store on Wednesday with no explanation provided to the company.

In-app subscription services have been a sore point for iOS developers in 2011, mostly because of Apple’s requirement that publishers grant Apple a cut of subscriptions purchased through the app. It’s not clear what led to Apple’s decision to approve and then reject Big Fish Games’ application: John Gruber of Daring Fireball speculated that an App Store reviewer may have simply overstepped his or her bounds in approving an application of this nature, the first to offer gaming in this fashion on iOS devices. But Apple may have also changed its mind regarding the propriety of such a business model and the size of its cut of that activity.

Apple has yet to make a public statement on the matter.