Apple has been censoring its apps and other content available on the app store since its launch. From the past many years, Apple has maintained that the apps available on the iStore are “curated” as against the books and music on the store.
Sweatshop HD was an iPad exclusive app and was available for the past few months on the app store. The game encouraged players to acquire cheap teen labor and mistreat them to advance through the various levels of the game. The developers claimed that the game was built to make the users aware of the grave issue of child labor in the society. However, Apple finally came to a conclusion that the game was ‘uncomfortable’ for its premises and eventually removed it from the app store.
In order to play the game, the user had to hire underage labor to build and run a production line for various clothing manufacturers. As you proceed through the various levels of the game, you have to make the life of the underage labor miserable by changing various things in the production line like closing all the fire exits, increasing the work load and the work hours on the laborers etc.
After the initial notice given to Littlecloud, the game developer, they managed to incorporate some changes into the game. For example, they added a disclaimer stating that the game did not depict any conditions of workers of any specific company or factory and that the game was purely fictional in nature. But, Apple was not satisfied with the changes and finally removed it from the app store.
However, surprisingly, we have got reports of several games being removed from the app store for controversial content in the past few years. A similar game called as the Phone Story was recently banned from the app store for controversial content. The game was quite similar to the sweatshop HD and was based on exploitation of labor in Congo. Other games like Endgame: Syria and Smuggle truck have been removed by Apple on similar grounds.
So in short, Apple’s policy is simple, if a developer wants to post content which can be controversial in nature like criticizing a religion, then the only option for them is to write a book or a song. However, any application on the store which hurts any religion or is controversial in nature will not be tolerated by the company and will be removed immediately.