Developer files antitrust complaint after Apple rejects COVID game

Posted:
in General Discussion
A German developer and lobbyist has filed a complaint with the EU, claiming that both Apple and Google are unfairly rejecting apps with coronavirus themes.

Developer's rejected coronavirus app was accepted after being renamed
Developer's rejected coronavirus app was accepted after being renamed


As Apple faces one lawsuit claiming it wants a monopoly on contact-tracing apps, another developer is accusing both Apple and Google of unfair competition. The new complaint says it is an antitrust issue that the companies are rejecting any COVID-related apps, including games.

German developer Florian Mueller -- who is better known as a lobbyist and blogger on legal issues -- reports that he submitted an app named Corona Control Game in November 2020. Both the Apple App Store, and Google Play Store, rejected it.

It's not clear whether either company formally told Mueller why it was rejected. However, Apple has stated before that it will not allow any COVID-19 apps on the App Store unless they are officially-approved ones from governments and health authorities.

According to Reuters, Google has responded that, too, it will only approve COVID-19 apps that are authorized.

"The stated goal of 'ensuring the credibility of health and safety information' does not justify blanket rules based on authorship or merely the combination of a broad category and a topic," argues Mueller in his complaint.

Mueller has now filed complaints about this with the US Department of Justice, and also antitrust authorities in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. A further complaint is expected to be filed in India.

In the meantime, Mueller reports that he has renamed the app to "Viral Days," and that it has been accepted by both stores.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    If they renamed the app and it was accepted by both app stores, then how is there a case? With all the covid problems, isn't it a bit incentive and worn out already? After all this time I wouldn't want to play a covid game anyhow. 
    rob53cornchipmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    flydogflydog Posts: 924member
    Seems like the new thing is to sue for antitrust violations every time you don't like Apple's rules. 

    Mueller really should know better. 
    edited January 22 mac_dogmagman1979dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    If they renamed the app and it was accepted by both app stores, then how is there a case? With all the covid problems, isn't it a bit incentive and worn out already? After all this time I wouldn't want to play a covid game anyhow. 
    Yeah, I don’t really get what the issue is if a name change covered it. Also, it’s not like Apple has it’s own COVID-19 themed game they are trying to push.

    As to the insensitivity part, it seems like a double standard. When I search for “virus game” the first result I get is for “Infection Bio War” with “Spread the Plague!” as it’s tag line. How is it that spreading the plague is deemed fine but if the developer of that game changed it to spreading COVID-19 it would be rejected (theoretically)? Will it be OK in 5 years to have a COVID-19 themed game?



    It’s at least a little odd that Apple rejected Mueller’s COVID-19 app which, from a quick glance, is about preventing the spread, wearing masks, quarantining, etc, but the above app is geared at spreading disease and is apparently OK.
    edited January 22 JWSCmagman1979muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 20
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,494member
    If they renamed the app and it was accepted by both app stores, then how is there a case? With all the covid problems, isn't it a bit incentive and worn out already? After all this time I wouldn't want to play a covid game anyhow. 
    Haven’t checked but are there any games about polio, measles, mumps, or any of the other life threatening diseases we’ve dealt with? No reason to allow stupid apps like this. 
    mac_dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 878member
    Seems to me the quick way to make a buck is to violate apples developer rules intentionally, only to turn around and sue them when it gets rejected. Talk about a lack of ingenuity and a bunch of lazy fucks out to make a quick buck. Furthermore, this should be a conflict of interest case, since this guy is a lobbyist and has influence with law makers. 
    edited January 22 flydogmwhitemagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    It’s at least a little odd that Apple rejected Mueller’s COVID-19 app which, from a quick glance, is about preventing the spread, wearing masks, quarantining, etc, but the above app is geared at spreading disease and is apparently OK.
    It's not about the subject matter, it was about the name, and a formal policy against COVID-19 "branded" apps not from recognized health care authorities.

    Regardless of his motives he's getting some press and notice.
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    'Corona Control Game' sounds like something an AI program would come up with. Apple was doing him a favor by rejecting that title. 
    Fidonet127watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    "The stated goal of 'ensuring the credibility of health and safety information' does not justify blanket rules based on authorship or merely the combination of a broad category and a topic," argues Mueller in his complaint.
    Yes it does.  Otherwise every bozo with a crackpot scheme to "fix" the virus would camouflage their app as a game.
    roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,498member
    mknelson said:
    It’s at least a little odd that Apple rejected Mueller’s COVID-19 app which, from a quick glance, is about preventing the spread, wearing masks, quarantining, etc, but the above app is geared at spreading disease and is apparently OK.
    It's not about the subject matter, it was about the name, and a formal policy against COVID-19 "branded" apps not from recognized health care authorities.

    Regardless of his motives he's getting some press and notice.
    His suit might have a bit more credibility that we expect. The game had Corona in the name, Apple rejected it but accepted it after the name was changed. However there are a lot of apps in the store with Corona in the name. Things related to Corona California, or from a developer named Corona. I have a feeling someone saw Corona and Virus and just kicked it to the curb without realizing it wasn’t a medical app. 
  • Reply 10 of 20
    This is a great (effective) use of their marketing budget. 

    From a legal point of view, what is the damages they are claiming? Just didn’t get their preferred app name?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 20
    If you design an app to be rejected, it will be rejected. Shock I know.
    kurai_kageRayz2016
  • Reply 12 of 20
    flydogflydog Posts: 924member
    mac_dog said:
    this should be a conflict of interest case, since this guy is a lobbyist and has influence with law makers. 
    What you posted makes no sense.  

    A conflict of interest is when you owe a duty to two people, and some scenario arises that requires you to choose one, thereby violating the duty owed to the other.

    Lobbying a lawmaker to change a law to benefit you personally or a client is not a conflict of interest.
    edited January 22 elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,796member
    COVID is not a game. I think it's sickening for developers to try and profit from such a devastating illness. Utterly disgraceful. Much like the violent first-person-shooter games that are ultra-realistic or GTA. I mean, congrats on achieving such amazing graphics, but the impact on growing brains is unforgivable.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    corp1corp1 Posts: 29member
    COVID is not a game. I think it's sickening for developers to try and profit from such a devastating illness. Utterly disgraceful. Much like the violent first-person-shooter games that are ultra-realistic or GTA. I mean, congrats on achieving such amazing graphics, but the impact on growing brains is unforgivable.
    Games like this must be stopped before people start listening to Dr. Mario instead of Dr. Fauci !

    It's like all those people who play Surgeon Simulator and then try to practice medicine !

    (Disclaimer: If Nintendo re-branded Dr. Mario I would probably buy it instantly.)

    edited January 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    corp1corp1 Posts: 29member
    In this real-time strategy game, you have the power to
    • make, buy and distribute masks
    • hospitalize and quarantine people
    • disperse crowds
    • impose lockdowns and
    • arrest those who violate a rule.
    Looking forward to the expansion/DLC where you can put COVID deniers and non-compliers into "detention centres." [1]

    [1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/17/germans-keep-refusing-quarantine-could-put-detention-centres/


    edited January 23
  • Reply 16 of 20
    If they renamed the app and it was accepted by both app stores, then how is there a case? With all the covid problems, isn't it a bit incentive and worn out already? After all this time I wouldn't want to play a covid game anyhow. 
    Yeah, I don’t really get what the issue is if a name change covered it. Also, it’s not like Apple has it’s own COVID-19 themed game they are trying to push.

    As to the insensitivity part, it seems like a double standard. When I search for “virus game” the first result I get is for “Infection Bio War” with “Spread the Plague!” as it’s tag line. How is it that spreading the plague is deemed fine but if the developer of that game changed it to spreading COVID-19 it would be rejected (theoretically)? Will it be OK in 5 years to have a COVID-19 themed game?



    It’s at least a little odd that Apple rejected Mueller’s COVID-19 app which, from a quick glance, is about preventing the spread, wearing masks, quarantining, etc, but the above app is geared at spreading disease and is apparently OK.
    The problem is the name, not the game mechanic. Hence why the game was approved with nothing more than a name change.
    The game you've highlighted and all analogues of the Plague Inc. title are allowed on the app store. 

    Just some side trivia: Plague Inc is endorsed by the US CDC for its accuracy in teaching players about disease transmission.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,638member
    COVID is not a game. I think it's sickening for developers to try and profit from such a devastating illness. Utterly disgraceful. Much like the violent first-person-shooter games that are ultra-realistic or GTA. I mean, congrats on achieving such amazing graphics, but the impact on growing brains is unforgivable.
    The game teaches players about how important it is to do all the things that medical professionals say.  That's an impact on growing brains that I can get behind.

    Violent games are usually age restricted.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,127member
    DAalseth said:
    mknelson said:
    It’s at least a little odd that Apple rejected Mueller’s COVID-19 app which, from a quick glance, is about preventing the spread, wearing masks, quarantining, etc, but the above app is geared at spreading disease and is apparently OK.
    It's not about the subject matter, it was about the name, and a formal policy against COVID-19 "branded" apps not from recognized health care authorities.

    Regardless of his motives he's getting some press and notice.
    His suit might have a bit more credibility that we expect. The game had Corona in the name, Apple rejected it but accepted it after the name was changed. However there are a lot of apps in the store with Corona in the name. Things related to Corona California, or from a developer named Corona. I have a feeling someone saw Corona and Virus and just kicked it to the curb without realizing it wasn’t a medical app. 
    But it is related to the medical crisis so it falls under that category. 
    EsquireCats
  • Reply 19 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,010member
    I for one applaud Apple and Google for their stance on covid related apps. There are already massive scams going on with scammers offering first in line vaccinations for a fee. The world is inundated with misinformation and outright lies about the virus. We don’t need apps promoting unofficial information, conspiracy theories, and god knows what else. And a third party app offering to contract trace would be just too much temptation for the bad guys to exploit.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,638member
    lkrupp said:
    I for one applaud Apple and Google for their stance on covid related apps. There are already massive scams going on with scammers offering first in line vaccinations for a fee. The world is inundated with misinformation and outright lies about the virus. We don’t need apps promoting unofficial information, conspiracy theories, and god knows what else. And a third party app offering to contract trace would be just too much temptation for the bad guys to exploit.
    I agree in principle, though I think Apple could handle this better.  Rather than an outright rejection it might be better if Apple contacted the developer, said they had concerns with the title and that it might cause confusion with proper Covid medical advice, and would he be willing to change it.  A softer approach to a lot of these issues might defuse some of the tensions that Apple seem to be enflaming with an overly rigid and corporate approach.
    muthuk_vanalingam
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