Apple doesn't exactly have the most open-minded view when it comes to the kind of content that can be featured in games, and it looks like that extends to how developers promote those games as well. According to several developers who spoke to Pocket Gamer, Apple is now rejecting games that feature violent imagery like guns in their app icon or promotional screenshots.
The just-launched mobile shooter Tempo, for instance, was forced to blur out all guns in its screenshots in order to be accepted. The developers behind Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens, meanwhile, had to remove a toy gun from the game's icon and replace it with a baseball bat.
According to the developer of Gunslugs 2, Apple rejected an update to the game because of a screenshot depicting pixelated violence. "The above screenshot is the reason that Gunslugs 2 is not receiving the big update on iPhone and iPad," they wrote. "This same screenshot has been there since the original release of the game which didn't prove any problem and was approved without any issues or delays. It has even been there during the 'best new games' feature on the front page of iTunes."
Developers are naturally being quiet about the situation, for fear of angering Apple, but it appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. One unnamed developer said that Apple doesn't want any imagery that will "show violence against a human being." It also appears that the reasoning behind rejecting games isn't always clear cut — the developer behind Gunslugs 2 has since said that the game was eventually "re-reviewed and approved without any changes" after complaints were filed. The decisions don't appear to be based on the content of the games themselves, but simply how they're promoted in the App Store.
This isn't the first time that Apple has found itself at odds with game developers. Last December Papers, Please was released on iPad, but it didn't feature the nudity found in the original PC game because Apple had rejected the original version. Eventually Apple reversed its decision and the full, uncensored version of the game made it to the App Store. While it can be frustrating, Apple also makes it clear that it views games differently than other kinds of media, stating in its review guidelines that "it can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store."