Further thoughts on EA’s recent App Store removals

Yesterday, I posted a link to this story about EA pulling some older (but significant) titles from the App Store.

A reader contacted me to say that he felt the article was misleading — it did not indicate that, as per App Store policy, anyone who has previously purchased the games will continue to be able to download them, and in fact insinuated the opposite was true.

This is a good point, and I’m glad Apple has this policy.

However, the situation still bothers me on a couple of additional levels.

1. It contributes to the trend of forced obsolescence.

We don’t know for sure, but presumably EA pulled the games because they’re not compatible with the latest version of iOS, and it’s not financially sound to provide an update. Fair enough. I’ve been there as a developer.

But let’s also say for example, a person still has a phone from, oh, 3 years ago, and it’s still running iOS 6, and that person is happy with that setup. It does everything they want, and the either don’t need or can’t afford to upgrade to a phone that can run the latest and greatest OS. They can no longer obtain these games, unless they happen to have previously bought them. And for what? Why cut that person off?

2. These were arguably historically significant titles, and there is no official mechanism to archive them for preservation.

Maybe it seems silly — they’re “just” games after all, right? But now the only source of these binaries is DRM-laced copies that someone happened to purchase and download. It’s sort of like if Nintendo recalled all unsold copies of every NES game because NES consoles are no longer being produced. And this removal happened with no warning, so anyone who may have wanted to purchase a copy for preservation purposes did not have an opportunity.

Anyway! That’s why it sort of irks me. And to be fair it’s not solely EA’s fault — modern Apple notoriously never looks back, only forward, and doesn’t have much sympathy for those who are satisfied with older hardware or digital archivists. It’s another brick in the garden wall.