When Apple removes a game or other app from the App Store it’s usually because one or more of the many rules has been broken. But in the case of Sweatshop HD, the game just made Apple uncomfortable, and it’s hard to argue your case as a developer against that.
Sweatshop HD was created by BAFTA-winning creative studio Littleloud. It has tower defense gameplay mechanics, but tasks the player with running a sweatshop producing clothing and footwear. It is aimed at young people in a bid to get them thinking about where the clothes we buy come from and the conditions workers in some of these factories suffer through.
Over its 30 levels the player has to deal with ever larger orders, more types of products to make, but also problems like fires, no toilets, unions, and employees getting tired or ill. It’s realistic because the choice of what to do–look after the workers or complete the orders–falls to the player, and hopefully teaches them the difficulties in balancing the two in the process.
For Apple though, such an educational game ended up being too uncomfortable for them to sell. And although it was allowed on to the App Store in November last year, it has since been removed. Littleloud tried to get the game back by making it clear in the app that it was fictional. They also informed Apple that the charity Labor Behind the Label was involved to ensure everything being depicted was true to life.
Sweatshop HD remains missing from the App Store, though, and is unlikely to return. That seems totally unfair as it was educational and Apple’s response clearly shows it doesn’t want apps to deal with difficult issues. This isn’t the first example of such behavior either, as Apple also decided toremove Phone Story from sale back in 2011.
The good news is, you can still play Sweatshop as it was also released as a browser-based Flash game.