Apple bans COVID-19 themed games

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iPhone showing coronavirus that causes COVID-19
Software submitted to the App Store must take COVID-19 seriously.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There’s won’t be a COVID-19 version of Pac-Man, or any other equally tacky game. Apple today banned all entertainment applications that use this pandemic as a theme.

In addition, Apple reiterated an earlier rule requiring software that provides information about this global health crisis be from official sources.

COVID-19 games banned

The iPhone maker spelled out the ban on games that use this novel coronavirus as subject matter in a statement to developers today. “Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed,” the company said flatly.

However, this dosn’t affect games about pandemics in general. For example, Plague Inc. can still be found in the US App Store. But not the Chinese one. It was recently banned in China at the insistence of that country’s government.

Medical info apps only from reportable sources

To combat scaremongering, Apple already rejects healthcare-related apps that aren‘t from reputable sources.

The company today specifically included COVID-19 in this rule. Apple stated that only “government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions” should submit an app related to COVID-19.

It says it took this step because “Communities around the world are depending on apps to be credible news sources — helping users understand the latest health innovations, find out where they can get help if needed or provide assistance to their neighbors.”

Just a tiny part of Apple’s response

The Mac maker has taken dramatic steps to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, far beyond just banning COVID-19 games. Most notably, yesterday it closed all its retail stores outside of China for two weeks.

Plus, this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be online only. And the press event scheduled for later this month to launch a new MacBook Air and other products was cancelled.

Source: Apple