Apple is using Itch.io’s ‘offensive and sexualized’ games as a bat against Epic

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Shortly before the Epic vs Apple trial, Epic Games made an interesting announcement: it would offer the indie game store Itch.io as an app on its own Epic Games Store. The Fortnite The publisher was set to run a trial with the goal of getting Apple to offer competing app stores on its iPhone and iPad, so the move showed that Epic was willing to open its own store in the same way.

However, on the fifth day of the court, Apple tried to make Itch.io a liability – by telling Steven Allison, general manager of Epic Games Store, about “so-called adult games” that were “so offensive that we don’t talk about them here. can talk. “

Itch.io is one of the relatively few non-game apps on the Epic Games Store, along with software such as the Brave browser. It is, too, as we described it earlier at The edge, “Small and weird.” (Admittedly, it isn’t very as small as Epic seems to think; CEO Tim Sweeney said it had “at least hundreds” of games, when the real number is more than 200,000Epic did not review all of these games, and Apple noted that their standards differ from those of the Epic Games Store. The list includes, per Apple’s attorney, a game called Sisterly lust that includes “a list of fetishes with many words that are not appropriate for us to pronounce in federal courts.”

Apple is notoriously wary of any sexual or even arguably offensive content in the App Store. Until mid-2016, it told game developers that “If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song or create a medical app. Epic is suing for the right to sideload alternative app stores like the Epic Games Store on iOS. Today, Apple essentially warned Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers that this would mean that Apple would be forced to indirectly authorize a sexualized visual novel about incest. stand (I would call it a game, but Epic vs Apple witnesses have offered several conflicting definitions thereof) on the iPhone.

That’s probably not great for Epic. Judge Rogers appeared to be taking the concern seriously and asked Allison to explain whether Apple was right. Allison objected, though he later came back to Apple’s veiled suggestion that Epic would kick Itch.io off the Epic Games Store. “Itch.io is an incredible developer community that we fully support,” said Allison, “they have an open platform and therefore have different moderation standards from the Epic Games Store.”

But no matter what happens in court, Itch.io is an independent entity with little direct interest in the lawsuit, and its users are largely indie game designers who are often skeptical of both Epic and Apple. (It contains a lot of content that is not safe for work, but it is also by far the easiest place to publish experimental interactive media. This is where I post my own little text-based games, and there is a thriving indie role-playing community for table games. Some people were angry because Apple was pursuing a platform that was particularly popular with queer developers offering images of sexuality you won’t find in big-budget games, others just thought it was really, really funny.

Shortly after the exchange Itch.io’s Twitter feed jokingly claimed that Apple’s lawyers called and said “Turn off ALL games”, then said Itch.io renamed its ‘sensitive content’ filter to ‘Unspeakable Games’. As of this writing, an Itch.io user has announced a game jam called “Unspeakable Jam” that runs until June 12; all submissions must follow Apple’s supervisor Trystan Kosmynka’s Instruction that “games have a beginning and an end; there are challenges. “

In the interest of providing as clear a context as possible for this exchange, I went back and transcribed the entire portion of the testimonial about Itch.io’s Unspeakable Spells, just to make sure it was as over the top as I thought remembered. Reader, it was.

Apple attorney: On April 22 this year, Epic Games Store added the Itch.io app to its store.

Steve Allison, Epic Games: Yes.

Lawyer: You are aware of that.

Allison: I am.

Lawyer: And you know that Itch.io is a third party app store.

Allison: I am.

Lawyer: And the court has also heard that Itch.io has been added without revising all games. You are aware of that.

Allison: Yes.

Lawyer: And you know, sir, Itch.io contains so-called adult games, like a game called Sisterly lust?

Allison: I am not.

Lawyer: You may not know, but that game’s description includes a list of fetishes with many words that are not suitable for us to pronounce in federal courts. Are you aware of this?

Allison: I am not.

Lawyer: And the list goes on. There are a lot of games on Itch.io, I won’t even read the names out loud, but they are both offensive and sexualized. Don’t you know?

Allison: Itch.io is an app store that is not the Epic Games Store. Itch distributes Itch.io games. Epic only distributes the App Store Itch.io.

Lawyer: And Itch.io is now available as an app on the Epic Games Store, right?

Allison: Yes.

Lawyer: And those apps on Itch.io didn’t go through a review process at all. Correct?

Allison: They are subject to any process Itch.io puts in front of their devices.

Lawyer: Turn right. So Epic Games, you’re sure, is on the hook for any process Itch.io takes to review these games that are so offensive we can’t talk about them here, right?

Allison: I disagree with that statement.

Judge Rogers: So do you or do you not have access to those apps through your app store?

Allison: You cannot access those apps through the Epic Games Store, no. You can access those apps through their application, which we download: Itch.io, an app store. [Users] have their own account with them, and you use their store and are subject to their end user agreement.

Judge Rogers: So if I have a phone and your app store was on that phone, then that other store could be downloaded that contains all this offensive material.

Allison: Not on your phone. The app can be downloaded on your PC and you can access their app on your PC.

Judge Rogers: But that’s what you want to do on a phone too. That’s what I understand.

Allison: I don’t know if we would want to do that with Itch.io [on a phone].

Judge Rogers: But you’re doing it now so I can access it on my PC anyway?

Allison: Yes.

Judge Rogers: And this lawsuit is about your ability to do it on your phone, right?

Allison: Yes.

Lawyer: And just to be clear, sir, you can go to Epic Games Store, click on Itch.io and download the offending games. Are you aware of this?

Allison: You can go to the Epic Game Store launcher and you can launch Itch.io, which will take you out of the Epic Games Store and launch their application. You are then subject to their user agreement and you are in the Itch.io ecosystem.

Lawyer: And you just told the court that you wouldn’t want to do that with Itch.io, you wouldn’t want to have Itch.io on the phone.

Allison: I don’t know whether or not we would. I don’t even know if it is available as a mobile application.

Lawyer: Because the reason you said that to the court is because you recognize that it is offensive and sexualized behavior that can be accessed.

Allison: I disagree with that statement.

(After digressing on some other topics, Apple’s attorney returned to the question.)

Lawyer: Now that you know there are offensive and sexualized apps on Itch.io, as the head of the Epic Games Store, are you planning to do anything about it?

Allison: I have no answer for you. I’ll dig in when we get back. But I don’t have an answer for you. I’m not sure. These apps were on Itch.io, not the Epic Games Store.

Lawyer: Epic advertises the placing of these apps in the store. Mr. Sweeney posted a tweet about Itch.io, and now it seems like you’re moving away from Itch.io because you realized there are apps you haven’t rated and can’t resist.

Allison: I disagree with what you say. Itch.io is an incredible developer community that we fully support, they have an open platform and therefore different moderation standards than the Epic Games Store.

Lawyer: I was just wondering, sir, if you fully support the offensive and sexualized content available there when people go to the Epic Games Store and download Itch.io.

Allison: I do not support any kind of sexualized content.