Saturday 2 March 2024

Apple Rejected My App as SPAM

  For the past few months I've been working on a Card Game for iOS, called Crazy Brag. The game is popular variation of the card game Brag and is usually called Bastard Brag or Stop The Bus. In my family we call it 3 Lives and we often play it when we sit down to play cards. 

After much polishing and testing I submitted the app to Apple for review, a day later my app is rejected as being spam and I received the following message:

Guideline 4.3(a) - Design

We noticed your app shares a similar binary, metadata, and/or concept as apps submitted to the App Store by other developers, with only minor differences.

Submitting similar or repackaged apps is a form of spam that creates clutter and makes it difficult for users to discover new apps.

Next Steps

Since we do not accept spam apps on the App Store, we encourage you to review your app concept and submit a unique app with distinct content and functionality.


Some factors that contribute to a spam rejection may include:

- Submitting an app with the same source code or assets as other apps already submitted to the App Store
- Creating and submitting multiple similar apps using a repackaged app template
- Purchasing an app template with problematic code from a third party
- Submitting several similar apps across multiple accounts

Learn more about our requirements to prevent spam in App Store Review Guideline 4.3(a).

So I considered what aspect of the app was similar to other apps. The source code was written from scratch in Swift and I used the SpriteKit framework, so not the same source code as any other app and I certainly did not use any app template. I have not submitted the app to any other accounts and I have not repackaged an existing app.

There are two possibilities, as I see it, that are causing the problem: the assets and/or the game itself. If it's the assets, great I can easily change them, if its the game concept, then the app is doomed unless I radically change the game. So I sent a response, asking the review team for clarity:


I wonder if you may be able to provide further clarification about the app rejection such as:
1. Was the app rejected because it is similar to other card games such as poker? The app is based on a card game called Stop the Bus which is a popular card game in England. I do see that the App Store is choked with poker games, but apart from Cribbage I couldn't find any of the traditional family card games that I play.
2. Was the app rejected because of its grahical or audio assets, if so could you tell which assets need changing? 

Hope you can help so I can fix the app.
Mark Bailey

A day later I received this response from Apple's review team:


Thank you for your reply. Just as we would not share information from your Apple Developer Program account with another developer, we do not share the details of apps submitted under other Apple Developer Program accounts.

During our review, we found that this app duplicates the content and functionality of other apps submitted to the App Store, which is considered a form of spam and is not appropriate for the App Store.

Since apps submitted to the App Store should be unique and should not duplicate other apps, we encourage you to create a unique app before resubmitting for review.

We look forward to reviewing your future submissions.

Best regards,

App Review

So in their reply, they state that the app duplicates content and functionality of other apps. Now before I started writing this game I did look on the app store to see if there were any Brag card games apps, I found plenty of poker and solitaire apps, but none of the family cards that I play such as Crash, Trumps, Chase the Lady (Newmarket) and Brag (of any variation). 

So was my app rejected because it is a card game and the app store has plenty of card games already?  My wife suggested that I respond back and explain to Apple that there are many different card games, but alas I fear I may as well talk to a brick wall.

Coincidentally, whilst my app was in review a new card game called Balatro was making waves all over the press. I wonder if I suffered the FlappyBird/Wordle curse - when a new sensation hits lots of developers copy the idea and rapidly submit clones to the app stores?

More depressingly I've realised the App Store (and PlayStore) is now closed to me, I would be mad to spend months writing another game only for it to be rejected as spam. My next project was to be a crossword game based on the 80's TV Show Crosswits, I was going call it CrossBits! Not a chance as there are already crossword apps and plenty of word puzzles.

Mind you though, the review team are happy to allow new word solver apps that blatantly rip off my Anagram Solver app, but hey ho. To be honest I have no problem with this, it's called competition, and it's what keeps me on my toes improving my own apps.

Word Solver+ took 'inspiration'
 from Anagram Solver

So my advice to any budding game developers out there, is don't waste your time learning Swift/SprikeKit, if you are going to write a game use a multi-platform framework such as Unity. If Apple rejects your game, there are plenty of other stores: Steam,, Play Store, Amazon Store or your own website.

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