Apple's selective prudery when it comes to approving games for the iTunes store is well known. It's still worth mocking, as one indie developer is doing—pixel by pixel.
Hot Mess (pictured) is the upcoming game that Atlanta-based Secret Library can't get approved. In the game, you play as a "malfunctioning, fire-fighting robot who mistakes the fires of love and compassion for those which he needs to extinguish.
In plainer English, "You run around spraying naked people ... that's the pitch."
It's a pitch and Apple has balked. A first edition of the game had a butt-nekkid couple embracing, even if no boobie or weiner was shown (the game is done in a low-res style.) That got a big thumbs down under App Store rule 16.1, which sounds like it should be cited by an officious man in a hardhat carrying a clipboard. Basically, it covers crude content.
Update 11/7: Secret Library said this morning, less than a day after the story was published here and elsewhere, that Hot Mess' status had changed to "approved" without further revision.
— Secret Library (@Secret_Library) November 7, 2013
Hot Mess launched on iTunes sometime on Friday—"while I was watching Ghostbusters with my grandmother," Ralabate told me.
Our original story follows:
Secret Library added "about 20 white pixels to simulate underwear" and resubmitted the game, reports Pocketgamer. That didn't work either!
Rejected again! "Specifically, we noticed your app displays a barely dressed couple kissing." Well, HOT MESS might be more like WARM MESS.
— Secret Library (@Secret_Library) November 5, 2013
Secret Library dashed off an appeal that was "one of the more surreal letters I've ever written," the studio tweeted, "invoked the cultural iconography of hearts, Walt Disney, and the MPAA."
The plan now, says designer Nick Ralabate, is to slowly and painstakingly add clothing and pixels until the game clears the submission process. It's a kind of a reverse strip-poker— or "some digital re-enactment of the 'walk of shame," Ralabate said.