Stories of developers being absolutely bent over the barrel and fucked hard aren’t new, but I’ve got no other recourse so I’m throwing Blunder Move‘s story into the ring. What makes our story different? I’m lucky enough to personally know people at the iTunes store. People who actually work at Apple that I drink beers with. I’m guessing most iPhone developers are in a different boat, but it doesn’t matter (just look at the Facebook app, which was featured in an iPhone commercial, taking 10+ days to get approved) that I know people there. At least Apple are equal opportunity ass fuckers.
A couple of months ago we released Chess Wars, which allows you to play your Facebook friends via Facebook Connect on your iPhone. When it was released we found a few show stopping bugs that neither us nor Apple found which kept new users from playing the game. Whoops. We pushed 1.1 a few weeks later only to find that there were problems for other new users. Again none of this was caught by us or Apple. As they say, shit happens. We quickly put together a release and submitted it to Apple about 6 weeks ago.
Finally, after weeks of waiting I did what I’d tried hard to avoid at all cost; I contacted the friends I knew at Apple who told me to email the submitters. Canned response.
So here, like so many other iPhone developers, we sit getting ass raped on 1-star reviews, which will haunt our application forever, and no recourse. None. Nobody at Apple will respond to us. My friends at Apple can’t do anything. I can’t respond to the 1-star reviews.
To our users affected by this, I’m truly sorry. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about your horrible user experience and, as a developer who loves his users, nothing pains me more.
To Apple, please kindly extend the world class customer service I’m so accustomed to as an Apple fanboy to your developers.
UPDATE: A lot of the feedback around this post has centered around us getting what we deserved for shipping buggy code. I should mention we have about 50 beta testers and over 200 unit tests for this specific application so it’s not like we’re not testing. The two bugs were show stoppers for cases we didn’t think to test, but nonetheless affect most of our new users.
Secondly, we did hear back from Apple. They said they were rejecting the application because our in-game chat looked too much like Apple’s SMS application. I’ve asked if we changed our chat bubbles to look like Facebooks if we’d be allowed in. Our contact at Apple is going to be getting back to me soon.
What pisses me off most about this, and what I conveyed to our contact at Apple, was that it took a widely publicized profanity laced blog post to get their attention. I asked, specifically, why it took weeks to get such a simple response of “Hey, change the chat and we’re good.” back. To Apple’s credit they said I deserved an answer to that question and are looking into it.
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Apple while I was writing this blog post and they told me, no joke, that the chat bubbles are, in fact, trademarked. Furthermore, they suggested I could, among other suggestions make them “less shiny.”
I wonder if they consider Facebook to be infringing on their trademark.