The excellent The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth may be a bit controversial in its subject matter, but you wouldn’t expect it to receive an outright ban for its content. Apple, however, seems to think that the game’s unsuitable for App Store users: the company has rejected the twin-stick shooter due to its reported depiction of violence toward children.
Tyrone Rodriguez, who is the founder of Binding of Isaac publisher Nicalis, posted a tweet showing Apple’s rejection notice (via Eurogamer). "Your app contains content or features that depict violence towards, or abuse of, children, which is not allowed on the App Store," it reads.
C'mon, wtf... Apple pic.twitter.com/aEygkjqH2b— Tyrone Rodriguez (@tyronerodriguez) February 7, 2016
While the M-rated game is obviously aimed at mature players, Apple’s decision does seem excessive to say the least. Isaac has already appeared on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and PlayStation Vita, and is even available on family-loving Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii U machines – although it was initially rejected by the Japanese company for its “questionable religious content.”
The Binding of Isaac see players take control of the titular Isaac whose mother has trapped him in her basement after the voice of God commanded a sacrifice. The game is a satire of the Binding of Isaac story in the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Developer Edmund McMillen, who was the project lead on The Binding of Isaac, told VentureBeat: “It’s very obvious that Apple doesn’t think games are art or have any respect for the medium […] It’s sad and very ignorant of them to stand by such a stupid and laughable statement. They basically just told every game developer out there that video games are kids toys with no artistic merit.”
McMillen went on to accuse Apple of double standards by taking this decision. “Yet [Apple is] the same people who allow and encourage obscenely abusive and manipulative money-making tactics in their games marketed toward children,” he said.
We don’t know what the next move will be for the Binding of Isaac team; whether they appeal to Apple, censor the game for the App Store, or decide to abandon the platform altogether, we'll have to wait and see.