Late last week a number of developers began receiving letters from Apple warning that their apps had become outdated and were scheduled for removal from the App Store within 30 days. According to the terms of the strict new rules, however, one of the most famous games in Apple’s own portfolio could suffer the same fate.
Texas Hold’em, one of the first games to appear on the App Store and a “popular classic” in Apple’s own words, was last updated to version 2.1 in October 2019. That appears to be the threshold for removal, as the apps receiving the warning letters hadn’t been updated in the past two years. Apple doesn’t specifically mention a time frame in its developer rules, but based on the other apps in line for removal, Texas Hold’em is out of date.
Apple first released Texas Hold’em for the iPhone in 2008 (here’s our original review) before removing it in 2011. It then returned to the App Store in 2019 with better graphics and “more challenging gameplay.” We’ve reached out to the company for comment and will include its response if and when one is offered.
Texas Hold’em is a prime example of the treasures that will imminently be lost from the App Store. If even Apple can’t keep its own apps updated regularly enough to pass the test and avoid deletion, how many others will suffer the same fate? The vast majority of apps are created and maintained by individuals or small companies with a fraction of Apple’s resources, and it simply doesn’t make sense to continue rolling out updates for games that no longer bring in significant revenue–but does that really mean those games no longer have anything to offer the world, and must be booted out of the store?
Apple notes that apps removed from the store will not be permanently deleted and can be reinstated after an update. Also, users who previously downloaded an app will still be able to use it. So, it’s unclear at this point whether or not the game will indeed disappear, if the game will get its first update in 30 months, or if Apple is willing to make exceptions. It’s very possible, of course, that an update is in the pipeline and all will be well; Apple would presumably not need to send itself a warning letter.