CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple has removed several Civil War games from the iTunes App Store for containing images of the Confederate flag.
The sweep began early Thursday morning, when Apple sent affected game developers a notice that their products were pulled from the app store. In an email to the game creators, Apple said the apps were pulled because they contained “images of the Confederate Flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways,” according to Andrew Mulholland of HexWar Games.
Apple cited its app Store review guidelines: “Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.”
The company added, “At this time, your app has been removed from the App Store. We encourage you to review your app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.”
Mulholland said four of his company’s Civil War games have been taken off the app store. Apple left one game up — Civil War: Bull Run 1861.
“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way,” wrote Mulholland. “They were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time…. We’re in no way sympathetic to the use of the flag in an offensive way; we used it purely because historically that was the flag that was used at the time.”
He added that HexWar is revising the games to replace the flags identified as offensive.
“We’re going to use the Confederate flag from 1861 and 1862 as the one that’s considered offensive wasn’t introduced until late 1862.” he said. “We hope that using the less controversial 1862 flag is a solution to the problem.”
The changes would take the gaming company about a week, and Apple’s review process another two weeks.
“Until Apple approves them, and hopefully they will, we are missing a significant part of our revenue from people who just want to play a historical strategy game,” wrote Mulholland.
Among the games that were pulled are “Civil War: 1862,” “Civil War: 1863,” “Civil War: 1864” and “Civil War: Gettysburg.” But there are still Civil War games that have been left on the app store, including “Cannon Shooter: Gettysburg Edition,” which uses the controversial flag on its home screen.
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Confederate flag has become toxic in the aftermath of a shooting last week at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. But when people started to pick up on news of Apple’s action, first reported by Touch Arcade, some felt it was heavy handed.
“The fact that Apple removed Civil War games from the app store in light of the Charleston Shooting [sic] is a bit extreme,” tweeted one Twitter user, Ian Heald.
But Apple’s actions shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise.
Earlier this week CEO Tim Cook spoke out about the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, saying more must be done to eradicate racism.
“My thoughts are with the victims’ families in SC. Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it,” Cook said Sunday on Twitter.
Apple also isn’t alone in scrubbing Confederate images and products from its business.
On Tuesday, Amazon followed other major retailers, including Wal-mart and Sears in banning sales of the Confederate flag. Google later announced it would remove the flag from its ads and Google Shopping.