App store rejected my app! HELP!

Image Credit: CookieAMA mobile app

Ideally, you don't want to come to me for this type of advice 😓

Developers usually went online and found mostly depressing comments such as less than 1% would appeal, never heard from apple, have been waiting for weeks without any replies ... etc. You should know better by now those comments did not have any merit.   

I had helped a company to appeal their app which was rejected by the app store initially.  The company filed an appeal and was approved successfully in 3 days in 2023.  The developer was very upset when he saw the email and already accepted his fate that nothing could be done especially after reading things online, reddit ... etc.  

If your app was rejected by the app store, sounds corny but seriously, do not freak out.  Most developers jumped to the conclusion thinking their apps were perfect and WT#.  Unless you don't want to or don't care to solve the problem, you need to calm down and start looking into in what criteria your app was rejected from a 3rd person point of view.  All parents think their kids are perfect except the passengers sitting next to them or their neighbors who may have a different perspective (rugrats).  You need to think like the passengers or neighbors next to you not as a parent yourself.  Technical issues are among the easiest to solve, just fix your s*.  The worst unfortunately also the most common one is  'too many of the similar apps', so damn vague yet the most difficult to tackle.   Developers get crushed by this easily especially with their hard work being labeled as 'spam'.  

How to solve this?

  1. Key words search in the app store looking for similar apps returning from the search results.
  2. Compare individual apps similar to yours such as app description, features, app images, assets ... etc.
  3. Your key word search should also include wild card search.  For example, if your app is match 3 (grim to be honest), you should search for the key word '3' and another key word for 'match'.  You may also need to search for match 6, match 9 ... etc. 
  4. Find all the similarities with your app:
    • Re-phrase your app description to be more specific if your app indeed is not a typical match 3
    • Highlight what is unique in your app that is significantly different than others in the app store and in what way(s)
    • Are there any visual improvement (3D vs 2D), special themes, features, moves ... etc. 
    • Does your app icon well represent your app? Is it too generic or too similar to others?
    • Any app store images, assets ... etc. look too similar to other apps or not highlighting your app features?
Once you have the findings described above and made the necessary changes, you will need to write a compelling appeal.  Be simple and avoid going in circles with an used car sales pitch.  Again, think about how people review your app (likely a checklist) and how you can guide them to spot the differences in 4,000 characters or less in plain english or your language.  Spell the differences by comparing your app vs others such as your app is a match 3 in 3D instead of typical 2D, unique algorithm, special animation, advanced graphics, special effects providing an immersive experience ... etc. that are not found in other match 3 apps.  

There are so many match 3 cookie cutter apps in the app store, why? AAA, that's why.  They have popular characters from movies, tv shows, toys ... etc. despite the exact same gameplay and mostly a pretty cartoon frame surrounded a match 3 game board setting the differences.  It is 'unique' enough having the association with popular cartoon characters, the 'brand' you don't have.  

In addition to filing an appeal, make sure you use the message support to explain why your app is different than others. 

Avoid being rejected by app store in the first place (duh!) and do your homework (the steps described above) during the concept and design phase.     

If releasing an app is a hobby or as a personal accomplishment, I would recommend releasing your app in Google Play.  They do not have the 'too many of the similar apps' rule to prevent you from publishing your app.  It costs $99/year for a iOS developer account vs. $25, a one-time fee as long as you keep your account active for Google Play, which is another consideration for developing apps as a hobby.  I envy all developers who have the heart developing apps.  It is your hard work and you deserve a chance.