The earthquake and ensuing tsunami which struck Japan on March 11th shocked the world. Thousands of people lost their homes, possessions and relatives. As a relatively small app developer, there isn’t much we could do the help the victims. At least not in financial terms.
Update: Apple does not allow us to create apps with the intent to donate the revenues. Therefore we’ve had to adjust our policy regarding this app. See the progress section below for a detailed description.
There is, however, one thing we can do: we make iPhone apps. And so we decided to use this skill to support the Japan rescue effort. On Monday March 14th, we held a brainstorm session about what we could build to raise money. Our boundaries were simple: the app would need to be interesting, needed to be designed and developed within a short period of time, and needed some link with the situation in Japan. All revenue – every cent – generated by the application would be directly transferred to the Dutch Red Cross Society, who will make sure the money is spent where it is needed the most.
The first choice we made was to create a game, not a utility, firstly because a relevant utility was hard to come up with, but also because people are more willing to pay for games, so it raises more money.
We set a deadline of one week, because the people of Japan need any help as soon as possible. One week of development and one week of review by Apple means we’ll be donating money to the Japanese Red Cross society soon enough to make a difference.
So the goal became to create a game and do so in one week. The last thing to decide was how to link the app to Japan, apart from the fund raising part. We chose to go for an old Nintendo-era 8-bit style of design, combined with a game-goal of rescuing people from the roofs of buildings.
After another hour of brainstorming, we finalized the game concept: the player would be in control of a rescue helicopter, flying above a city struck by a tidal wave. As the water level rises, people flee to the roofs of the city, hoping to escape the water. The goal is to save as many people as possible, before the water flushes away the city.
We are aware this game touches on a very sensitive subject and borders on a bad sense of taste. Developing and publishing this game was not a decision taken lightly. We chose to go ahead in spite of potential controversy, because our intentions are good and we hope to provide an easy, entertaining way to allow people to support Japan. If this application offends you, we deeply apologize.
June 24th Our public statement regarding the name change:
Japan Rescue has been released under a new name: Chopper Rescue. The original Japan Rescue got rejected by Apple for two reasons:
- We are not allowed to mention anything about donations or what we’ll do with the proceeds.
- Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way will be rejected.
In the meantime, it has been months since the tsunami struck and the national and international communities have already provided the help Japan needs. To avoid any trouble with Apple (we develop lots of apps, we don’t want to run any chance of making a bad impression on the review teams) we’ve decided not to donate the proceeds of the application to the Red Cross, as mentioned earlier. We have, however, lowered the price to $1.00.
We do understand this might feel like we’re breaking our earlier promise. The way we look at it, this app is no longer using the Japan disaster as a main source of (media) attention, but has just become another pixel art game. We’ve spent time developing the game and would now like to gain some revenue.
We sincerely hope you can understand this change.
June 23th Apple approved Chopper Rescue, which is now available in the App Store for $1.00
June 16th We’ve renamed the app to Chopper Rescue and removed any references to Japan and donations to the Red Cross.
April 6th We received a call from Apple, explaining they couldn’t approve the app for two reasons:
- Apps that are primarily designed to upset or disgust users will be rejected
- Apps that include the ability to make donations to recognized charitable organizations must be free
March 29th We received an e-mail from Apple stating review will take additional time:
Dear Coding Dutchmen,
We are currently reviewing an app that you submitted for inclusion on the App Store, and want to let you know that the review process will require additional time. We apologize for the delay and will provide you with an update on the status of your app as soon as possible.
March 28th Apple has notified us Japan Rescue is now in review.
March 24th There’s a discussion on Touch Arcade concerning the ethics of Japan Rescue.
March 23rd Received reply by Apple, stating they can’t expedite a review at this moment. Quote:
At this time we are experiencing high volumes in app submissions. While we are doing our best to honor all requests for expedited reviews, we cannot guarantee an expedited review at this time. We are working hard to process submissions as quickly as we can and in the most timely manner.
March 22nd Application uploaded to Apple. We sent an e-mail asking if they could review the app quickly. Full e-mail:
Today we’ve submitted the app Japan Rescue to the app store. We’ve created this app with the sole purpose of supporting the victims of the Japan earthquake victims. We intend to transfer 100% of the application revenue to the Red Cross society so they can help the Japanese people as effectively as possible.
We would appreciate it if you allow this app to pass review quickly, as it is meant to be an easy, entertaining method of supporting the tsunami victims. The faster this app will be available, the faster we will be able to help Japan.
Luc van Donkersgoed
March 18th First playable version complete
March 14th Concept and development started