Truly the worst of all timelines.

The Appocalypse is coming: Will your favorite apps survive?

iOS •

Here’s a “fun” game to play if you’ve updated to iOS 10.3: Go to Settings > General > About > Applications and take a look at the list. These are the apps you have on your phone right now that won’t work at all once Apple removes compatibility for 32-bit apps in a future iOS version.

Here’s my list:

Dead apps walking.

Almost all of these are real bummers to me in some way, but I’ve got to say that Honeycomb Hotel is personally the worst potential loss. I think there’s some hope for an update still, but most of the other apps on my list probably won’t be getting one, for a variety of reasons. TouchArcade and AppShopper, for instance, haven’t been able to release updates for years, thanks to a rules change that banned apps that watch the App Store for price changes. Flappy Bird was infamously pulled from the App Store by its developer at the height of its popularity over concerns that it was too addictive. Perhaps the saddest story behind an app on this list is I Am Level. Stewart Hogarth, the developer of the excellent pinball exploration-platformer hybrid, tragically passed away in 2015.

My heart skipped a beat the other day when I checked my list for the first time and saw 868-HACK. Luckily, Michael Brough gave it an update on Tuesday that adds 64-bit compatibility and also tweaks the balance a bit. In his blog post for the update, he opens with a mini-rant against the continued inconveniences that Apple is putting developers through to keep their apps available on the App Store. Luckily for us, he’s going to soldier through and try to get his other apps up-to-date, too.

This impending 64-bit requirement once again hammers home the need for software preservation and exposes a major downside to Apple’s “walled garden” approach to iOS. Frivolous as it may seem, Flappy Bird is a historically important game that will soon become (even more, considering that you can’t even download it anymore) unplayable, at least on iOS. And even games that aren’t necessarily “important” deserve to be preserved! Projects like the Video Game History Foundation, The Internet Archive, and byuu’s work give me some hope for the future, but between the 64-bit requirement and the yearly developer fee required to keep even free apps on the App Store, it seems like Apple sees apps as disposable. I’ve been paranoid enough to keep backups of nearly every app I’ve downloaded and my old 5s on an older firmware, so I’ll still be able to use these apps in some form, but it’s a shame that that looks to be the only way.

What does your list look like? Feel free to speculate/mourn in the forum thread.

Update 4/10/2017:

Everett Kaser, the developer of Honeycomb Hotel, let me know today that he’ll be working on updates over the next couple of months. Rejoice! We’ll be keeping an eye out for news on the apps you’ve listed in the forums as well.

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Notable Replies

  1. This is another reason to not upgrade. I’m still on iOS 9 because I wanted to keep Game Center and I didn’t see any compelling reasons to upgrade. I may finally relent because I’m tired of telling my iPad that I don’t want to update and Game Center doesn’t really do much anymore. But the benefits of 64-bit don’t seem to be promising enough to outweigh the loss of some apps I actually use (AppShopper and TouchArcade; there are probably others I don’t know about).

  2. I own an iPad 4, which won’t run 64-bit apps. How will this 64-bit mandate affect me? Or will it affect only those apps that are not both 32- and 64-bit compatible?

  3. It should not affect you at all for the apps you have. You will not be able to upgrade you iPad 4 to the future iOS that is only 64-bit. However, you may no longer be able to buy new apps because they will only be 64-bit apps.

  4. Most of the ones on my list aren’t surprises. Samurai hasn’t been updated in forever. I’d be sad to lose it, but not shocked. Same story with Stone Age.

    Trainyard was one of the first games to really get me hooked on iOS apps, so that’s a bummer.

    The lone shocker in the bunch: Lords of Waterdeep. I don’t play it often–and maybe nobody does, which is why it hasn’t been updated–but I do really enjoy the game.

  5. Don’t we have somebody from Playdek who posts here?

    Hopefully he’ll chime in.

    Penny Arcade is also on the list. I have an ongoing game set up with two of my friends.

  6. Definitely concerned about LoW. Is this just an iOS issue?

  7. i just updated to iOS 10.3 and it shows me 40 of my 201 installed apps as incompatible with “future versions of iOS” :confounded:

    many high priced apps (Final Fantasy Tactics, Baldur’s Gate, Space Hulk), many board game apps (SmallWorld2, Kingdom Builder, Stone Age, Through the Desert, Qin, Samurai) and many classics (Elder Sign, Galaxy on Fire2, Bard’s Tale, Greed, Baphomet, Osmos).
    i must be crazy to update to iOS 11. so thx, but no.

  8. Your mention of Space Hulk is what finally made me realize that Deathwatch obsoleted Soace Hulk for me. I never liked the narrow channels of SH.

    I’ll be sad to see Battle of Hill 218 go, if it does. That’s been a superb short game for years, and I still play it a few times a week.

  9. Argh! I knew it was coming but still ARGH!

    Definetly staing at 10.3…apple can bugger of with their policy…

    censored red hot fuming rage

  10. Caylus will not be updated. Just heard from the developer:

    I’m afraid not. Sales are way too low to make this effort profitable.

    No mention of Eclipse, but at BoardGameGeek, it sounds like Eclipse will be updated.

  11. I hate to sound like a broken record, but if Caylus ever had a functioning multiplayer system it might have developed enough sales to make the update worthwhile! I bought this day 1, spent 2 weeks trying to get a multiplayer game to work without the game disappearing, then gave up and never played it again.

  12. Here’s some good news: Everett Kaser told me today that Honeycomb Hotel and his other apps should be updated in the next couple of months.

  13. Yeah, Caylus was released and left to die. By its own developer.

    Big Daddy’s, frankly, seems to understand marketing even less than it understands multiplayer.

  14. I would like this post twice if I could.

  15. This situation, plus a lot of my older games just falling by the wayside, is making me be very discerning about what I buy digitally. Books, no problem for the most part, same for comics from comixology. Steam has some staying power so I don’t mind buying games there. But ios/android? Each major update of iOS is bringing an apocalypse similar to WinXP to Vista, or Vista to 7, etc. Stuff I’ve paid for, just cast aside and no real concern. Square/Enix has been one of the biggest disappointments on the app store. 20.00 games and no updates for years. Hadn’t been able to play Final Fantasy Tactics for a long time, until a surprise update hit sometime last year… and even then it was hit or miss. 20.00 or 2.00, if I pay money for it, I expect it to function for years (5+).

    It’s even worse if the game has some sort of online component or cash store to buy into the game’s currency. I don’t care how much I like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, or the Fate series. If the dev can just arbitrarily turn the app off because they don’t want to maintain it anymore, I’m unlikely to being supporting it.

    Sorry…I think I’ve been saving up this rant over app stores, oses, and money for some time. I hope it makes sense.

  16. Recent Examples:

    Secret of Mana iOS
    No Cloud Saves, so no transfer between iPhone 6 and iPad. I have found that playing action heavy games like SoM on my Go-to device (the iPad Air) can tire you out especially if you go for the longer sessions.
    In comes the iPad Mini…I use it specifically for badly ported iPhone games (like Secret of Mana) because it is the perfect middleground…only I had to start yet again from Scratch. and had to look real long and work extra hard to get it re-installed on my iPad Mini (seems to be taken off the appstore)

    Thank good for Cloud Save in FF5…too bad it wasnÄt implemented in FF Tactics -.-

    Wayward Souls
    Very very great game. Roguelike/ Roguelite from Rocketcat games. No way to transfer saves/progress. Possible victim of Apple’s Operation “32bit Killswitch”

    Storm Casters (ultra)
    A very very nice roguelite twin-stick shooter with unique card based Mechanic. Art direction cries Torchlight meshed with Hearthstone.
    Great game, the game is F2P (generous F2P imho F2P done ight) and I opted specifically to bury it under 25 of my hard earned Euros to vote with my wallet and give the Devs some money for their hard work. But no way to transfer progress between devices or restore purchases.

    One game is a rather high profile game from Sqare Enix, the other a damn good game with quite some invested cash…a bit salty now even if I still think the money was invested on the right basis.
    The result will be when I update my iPad Air (or get an iPad pro down the line) I will consciously kill Storm Casters for good…because no way in hell will I restart over even if it was one of the three best Invbentions of mankind since sliced bread.

    I will keep my iPad mini on the latest iOs 10.X forever and try to hide it in a well guarded ivory tower. Seing my 3 device-lists of soon to be dead apps makes me want to cry.

  17. Hey, That’s My Fish! HD from FFG was just updated to support 64-bit iOS devices. Perhaps it’s a sign their other board game apps will be updated, as well.

  18. js619 says:

    Looks like the-game-I-suck-so-hard-at-suck-isn’t-even-the-right-word FTL just updated for 64-bit support and minor bug fixes… so I can keep sucking even in iOS 11.

  19. Isn’t the developer re-skinning Hill 218 as a sci-if game and re-releasing it in print and digital? Or am I just having another insane delusion?

  20. Funnily enough, the android beta just opened today, with iOS to follow. I’ve played the physical card game only a little; in my experience, Hill 218’s artillery and Heavy Weapons are overpowered, leading to a very defensive game in which positional play can be summed up as “don’t leave a unit where your opponent will have a supported attack”. 219 nerfs the right units, and gives you a really neat unit which is great in support, but can’t attack at all. So there’s a more delicate approach to setting up good positions. I really liked it, and thought it shook up the formula in positive and important ways without making the rules any more complicated.

    Anyway, we’re already in touch with Nils about doing something soon. Nils Hellberg, you may recall, is both the developer and also our old webmaster, back when we were at Pocket Tactics (and presumably still fills that role, for those of us who split our time).

  21. The lone shocker in the bunch: Lords of Waterdeep. I don’t play it often–and maybe nobody does, which is why it hasn’t been updated–but I do really enjoy the game.

    This may be old news (9 June) but I found that LoW will get an 64bit Update later this year here (trough googling I don’t frequent that site…is it a good source for info?)

    Since this seems semi-confirmed…off to the tournament section to ping interest for a LoW Tourney.

  22. Warhammer Quest is now 64-bit compatible! :+1:

  23. Good news! I actually just passed up starting a new adventure because I assumed my game would be gone sooner or later. I’m actually surprised it got an update considering the sequel is in the works.

  24. Probably my favorite game on my current app-ocalypse list is Battle for Westnoth.

    It was developed as an open source project, so it is completely free on OS X, Windows, Linux, even BeOS for heaven’s sake. For some reason the iOS app cost $4 but well worth it IMO. It’s got an average review of 5 stars from over 300 ratings on the App Store and 9/10 on the reviews mentioned on the Wikipedia page.

    It’s got lots of hex-based maps, quests, cool fantasy characters and artwork, and a good UI. You can tell it was made for the love of the game and not with money in mind.

    I guess I’ll be trying to fill up my swear jar in time to buy a new iPad Pro and keep this older iPad on iOS 10 until the end of its days as many people have strategized on another thread. Bleepity Bleeping Bleep!

  25. Apex says:

    I believe Osmos got a 64 bit update. Beamdog also posted they are updating Baldur’s Gate:EE

  26. I for myself am sad to see my beloved Nightfall leave my iPad.

    Still clinging to the fantasy, that Playdek are working in all silence on updating all their brilliant apps and expand them. I would have loved to see more Nightfall decks, a “can’t stop” multiplayer mode, a tournament mode for SW. Hell even games I do not play much like Penny Arcade, Food Fight, Fluxx, Tango Cuore would be a shame to abandon. Not that I wouldn’t mind a new game from them either…

    A pity.

  27. long ago an online portal for all Playdek games had been announced.
    and wasn’t it even in beta ages ago?
    there should have been integrated tournament modes, ranking lists, chatrooms and total connectivity as far as i remember.

    the whole project must have been buried, just like the two Unsung Story games?

  28. Yeah, anyone with the inclination and the time could do some internet research and learn a lot about the ups and downs of Playdek.

    For my own selfish part, I’d also put up-to-the-minute Ascension expansions on my wishlist, along with expansions/support for some of their lesser-known titles (Fluxx, Penny Arcade, etc.).

    And I can add, with complete honesty, that I literally cringed when I first heard about Unsung Story. There was just no way that project was ever going to work out; business history is littered with examples of companies that lost focus on what they did well for the sake of trying something new. Blech. So glad I avoided that one.

    As a sidebar, I’d guess that the FTP revolution has hurt Playdek. They are a group that makes great apps that they need to charge money for … but today’s app consumer wants everything for free.

  29. Good lord. I remember that announcement; I think we had a big discussion over at PT That Used To Be Good.

    2014 … wow.

  30. Great news, everyone! Honeycomb Hotel got updated a couple days ago.

  31. Final Fantasy Tactics has an update on the way.

  32. My thanks…

    note to self:
    try to reintergrate yourself more efficiently in social life after returning from the hospital…

    My thanks…but…Squeenix if you are updating… then implement cloud saves!!!

    Hey…a man can dream, yes?
    I would have finished Secret of Mana and FFT thrice over if I could switch around between Pad and Phone…


  33. Rant in 3…2…1…

    Ok, I give up. I just spent two hours on Apple’s newest batshit crazy bullshit trying to rectify a totally incredibly STUPID design choice on their part which they coated in sugarcoat lies to fuck us over again.

    their newest iTunes version for the pc removes App store functionality…AND app management alltogether…

    what this means? No download of apps trough iTunes, no manual app management etc.
    This is a sneaky sneaky move to further screw us 32-bit App/ Game Nerds over.

    I am at fault for not realizing this before updating to the newest version of iTunes.
    Now I spent 2 hours for backing up my old mediathek and reinstalling an older iTunes version (newest iTunes 10.2.7) and it now complains it cannot open my iTunes libary.itl because it was made by a newer iTunes version.
    After deleting the specific file I could run iTunes but it STILL doesn’t show my apps or any appstore

    And also i still don’t know if restoring iTunes would help…what if they simply turn off the app store for iTunes alltogether (even for older iTunes versions) simply by updating the store to the newest iOS11 cough functionality by proclaiming the usual bullshit to present a more “sleek and fun use” of the iTunes “experience” as a pure “entertainment suite” or whatever…

    Don’t update your iTunes to 10.2.7 yet
    If you did, my comiserations
    If you didn’t because you were less an idiot than me, good for you still backup your app libary right the hell now.

    For any useful help I would be grateful. In the meantime sorry for the childish rant and for…

  34. I’m not sure exactly how helpful this will be, but there a discussion about downgrading back to iTunes 10.2.7 here It is a Mac centric site so most of the discussion focuses on how to do it on a Mac but there may be links for doing the same on a PC. You may have to search around the thread a little to find what you want. No one there is pleased about the “update.”

  35. johnl says:

    I cannot begin to thank you enough for this warning.

  36. So, now I have one iPad on iOS 10 and one on 11. The older one keeps bugging me to upgrade. Here are the games I would lose. I could live without most of them and not even notice, but some of them I don’t mind losing the games as much as my progress in them. Can’t they just implement cloud saves now in case they ever catch up to Apple’s upgrade shenanigans in the future? Especially looking at you Space Hulk, so much progress, a well-funded game developer, why no cloud save or 64-bit? And Battle Academy, that was a $20 game if I remember, no support for iOS 11?

  37. It keeps prompting me, I hit disagree on the TOS, let’s see what happens there…

  38. If you delete the downloaded update, you get more days before getting prompted to update.

  39. call me a dummy, but how to do it?
    have just noticed that my device has already downloaded that 11-moloch without my consent.
    and the constant tricky and nasty buggings annoy me to the utmost :angry::rage::japanese_ogre:
    one day i will be sleepy or tired enough to fall into the well hidden trap.

    i’m so fed up with apple and their megalomaniac and ignorant behavior.
    playing more on console (PS4/3DS) now and thinking about better playgrounds (Switch/Android tablet/Surface Pro).

  40. Settings > General > iPad storage (may be Storage). Near the top (list is in order by size) will be the iOS update. Press it, then delete app.

    Gives you about a week before the update is downloaded again.

  41. Check out how to get the stealth 12.6.3 iTunes.

    It works just like iTunes 12.6.2 but also works with iOS 11. The website implies that even if you’ve installed 10.2.7 you can get to this version. I don’t know if that is true or not, I just installed 12.6.3 directly.

  42. thx, deleted.
    i had thought it would be better camouflaged :grimacing:

    annoying enough that it will always come back like an influenza or a bad habit.
    apple must be crazy to pester their customers like that.

    btw Holsten Knight suffers from the “links don’t function any more” bug since updating to iOS 11. you can imagine how p#$$€& he is.

  43. Also, after deleting update you can turn off automatic downloads in settings to stop the update coming again. That way you avoid the potential of accidentally installing it.

    Im staying on 10 forever I think. You’ll just lose too much…until I can’t get something that requires 11 that is.

    It’s all a bit shite really.

  44. i have disabled each and every kind of automatic download.
    but this 11-monster can’t be stopped to auto-download again and again, wasting 1.2 GB of my precious HD storage.
    stressing my WiFi and battery on each unauthorized download.
    is this apple-pestering legal?
    i don’t want iOS 11!
    so get off of my lawn, appesterers!

  45. Tamsk says:

    You could block the update server domain ( at your router, maybe? (If you use your iDevice on outside networks, this may not be as effective, but it’s possibly worth a shot.)

  46. For lacking a better topic to post in…
    Did anyone keep up with the recent updates to iTunes? I haven’t since they removed the App save functionality and since I get constant pop-ups when booting my PC to update (to 12.9.3 today) I am mildly curious if Apple backpedaled here and reimplemented the feature yet?

    Not holding my breath for it, given their policy of third party-curating and stuff in relation to apps…

  47. Apex says:

    I’m on on my Mac, and the feature is not back.

    Backpedaling on features like this is not something Apple is known for. I don’t know if someone on windows can confirm for 12.9.3.

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