Papers, Please Censored by Apple for iPad Release


[Editor’s Note: The removal of the nude body scans not only is patently absurd, it also essentially breaks that part of the game’s security gameplay mechanic, i.e. verifying a person’s gender in regards to their passport, or looking for hidden explosives.]

The censorship is strong right now. We’ve already seen the fiasco surrounding the banning of Grand Theft Auto in Australian Target stores and, now that the iPad release of indie hit Papers, Please is upon us, word is it will be censored for “pornographic content”.

According to the game’s developer, Lucas Pope, the game was submitted with a 17+ setting originally. That build was rejected, so he resubmitted a tamer version with a 12+ rating that was accepted.

Oh, the pornography!

Papers, Please simulates a day in the life of an immigration inspector for the fictional country of Arstotzka. The player processes as many applicants as possible in real-time before the end of their day. If they feel an individual warrants further investigation, they may even take fingerprints or do a whole body scan.

The last is the option in question. The game features the ability to toggle nudity during body scans on and off. That’s something that Apple apparently would have none of. This forced Pope to alter the game, by removing the nudity option, so that it could be published on the app store. He has said he may appeal the decision but didn’t want to hold up the release any longer.

That’s a fair decision for the sake of his fans and himself, but one he shouldn’t have had to make. This is a well respected and loved game that was nominated for, and won, multiple Game Developers Choice Awards and the “pornographic content” it was rejected for was pretty mild at worst.

The makers of Starless: Nymphomaniac’s Paradise felt the need to tame down their game for Western censors.
The makers of Starless: Nymphomaniac’s Paradise felt the need to tame down their game for Western censors.

It is well known that Niche Gamer opposes any kind of censorship and embraces free speech, and when we see events like this transpire, which in some cases now compels developers to self-censor their work, we worry about the future for those that wish to create and publish their works.

If a person does not feel free to express themselves in art we all lose out.



  1. Meittimies
    December 11, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Looks like we are facing yet another age of neopuritanism when it comes to video games and censoring them. Of course one good thing is controversial games start having a bigger market. Carmageddon 1 & 2 were fan-favorites simply because of how much the media was willing to censor it and how certain countries actually did censor it. Notoriety sells. It is what put GTA-series on the pedestal in the first place.

  2. Everyday Legend
    Everyday Legend
    December 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Sounds like a great time to start jailbreaking your iOS device / rooting Android device and start getting options for buying .ipa / .apk files direct from the creators, cutting out middlemen who want to censor and “protect” on the silliest of assumptions.

  3. Mark Samenfink
    Mark Samenfink
    December 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Oh for fuck’s sake!

  4. HarisO
    December 11, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That’s the problem of closed marketplaces like the various app stores, PSN, XBL, Steam etc. You got Gatekeepers that can decide that some content is just unacceptable. Even the tiniest bit of nudity that isn’t even sexual in nature.

  5. hououinkyouma
    December 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

    That’s a shitty move. I’ve never owned an iDevice and this just reinforces my motivation not to get one. Papers Please is awesome on the desktop. I’ll play it there instead.

  6. Murielyiyo
    December 11, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Never bought an apple product, never going to, this is ridiculous.

  7. MaidKillua
    December 11, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I hate sexual content and even i’m 100% against censorship. I mean in this case it was optional anyway but even in the case that it isn’t, i’d rather be left unable to play a game that i’d otherwise enjoy than have it censored

  8. Cy
    December 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Apple has always been the worst at letting things go up on their app store without being censored. It’s one of the reasons why I’ll never spend money on an “i” anything.

  9. noxteryn
    December 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Guys, you’re missing the point here. The nudity in Papers, Please wasn’t pornographic in the slightest. It wasn’t there to excite or arouse or provide any sexual gratification in any way. It was there to portray the loss of privacy under a totalitarian regime that exploits the fear of terrorism to violate basic rights. It was a very poignant piece of political commentary. Apple is fucking retarded for censoring that.

  10. Nonscpo
    December 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    In all fairness Mark while I understand the anger and frustration when it comes to any form of censorship, you cant really compare the censorship of paper please with Starless: Nymphomaniac’s Paradise.

  11. Game Guy
    Game Guy
    December 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Good thing I refuse to give Apple Business. Anyone who promotes censorship of any kind and forces it on others should never be given the time of day

  12. Mark
    December 11, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Just to clarify, I didn’t say Starless was in fact censored like Papers, but I said we’re even starting to see devs self-censor, such as the case of Starless, where they removed certain content they were afraid wouldn’t be received well in the West. We can call it “localization” but it’s still a fear of your art being deemed too graphic/vulgar etc, thus altering.

  13. Fenrir007
    December 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Standard Apple practice. Expecting any different outcome from a company so allergic to freedom would be insane.

  14. sanic
    December 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Those idiots allowed a chinese version of pokemon yellow on the store but took issue with this?

  15. OneClassyBloke
    December 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Amazing to see fictional characters on an iPad have more rights for privacy than real passengers at airports…

  16. Uranus
    December 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    As sad as it is, this is what happens when there’s monopoly on the iOS app market. :( Lack of competition means the customers and content providers suck it to get their things from and on the market. What we desperately need is alternative to the App store on iOS.

    Like on PC, Steam wouldn’t send hentai games, but there is a place to get them fairly easy. On iOS, there isn’t a place to get adult games.

  17. Mooney
    December 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    When i read the title i was expecting worse to be honest, in my opinion thats an okay thing to give up for the sake of having the game on ipad, and boosting sales and awareness for the developer, its not like anything important and crucial to the experience was asked to be removed. Yes it sucks that something has to be censored, but it feel its worth it overall just to make a small sacrifice for the sake of being on the platform

  18. 33
    December 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Just buy an Android. It’s easier.

  19. Teutates
    December 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    this is why as a future dev i have not interest in apple products >_> its too limiting apple wants its safe… apple blocks everything even if you get even close to some subjects

  20. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    December 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    A good point, let me add a clarification for that. It also makes that mechanic pointless, as you can’t do the full/nude body scans anymore.

  21. ZURATAMA1324
    December 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I can’t imagine why they would censor Papers Please.
    It is not like there are kids getting off to these kinds of pictures.
    or… is there?

  22. Pig Stylay
    Pig Stylay
    December 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Sue Apple on grounds of gagging free-speech and artistic freedoms. Someone has to do it or this kind of news will stay in the dark. Get Saul Goodman.

  23. Everyday Legend
    Everyday Legend
    December 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I use an iPad Air and a Galaxy S4 running CM11. :D

  24. British_Otaku
    December 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Not particularly bugged by this, sure this isn’t the complete version of the game and it is absurd that something which basically crosses no lines (if that image represents the highest degree of nudity – can’t even call it sexuality).

    However, Apple just have a very strict system which they will have to work out. Similar to how console manufacturers (and Steam) wouldn’t accept games with some content in them even before I mention the rating systems, law and individual stores.

    I’m trying to think about why I’m bugged by censorship in general and not this one… and in brief, this is a set manufacturer system and preferable versions are still being accepted in other means. I guess by extension, it means I’m not that bugged by Target’s response to GTAV even if it was stupid.

  25. Emma Reade
    Emma Reade
    December 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    This is just crazy our society has gotten so easily offended. Weren’t we supposed to be the forward thinking generation.

  26. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    December 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    This isn’t trying to avoid legal trouble, this is just plain censorship. I understand wanting to grow and appease your audience, and I get wanting to have your game on multiple platforms, but at that point I’d honestly rather just not put it on ipads period.

  27. bphelmet
    December 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    glad i’ve never bought an apple device other than the original ipod nano. i knew they would take down content that are for purely sexual purposes, but this has nothing to do with sexuality or sexual pleasure. come on apple.

  28. Fenrir007
    December 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    You don’t even need a custom rom to do that on android – that is the beauty of it.

  29. Juan Andrés Valencia
    Juan Andrés Valencia
    December 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Starless got censored for a few scenes involving guro, scat and bestiality. It’s also a nukige so you are supposed to play it to be turned on. There’s a very thin plot holding everything together but that’s it. I have no idea how the law works globally but I could see many problems arising from the bestiality in the US. It’s very probable an “anonymous source” will restore that content soon after launch.

    Papers, Please is a bleak game about letting people in or out of your country. There’s no pornography involved in it. Pornography is something entirely designed to arouse you. I’m pretty sure no one would find it arousing at all, if anything it’s depressing.

  30. Anton A. Hill
    Anton A. Hill
    December 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Any spine ripping in Papers, Please? No? Then not for me. :)

  31. Farwin
    December 11, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Thisx1000. I don’t have anything necessarily against apple saying “we don’t want to provide this content,” (it’s their right,) but it’s completely different where there’s no alternatives.

    At least self-censored movies have an “Unrated” version on home video release.

  32. SonofaGlitch
    December 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    No, you can. If I recall from the non-nude option from the PC release it just adds underwear to the sprites when you scan them. Which is a compromise put into the original game for those who don’t want to look at naked people for some reason (probably because the nudity in P,P is realistic – lots of overweight and non glamourized forms.

    I assume the only difference between the builds is that Pope set the build so “Non-Nude” is always on, and hid the option from the menu. Much easier to do that than to remove art assets and rework a lot of other code and stuff.

  33. Everyday Legend
    Everyday Legend
    December 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

    No, you don’t. But it is wonderful to run non-stock OS.

  34. Fenrir007
    December 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    It definitely is. I have Aurora Lite on my Xperia Play and X-Notes on my Note 3 and they are both miles better than stock.