When developers launch an app on the Apple App Store, they can select where it’s released on a country-by-country basis. Each country is set in a certain region, so developers can be as broad or as specific as they need. However, a new bug in the App Store is limiting that range, which is causing trouble for app developers and their App Store Optimization.
App Store Error
App developers discovered the error after attempting to edit the availability for their apps. When developers go to “Availability” under the “Pricing & Availability” tools, normally they can select their choice of 175 countries. This error has removed the specific countries and is now only making apps available on a regional basis.
Users on Apple’s Developer Forums have been expressing their concerns. Apps that should only be available in certain countries are now set as available worldwide. Some developers have stated that unchecking any regions changes their app to being available in no regions and removed from sale.
What This Means
Being able to select specific countries for an app release is important for App Store Optimization for several reasons. Different countries will have varying guidelines or requirements for their apps that may require specific releases.
This could cause difficulty in a number of countries, due to their specific guidelines. Mobile games in China are required to have an ISBN and government approval. Meanwhile, South Korea has strict app requirements for certain content (such as gambling, alcohol or violence), including applying for a Rating Classification Number before they can be sold. Both of these countries fall under the “Asia Pacific” region.
If a developer wanted to launch a game in Japan, this bug would not let them disambiguate between being live in Japan, China and South Korea (among other territories) where it may not reach the requirements for countries it does not intend to be distributed in.
Being able to select specific countries where an app can be released is important for app developers, which this error is making impossible. Until this is addressed, if a developer wants to release an app in the United States, they’ll have to launch in Canada as well, and trying to launch in specific European countries will mean launching in all of Europe.
What to Do
This error has been reported to Apple, although we do not have an estimate as to how long fixing it will take. Developers should check the availability for their apps and see how this has impacted them, then keep a close eye on any reports of updates and monitor their metrics to watch for any issues this may cause.
As of 9/3 at 8pm PST, individual countries are once again selectable in App Store Connect. Some apps may now display previously unselected territories marked as available for distribution - stay tuned for more information.
Want to learn more about App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.