Apple Cracks Down on iMessage Stickers

Apple has begun a policy of rejecting new iMessage sticker packs from developer accounts deemed to have too many stickers. On the other hand Apple's Editorial team seems to take the opposite stance and continues to feature small niche sticker packs predominantly rather than large containers of stickers. This global policy shift is a push towards a small number of large containers with in-app purchases. If this policy is extended into more categories, any developer with many apps using a similar model could be effected. I am writing this because I believe other sticker artists and developers have a right to know this information before they waste time and resources like I did.

I am the creator and artist of OMGmoji, a sticker app for iMessage. I am also the developer of the app Flashcard Maker. My stickers have been featured on the front page of the iOS App Store in the USA and worldwide, my Ramen sticker pack is currently featured in Apple's 'Sticker Fight' commercial. I hand draw each sticker for each pack, there is no duplication or re-skinning involved. 36 of my individual sticker packs have been or are currently featured in the App Store, many of them have been featured multiple times, in multiple countries, some with banner artwork. I have been featured for every holiday since Valentine's Day with the exception of Father's Day for which I was not able to release my content as an individual sticker pack due to Apple's new policy.

Many months ago when my niche sticker packs started getting featured heavily I took this opportunity for my company This Century Software to spend over two months developing in-house tools to aid in the screenshot building and app submission process, this way I could just focus on creating stickers. As I pushed more packs they continued to get featured and purchased every week. I saw many other developers doing this, some with nearly 1000 packs, so I was very encouraged that I was doing the right thing. Suddenly in May my new stickers were getting rejected for [4.3 design spam]. I had about 150 packs in the store at the time. A phone call was scheduled for sometime in the next 3 days, after the 4th day I contacted the developer portal again and on the 6th day I was informed over the phone that this was a global policy decision. After that I decided to push a sticker container app called OMGmoji which then went through a battle with app store review with many misunderstandings over many weeks to make it on to the store.

In an effort to reduce the waiting times and rejections I began removing individual sticker packs from the store. After removing about 10 packs, I found that any pack that had ever been in a bundle could never be deleted so I transferred them to another developer account so they can be deleted at a later date. This included many packs currently featured in the store and with promotional artwork. I have since left those packs on the other account as I do not want to interfere with any current or scheduled features. Since then many of those packs have received new features. It now remains unclear whether sticker containers such as OMGmoji will have a place to be featured in the new iOS 11 App Store given the sheer volume of individual sticker packs that exist. Editorial likes to create focused collections of stickers, containers do not play nicely in that model. If this policy is extended into other app categories, any developer with multiple apps with content variations could be effected.