Update: Apple has removed the offending apps, the company told me via email. Holiday downloaders are now safe from this attempted scam.
A couple of new apps that just hit the iOS App Store ahead of the annual App Store holiday freeze are not what they appear to be. Masquerading as official Halo 4 ports for Apple’s mobile devices, these are actually a pretty lame racing game and an adequate chess simulator, which have somehow managed to be reborn with new names, descriptions and screenshots, but appear to have kept their reviews intact.
The resulting illusion is of highly rated Halo 4 iOS titles (though one-star reviews are starting to percolate as people get wise), one universal and one iPhone-specific, with price tags that, while a steal were they actually Halo 4, are actually stealing from you instead. Nothing in the description of either of these games would lead anyone to believe that these aren’t official ports (besides a few instances of dodgy sentence structure), and each in fact advertises iOS-specific features like Game Center integration.
The illusion even permeates down to the developer and support links for each app, which takes you to a page for Halo 4 that event claims a 343 Industries copyright at the bottom. That’s not like the scams we’ve seen in the past where developers have provided so-called “guides” for Minecraft that lift assets and look like the game itself in screenshots and description, but have a small disclaimer noting they aren’t actually a game. This is a full-blown scam, without any possible defense, and it’s a shame to see it hit the App Store right when downloads usually pop over the holidays, and when Apple is in a position where it might not be able to do anything to reverse it until the freeze lifts December 28.
I’ve opted not to link them here because I’d rather not contribute to their heinous plot, but check out AppShopper if you’re curious and want to see the elaborate ruse in full. One thing’s for sure: whoever Dung Bui and Toan Tran (the developers listed for these apps) are, they won’t be getting back on the App Store anytime soon once Apple takes steps to resolve this mess. Speaking of resolutions, we’ve reached out to Apple to let them know about the offending apps and will update if we hear back. For now though, spread the word, since friends don’t let friends buy fake iOS Halo games.