Would a Rating System Have Prevented Trent Reznor’s AppStore Frustration?

A shaken baby game gets cleared for sale, but an official Nine Inch Nails app is rejected because users might hear some bad language from the 1994 album The Downward Spiral. Never mind that the album itself is readily available from the music side of the iTunes house.

Such are the vagaries of life on the iTunes AppStore, where an ESRB-like app rating system seems increasingly preferable to the hodgepodge system now in place.

While NIN frontman Trent Reznor (left) is not the first to vent about the AppStore situation, he may be the best-known celebrity to call Apple out. In his rant, Reznor even managed to pull Wal-mart and Grand Theft Auto into the mix:

Thanks Apple for the clear description of the problem – as in, what do you want us to change to get past your stupid… standards?


And while we’re at it, I’ll voice the same issue I had with Wal-Mart years ago… Wal-Mart went on a rampage years ago insisting all music they carry be censored of all profanity and "clean" versions be made for them to carry…


NIN refused… My reasoning was this: I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any "indecent" material for sale – but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film "Scarface" completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense?…


Come on Apple, think your policies through and… get your app approval scenario together.

Thanks to: Longtime GP reader ZippyDSM

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  1. Olmec1502 says:

    This whole argument over Reznor’s comment is preposterous and I think demonstrates the obvious admission that you all know that some video games are incredibly violent. Reznor’s argument is not citing video games as being particularly negative due to violence, if you read his original post (includes STRONG language) you’d realize he is arguing against hypocrisy.

    Some of you called this a slip. A slip of what? A slip of the truth? (Reznor made an album called the Slip….) You need to reconcile the fact that games like GTA are violent! Ok. Now that we have that clear, is violence in video games really a bad thing? Please deal with the actual reality of your favourite pastime instead of burying your heads in the sand like cowards and making straw-man arguments.

  2. Toxicity says:

    Also, note how he said you “can” be rewarded, rather than the usual implication that you’re FORCED to kill innocents.

  3. Toxicity says:

    Like it or not, what he said about GTA was technically correct, prostitutes drop money even if you don’t fuck them.

    Also, I think the fact that he made the soundtrack for Quake, and was a pretty big Quake/Doom fan, shows that he isn’t anti-videogame either.

  4. chadachada321 says:

    He didn’t say anything wrong or incorrect about GTA. There is prositute killing if you wish, and you are rewarded for doing so (like any people in the game) in the form of cash. He is a gamer and loves games, but used what he said to highlight Walmart’s stupidity.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  5. chadachada321 says:

    Oh come on, I’ve joked with my friends about GTA before, talking about how often I kill hookers and run over people. He didn’t even say "points" he said "rewarded." Which you do get rewarded: you get some money and the satisfaction inherent in hooker-killing.

    Also, this guy is very pro-game and pro-rights, he is in NO WAY the enemy, and meant his rant to showcase Walmart’s hypocrisy. He told no lies and was both funny and loud at the same time.

    Learn to dig deeper than "huurr GTA points he’s stupid hurrr"

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  6. DraginHikari says:

    I once asked that question when I worked at Wal-Mart in there electronic department and never really got a clear answer to it.  The only thing I got was that the company has never brought the issue into enough focus to really take the effort it.  In comparison to other electronic medium, music CDs were always constantly having there prices lowered and the mark-up on them was never very high.

    More or less this pretty much equalianted to me: They don’t make enough on it so they don’t give enough of a damn to make any alterations.

  7. gamadaya says:

    And in the form of actual points. I don’t actually know if you get more points for killing a prostitute than a normal person, but yeah, I doubt it. You can sometimes get extra money for killing hobos. Hobos apparently carry a lot of cash on their person, according to GTA. I wonder if that’s true or not.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  8. GoodRobotUs says:

    I suppose the thing that gets people’s goat is the fact that it’s always prostitutes that are mentioned, as though there is some kind of special reward for doing so, and that is a lie, you do get ‘points’ for killing a prostitute, in the form of cash, but the items dropped are no better and no worse than the items dropped by ordinary citizens.

    What censors try to do is make it sound like the game encourages people to kill prostitutes by making them give special rewards, above and beyond standard rewards, when they are killed, which isn’t strictly true, it just makes a better sound-byte when it is implied that it is.

  9. Roh02 says:

    in GTA if you kill someone for their money and your spotted doing so the cops will come after you in other words you get punished aswell as rewarded.

  10. gamadaya says:

    Well, first of all, he didn’t bring up the point system. He said "rewarded", which is completely valid, although it’s not like the reward is anything meaningful.

    And secondly, GTA does have a points system, at least in least San Andreas. I don’t have GTA IV, so I can’t say for sure if it does or doesn’t have points. Then again, he wasn’t specifically reffering to any GTA game in particular.

    In any case, I think it’s ironic when gamers yell at the media for not doing their research and saying that GTA grants points for certain actions, when in fact it does. Of course, the media didn’t actually do their research, they were really just pulling stuff out of their asses based on 30 year old gaming conventions.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  11. finaleve says:

    I was all for this guy until he brought up the usual non-existant "Point system" in GTA.  I know that you can beat up people for money, but those aren’t actual points for high scores or anything…and lets not forget the cops that will soon follow.

    And I’ve always had a problem with these "Unrated" veersions of movies, but I have a feeling there might be some underhanded actions in going on

  12. GoodRobotUs says:

    It’s just another affect of many parents being too lazy to check the media that their child is consuming and then kicking up a stink when they catch little Johnny watching ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ or the like.

    Maybe, just maybe, if parents had actually bothered to learn about the media equipment, and realised that almost all media equipment has parental controls, this wouldn’t have happened, but the government has done so much to encourage parents to be lazy, and expect companies and organisations to ‘protect’ their child, that parents really do need to be given a wake up call, and many of them have to learn that raising their child is their own responsibility.

    That said, of course, in order for that situation to arise, Apple would need a rating system in the first place, rather than simply arbitrarily passing and banning things at a surface glance…

  13. HarmlessBunny says:

    Trent has a good and valid point. How come Apple and Walmart in their respective venues dictate that they need ‘clean’ music, when they sell other Mature/R/NC-17 games and movies? Trent has as much right as those folks to be as ‘bad as he wants to be’.

    Give the guy a break…

  14. TBoneTony says:

    I feel sorry for him.

    Like no artist wants to be forced to make their art clean or censored because of what would the parents think.

    But then again, I guess not many people in the music industry understand that even Videogames have had some bad things said about them that weren’t even true.

    I have known allot of people who are into the music scene, and they don’t know much about videogames. So I can understand why he would somehow say that about GTA though his fustrations.


  15. chadachada321 says:

    If they advertise it -> potentially. If they allow more "adult" games -> potentially a fair amount of money.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  16. gamadaya says:

    A rating system would definitely have prevented Trent Reznor’s frustration, but how would it benefit Apple? How would implementing such a system make them more money? That’s the real question to ask.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  17. chadachada321 says:

    It’s a great phrase for the situation that half of the users on here are misinterpreting!

    When I read it, I chuckled. Because although the reward for killing a hooker is equal to that of other civilians, part of the fun is being like "lol hookers i run them over then take their money."

    It was pretty clear to me that he meant it jokingly, I don’t get why everyone else got all their panties in a bundle. You overreactors are part of the problem with getting the gaming message across. Shouting "liar" when there is none.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  18. Chuma says:

    I don’t deny that, and maybe someone will have a word in his ear about it, but comparing him to Jack is frankly ludicrous.  For starters, Trent is very much Pro-gaming.

  19. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Its still a bad phraze that can be easily misintperuted…

    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  20. Saxy says:

    That’s what I would be talking about. That, and the censoring of Mortal Kombat for the SNES.

  21. Shadow D. Darkman says:


    What the…?

    Zephyr Analea, is that you?


    "The sun will always rise tomorrow. We can only live for today, and hope more days will come." -Unknown

  22. mr_mlk says:

    Yeah, when trying to get from A to B with a battered heap of a car that I needed for the mission.

    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  23. Cerabret100 says:

    I never try to run over people in GTA.

    Unfortunately that’s what always happens.  I SUCK at driving in GTA.  and in Far Cry 2 i always run the jeeps (and only the jeeps) off bridges.

  24. GoodRobotUs says:

    You get a graded increase for killing small creatures, a small boost to your XP, and, on occasion a specific item, you won’t, e.g. get bearskins from rabbits, so different creatures produce different drops depending on the creature itself. In GTA, it doesn’t matter which civilians you kill, they will drop the same thing, so there’s no impetus whatsoever, no compulsion to kill prostitutes, which is what a lot of censors would have you believe that there is.

    I think that is the point people are trying to get at, however, I still suspect it was a slip of the tongue.


    Edit: Meant to be a reply to Pinworm

  25. Pinworm says:

    Right, and any regular units in WoW isn’t rewarding because the XP you get is so low and the money negligable. That’s why no one every kills NPCs in wow, they go straight for the raid bosses at level 1

    *rolls eyes*

    This is such a stupid argument and it’s mind boggling that people are heckling Raznor for this

  26. ZippyDSMlee says:

    If I have to explain how inconsequential the "reward" is and how substantial his gaffe is then you’re not bright enough to understand its a statement that can easily be misused and further misinformation.

    Gain a clue plz.


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  27. Zephyrus says:

    what the frig are you talking about? when you kill a prostitute and you get money I would call that a reward, and if you can get away from the police after they come after you you get to keep it, so his statement of being ‘rewarded for killing prositutes’ stands entirely correct, there’s no falsehood there, okay, so you get rewarded for killing regular joe too, big deal, so he didn’t say ‘rewarded for killing people including prostitutes’ big whoop such a big distinction

    you guys are making a huge deal out of a guy who is arguing for equal treatment between different media, exactly the same thing everyone here is arguing for day in and day out, and for the record, if the transcript is correct, he said "can" be rewarded, not ‘are’ so it’s not like he’s arguing the entire game revolves around the assault of prostitutes, merely that you have the ability to, unlike some arguments in the past from the media where they make it sound like the entire point of the game revolves around killing hookers

    seriously guys, don’t get your heckles up at the wrong people

  28. Chuma says:

    This is the man who wrote the music for Quake.  I’d suggest to you that he knows more than a little about computer games, it was purely that he was ranting and went a little too far.

  29. chadachada321 says:

    Fits your signature quite perfectly then, doesn’t it? =p

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  30. chadachada321 says:

    I wouldn’t really call it a slip, to be honest. If I was pointing out the hypocrisy of Walmart, I’d probably say something along his lines, knowing damn well that you don’t get "rewarded" per-say, other than personal satisfaction. He used it to prove a point, and we shouldn’t all get in a bundle and assume he meant it seriously…

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  31. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Gaffes happen all the time and we and others take everyone tot ask when they try and pull things like this willingly and above board even if they are lining through their teeth via hatred,spite or ignorance.


    Just becuse its a innocent gaffe dose not mean it should be noted and called out in part to bring to light the greater issue and in part to squelch the misinformation.


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  32. cpt crunchie says:

    i do it all the time (well, not really, since i don’t play gta much anymore). i would see a really tempting target, or a big crowd of people i could drive through, and then i think "i’d better not, i don’t want the cops on my ass".


    It is not murder; I am merely advancing the hands of the clock, just a bit.

  33. Vake Xeacons says:

    Exactly. He made a slip (obviously pissed), and it was probably out of his mouth before he said it.

    Point being, he’s being descriminated against where others slide by, and that’s not right.

  34. Pinworm says:

     Get over yourselves, he was speaking hyperbolically. I understand how you all feel, constantly having our games twisted and turned to sound evil for political purposes, but that’s not what happened here. 

    Pick your battles.

  35. SimonBob says:

    I usually try not to drive on the sidewalk when I’m on my way to a mission that would be easier without cruisers smacking into me from across the intersections.


    The Mammon Philosophy

  36. DarkSaber says:

    What he said. Has anyone in the history of GTA ever said "No I better not, the cops wont like it"


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  37. thefremen says:

     lrn 2 play gta

    1. kill prostitutes

    2. kill cops

    3. steal armored vehicle cops drove to get you

    4. ?????

    5. PROFIT!

  38. Jack says:

    Right, but the NOT being rewarded part comes in when the police show and kill/arrest you.


    So whlie there be an arguable benefit there is no reward. Crime in GTA results in punishment. Mostly.

  39. Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    Money drops from any person you kill in the game. What all of the alarmist game haters and unfortunately Mr Reznor here say is that you get rewards for specifically targetting prostitutes in the game, which is not true.

    The amount of money dropped does not vary very much between any of the pedestrian npcs. Using their powers of ignorance I could claim that GTA rewards you for killing black people because they drop money.

    There are no missions or objectives or achievements that require you to target and kill prostitutes in any of the GTA games.

  40. BrandonL337 says:

    Hunt you down without mercy 
    Hunt you down all nightmare long 
    Feel us breathe upon your face 
    Feel us shift, every move we trace

    I fuckin’ love that commercial

    There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can’t do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

  41. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Censorship? In MY works?

    I think not.


    "The sun will always rise tomorrow. We can only live for today, and hope more days will come." -Unknown

  42. gamadaya says:

    Why? You are rewarded by getting money and points (Don’t know about the point system in IV, I’m just guessing it’s similar to San Andreas), so his statement is true. And it’s not like he’s saying that it’s bad to do this, or that GTA immoral. He’s just saying that his music shouldn’t be censored if other media with violent or disturbing content isn’t censored.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  43. finaleve says:

    Would you be talking about the NES publisher restraint or something entirely different?

  44. Saxy says:

    try as I might, I can not take the man with the name of a Super Mario World boss seriously. Even if the name of the boss came from him.

    That being said, Apple needs to stop censoring everything. They’re becoming another 1990s Nintendo…

  45. Chuma says:

    Again, I repeat, this man wrote the music for Quake.  I read somewhere that he even claims to have last 2 years to playing it and hence didnt release any albums during that time.

    To paraphrase, don’t assume malice to what can be attributed to ranting.

  46. TeamDiscoveryChannel says:

    I agree with his point, but Rez lost some cool points for that statement.  Not cool, Trent.

  47. Zeke129 says:

    “Rewarded for beating up prostitutes”… sure thing, whatever you say there Jack Reznor.

  48. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I didn’t think GP would post mew quirky news fodder. Shows me!

    The main reason I sent it in the GP was the GTA gaffe you don’t get points/rewards for killing hookers you might get your money back…and cops hunting you…
    But anyway the deeper issue is how silly apple is being and just bluntly hypocritical warmart is when they want music censored but happy to sell  NC 17 films as unrated, what good is a rating system if it can be bypassed IE "unrated" anyway.

    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  49. Aurontsubaki says:

    Well that is the reason I didn’t add GTA to the comment. My opinion was that Trent is protecting his messages in the songs he sings from being tortured. Believe me listen to an explicit music cd edited is not a pretty picture, it sounds almost completely muted when it is edited.

    What we got here is failure to communicate!

  50. DarkSaber says:

    Then what is the money they drop? And they drop money regardless of whether you just used their services or not.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  51. Shadow D. Darkman says:


    "The sun will always rise tomorrow. We can only live for today, and hope more days will come." -Unknown

  52. Aurontsubaki says:

    Trent has a point, if Wal-Mart is allowed to carry violent movies such as Scarface, Hostel, Braveheart for example & not have them censored, why not sell music with explicit content uncut along the way. The same goes with they’re obsession of selling pan & scan dvds only. Trent is protecting his art from being butchered

    What we got here is failure to communicate!

  53. Yuuri says:

    He was pointing out how Wallyworld was being hypocritical, and how Apple is now doing the same thing. For Wallyworld, it was how the demand that artists provide/make a ‘clean’ version of a ‘naughty’ album was hypocritical, cause if a shopper turned around or around a corner, they could by an unrated copy of ‘scarface’ or a copy of one of the GTA’s. For Apple, it was how the shaken baby app initally got cleared, but because of the lyrics, from songs that are sold in iTunes, used in his game, his was not.

  54. Icehawk says:

    What is it about GTA (4 I guess) that carries such a bad rep?  

    Also what does Apple and Wallyworld have to do with each other? 


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