The most popular free game on iTunes right now allows users to grow and sell marijuana. "Weed Firm," developed by Manitoba Game, was released earlier this month and rose to popularity within mere hours.
The game's website explains how it works:
"Follow the story of an expelled botany sophomore Ted Growing as he inherits a growing operation and expands it. Learn to grow weed, plant new varieties to increase your yields, expand your customer base and interact with the characters to become the biggest weed dealer in town."
In addition to growing and selling pot, users can use their profits to purchase more growing materials, including a vinyl player that helps things grow faster. Players must bribe police along the way and are able to spend money on virtual strippers. Customers can even come by the player's customizable virtual apartment to pick up their weed and, if the gamer offers them a joint first, it'll affect their behavior.
The company says they only condone marijuana use within the context of the game.
"The creators of this game do not encourage the cultivation or use of cannabis. The plot of this game is solely a work of fiction and should be viewed only as such," the game's disclaimer reads.
However, some parents fear that easy access to the game will encourage children to participate in drug sales and/or use.
"Weed Firm" makes selling, buying and use drugs into a game, which is a problem within itself," says Corrinne Steep, a homeschooling mother of four. "Kids have such easy access to the game, largely because it's free. Apple's willingness to promote this game is worrisome."
CNET notes that Apple's decision to make this game available is surprising in light of their typically strict moral criteria for approving new apps.
Last year, Toronto photo-sharing startup 500px reported that both of its applications, 500px for iOS and ISO500, had been pulled from the Apple App Store due to concerns about nude photos.
In May 2009, Apple rejected the first version of 'Newspapers', an iPhone app that let users read content newspapers around the world due to the topless "Page 3" girls daily features being too "obscene." At the time, Steve Jobs commented that "We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone."