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Flight Control, Real Racing, and other iOS classics disappear from App Store

Flight Control, Real Racing, and other iOS apps that defined the mobile gaming landscape in the early days of smartphones have been quietly pulled from the App Store by publisher Electronic Arts, and are unlikely to return.

iOS enthusiast site Touch Arcade reports that nearly two dozen EA-published apps disappeared earlier this month. The mass-deletion was not widely announced outside of the publisher’s help site.

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Among the now-missing apps are Flight Control, a touch-driven air traffic control simulator, and Real Racing, a sim-styled racer known for its impressive graphics. Both games were developed by Australian studio Firemint, and both topped the App Store’s paid app sales charts for multiple weeks in a row after their initial launches in 2009. Apple’s marketplace has since shifted to favor free-to-play apps, as opposed to games that demand up-front payment to download.

Other Firemint-developed apps on the chopping block this week include Spy Mouse and Flight Control Rocket. Electronic Arts acquired Firemint in 2011, transforming it into an internal EA Interactive developer under the new name Firemonkeys Studios.

Electronic Arts removed several apps based on its popular franchises earlier this month, including Dead Space, Mass Effect Infiltrator, Need for Speed Shift, The Sims Medieval, and Skate It. The PopCap-developed Bejeweled 2 has also gone missing, along with Maxis’ Spore Creator and Spore Origin.

EA notes that players who already downloaded these apps can continue playing them, but warns that they may cease to function after installing new iOS firmware updates. Once deleted, these games cannot be recovered. Apple will launch iOS 9 on September 16.

Apple requires app creators to update their published iOS titles with every major firmware update, in order to maintain compatibility and security. Given the time and cost involved in updating iOS apps on a regular basis, many publishers opt instead to remove legacy software from the App Store once it becomes unprofitable to do so. Many of EA’s recently removed apps ended with support for iOS 7.1.2 and below, and will be incompatible with future firmware updates.