A shooting game endorsed by the National Rifle Association has been pulled from Apple’s mobile games store sometime in the last few days.
NRA: Practice Range was available on Apple’s App Store earlier this week. But following Polygon investigations into the game, it’s been taken down. The move comes at a time of intense pressure on companies that do business with the NRA.
When contacted by Polygon, MEDL Mobile, the company that originally made NRA: Practice Range, was clearly keen to distance itself from the project, saying that it offloaded the title years ago and has no ties with the NRA.
Soon after our conversation, the game was pulled from the App Store. We understand the decision to delete the game was not taken by Apple. The NRA’s core membership app is still available on the App Store.
NRA: Practice Range is a mobile game, launched back in 2013. It’s a free game that takes players through various ranges and skeet shoots. Players can purchase more powerful guns for a dollar, but they can’t be earned through gameplay.
The game was launched just weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre, and attracted negative publicity. The New York Daily News posted that the game “spits on the graves of Newtown massacre victims.”
An online petition called for the game to be banned, though the game continued to be distributed through the App Store.
At that time, the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, blamed games for the violence. He said: “There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse.”
NRA: Practice Range also attracted negative headlines because it was originally marked as appropriate for ages four and up. Following media uproar, that was amended to ages 12 and up.
In terms of quality, the game was received poorly. IGN lambasted its poor animation, visual textures and sound. PC Mag called it “slap-dash.”
Since its launch, the game seems to have acquired a mysterious history. On the App Store earlier this week, the game’s publisher was tagged as Inedible Software. We can’t find any functioning website for the company. Its Twitter account has been dormant since 2010. One of its co-founders’ LinkedIn pages says he left in 2012.
MEDL Mobile, the company that originally launched NRA: Practice Range creates apps, games and mobile tech for major entertainment brands including Disney, Taco Bell and Verizon.
Sales director Michael Campbell told Polygon: “The company stopped working with the NRA in 2013. The company was later sold in 2016 to new ownership and maintains no connections to or relationship with the NRA.”
He added that any agreement with Inedible ”was a relationship of the previous ownership. I’m not in a position to know or to comment on their transactions.” Campbell declined to provide further information on the NRA deal, the status of the game, or the sale of the company. MEDL’s current president Dave Swartz was a company founder, according to Wikipedia.
Whatever the details, it’s clear that MEDL prefers to forget about its relationship with the NRA, which is not included in its online selection of star clients. This follows a general pattern of distancing between brands and the NRA in recent days; Delta Airlines, Hertz and Best Western have canceled agreements with the NRA.
Polygon contacted Apple and the NRA about the disappearance of NRA: Practice Range from the App Store. We’ll update this story if and when those organizations get back to us.