Apple and games: what is going on?
One moment the company's censoring guns in screenshots and banning games for daring to imply anything even remotely political.
The next it launches a Twitter account dedicated solely to promoting iOS games (@AppStoreGames - currently 166k followers) only days before its public unveiling of the gaming-focused Apple TV.
These various moves aren't separate. It's clear that Apple wants to promote games but only certain types of games. Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, Game of War - Fire Age? Sure, the big hitters are obviously going to get support.
But Apple reckons its new Twitter account will do more than this. It's meant to reach out further and find the smaller games that not so many people know about but should. It's a curated stream of promotions hand-picked by the App Store editors.
We're yet to see if the Twitter account will live up to that promise. So while we wait, we thought to ask our Indie Mavens what they thought about Apple's promotional efforts, and whether they feel included in them at all. We asked them:
- Apple recently launched a Twitter account dedicated entirely to promoting quality iOS games. What do you hope to see from this new account? How else could Apple help to promote indie games?
It's a good additional way of getting the word out about your game.
The main concern is always the same. Will Apple promote games that are high quality but have not sold very well?
If you look at the games promoted so far you can see that all of those games already "made" it.
I'm not suggesting to present work that is not up to Apples standards but maybe they could invest a little bit more research in finding games that are somewhat "under the radar" so far.
From a consumer perspective, I'd love to see Apple promote games on that account that I've not heard of. There are so many titles on the App Store, keeping up with all the good ones is tricky.
I'd like to see even more specialised accounts.Ben Murch
I don't really feel compelled to trawl through the App Store charts to find titles, so any way of suggesting interesting titles to me is a good thing.
From a developer point of view, I'd like to see even more specialised accounts. For instance an account for "Great Turn Based Strategy Games".
By doing this, they can build micro-communities around genres and shout to them when new titles come out which fit that mould.
Imagine a Twitter account solely dedicated to "Horror-Strategy Titles", or "Minute Gameplay Bursts". It would certainly help first time developers when their titles hit the store.
This Twitter account is news to me, and I like to think I stay on top of App Store news pretty well. Hmm! Seems like a neat idea. I hope to see that they highlight some indie gems.
It'd also be awesome if they could find some great games that passed under the radar when they first launched. I realize there are only so many people who would be interested in this, but for those that would be, I think it'd definitely be worth it.
Apple has added many new sections that have probably increased visibility for smaller-name games.Andrew Armstrong
I'd love to see more cooperation between Apple and smaller developers. Working together to help each other instead of the current situation which kind of feels like "You'd better be a viral hit or we're disowning you".
I love Apple and the fact that I get to put my work in front of thousands of eyeballs because of the App Store, but I can't help but feel a little unimportant in Apple's eyes.
However, even over the past year or two Apple has added many new sections that have probably increased visibility for smaller-name games, and I do appreciate it, but I bet it could be improved.
For a lot of smaller-name games, if they don't blow up in popularity during launch, it's pretty much over for them. Apple doesn't care much about games that aren't currently popular even if they are wonderful games. That makes sense from a money perspective on Apple's end, but it's pretty disheartening for the developer.
How to fix this? I don't know..
(I'm not trying to whine about the woes of having a dream job, I'm just venting a few concerns that I'm sure are on others' minds.)
The App Store Games account seems to be focussed on recognizable brands like Minecraft or Fallout and indie games that already managed to get enough attention to be considered successful, so the question remains if this makes a difference for any aspiring indie game designers.
For us developers, it doesn't matter as long as they don't include smaller titles.Constantin Graf
I think from Apple's perspective it makes sense, because those games are what makes a big chunk of the revenue. From a consumer perspective it maybe strengthens the bond between user and brand, but doesn't encourage them to try something they don't already know.
For us developers it doesn't matter as long as they don't include smaller titles that have the quality, but not the marketing power.
I just saw that they started doing challenges via this account. This would be a great opportunity to promote more obscure games that have a strong competitive component.
Another option to engage users would be to have a weekly raffle with codes for lesser-known apps.
I hadn't stumbled across this before so thanks for the link! I feel like Apple could benefit from creating a promotion cycle like Steam. Give each new game a preset number of impressions on the front page (say 100,000) and see how it performs.
This would give lesser known apps a chance to shine without compromising the appeal of the app store.
At the end of the day, I understand why Apple is promoting games that are well established. If a high quality game isn't positioned properly in the market or doesn't have a hook, giving it more promotion won't improve the numbers. It's on the developers to create something people want.
The current climate means that Apple has the pick of the litter, and it makes sense that they would pick the best performing most mass-market games. Having niche categories would be a great way for them to attract different types of gamers and segment the market a little.
I am not sure if this does help that much. The huge number of games make it still difficult to stand out. And we have seen that not just only the best games get the attention, there is still a huge amount of luck needed to be picked up.
Apple already does feature good games, but still it does not mean that a feature means good sales. We saw Proun+ featured by Apple, but it still didn’t make huge sales.
We can say it was a quality game as it got a metacritic score of about 8.5. Any additional marketing support from Apple is great, but I doubt it will make a big difference for revenues.
Apple already does feature good games, but still it does not mean that a feature means good sales.Ivo Wubbels
Solving the problem of overpopulation would need a different approach. In In the console world the problem of overpopulation is “simply” solved by releasing new hardware.
So each few years there is a fresh start for developers. For many developers it would be great if Apple would do the same, but I do not see that happen.
Another approach may be to have a seperated shop for quality games and small indie games, something like Microsoft did on Xbox Live Arcade. Again this may not be easy, as the line between small indie games and bigger quality games is often thin.
I'm interested to see what they do with it. So far I'm noticing they're putting a big focus showing off games in Twitter videos, which I haven't really gotten into trying yet. I think it's finally time that I try that because it seems a lot better than gifs.
I don't think the new Twitter account is going to be so much about discoverability of obscure titles so much as it will be about sustaining games that already had some measure of success.
I'm also not sure if it needs to be any different. Discovering hidden gems will probably still be handled by sites like Pocket Gamer or TouchArcade or other sites. That and Apple's Best New Games featuring, which I think they do a pretty fair job of handing out to both smaller and bigger developers.