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Apple Arcade and Proper Controller Support for iPads
Some quick thoughts on Apple’s moves in the gaming market.
Apple has been this quiet juggernaut in mobile gaming just due to the sheer size of the iPhone and iPad install base. Hits like Doodle Jump or Temple Run were played by virtually everyone I know. The chips in smartphones have improved rapidly and continue to do so at an alarming pace (alarming if you are Intel). With those developments, “serious” smartphone games like Infinity Blade started appearing in the App Store which pushed the hardware and Apple was sure to highlight titles like these in their events.
Games like GTA: San Andreas received full ports to phones and tablets, and now we even have Civilization VI for iPad! What a time to be alive, right?
Well... no. No writing about mobile gaming can avoid mentioning the anti-consumer business models that, at this point, plague the App Store and Play Store. Buying apps, let alone games, for a one-off fee is not sustainable for many developers. We have games that prey on those with addictive tendencies. Yes, perhaps you can say no to a £1.99 in-app cosmetic item. If you are able to say no, then you are not the target customer! The whole model can be explained by the 80/20 rule, where the majority of the revenue is generated by the minority of the players. “Whales” are individuals that spend a fortune in these games and that is where the money comes from. These games deceive us and trick us into spending money and now with lootboxes being common, they can also be a form of gambling, yet it is not regulated as such.
I think Apple is ashamed about it, though they are not incentivised to ban those practices. Those apps must generate at least multiple hundreds of millions for the App Store.
Apple announced Apple Arcade at an event earlier this year and the premise is that you pay a yet-to-be-disclosed amount each month in return for a library of titles. Games are available offline and will have no in-app purchases.
Apple says there will be “handpicked” titles in addition to their original content, so I presume you will still be able to purchase some games directly. I like the idea of creation of original games approach for this service. Developers probably get paid a decent amount of money upfront to work on a title with the fundamental tenets of no always-online connectivity and no in-app purchases or ads. As I will argue in a later newsletter, the business model of a game affects the core of game design. The freedom to focus on the game being an immersing experience rather than an addictive arcade game will make a vast difference and is a positive influence.
Whilst little has been disclosed about the service I am genuinely looking forward to it. High-quality mobile games really need a boost creatively as well as financially.
DualShock 4 and XBOX One S Controller Support
So this is incredibly exciting.
Touch can be a great input method but really limiting and frustrating also. It is one reason for why console/PC-style games are simply not suited for most games. And whilst Apple devices supported some expensive yet bad controllers, they have come to their senses and will be allowing Xbox and PS4 controllers with their large iPhone and iPad updates in autumn.
Support will also come to the Apple TV, a little smart box that will surely receive a boost in sales as a result. Though looking into it, the largest storage option is 64GB which means true PC/console games just cannot fit on the device.
I am looking forward to these changes and hopefully they will have a positive impact on mobile games as a whole.
On the topic of premium games, Holedown is an amazing game available for iOS and Android. One-off purchase, no ads, no in-app transactions. Still highly addictive. In case I work with you, no I did not play Holedown during the entire meeting. I definitely have not. Their website is here.
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