April 22, 2014
Google And Apple Play A Game For Exclusives
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While Apple founder Steve Jobs' resume included a stint at video game pioneer Atari he reportedly wasn't exactly fond of games - so much so that game industry insiders actually shied away from developing games for the Apple Mac OS.
Among the offers for game and app developers are premium placement on the home pages of the app stores and features lists, according to unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal. The August release of "Plants Vs. Zombies 2" is one example. Game publisher Electronic Arts received promotional placement such as being prominently placed in the App Store, according to the publication.
"In exchange, one of these people said, EA agreed to give Apple about a two-month window of exclusivity for the title, which wasn't released on Google's Android software until October," wrote the Wall Street Journal's Ian Sherr and Daisuke Wakabayashi.
Similar incentives were offered to ZeptoLab for its "Cut the Rope" sequel released in December. "The company and Apple agreed to about a three-month window of exclusivity for Apple's App Store, in exchange for the store prominently promoting the game, one person familiar with the matter said. ZeptoLab launched an Android version in late March," wrote Sherr and Wakabayashi.
The practice emulates one used for the release of videogame consoles, and Google and Apple may be doing this to get users to switch platforms.
"When people love a game, and it's not available on an alternate platform, they'll change platforms," Emily Greer, head of GameStop-owned gaming service Kongregate told the Wall Street Journal. "The level of attachment a person has to a game can exceed almost anything."
Google and Apple aren't the only companies vying for exclusives. Amazon has been known to offer perks for developers who will publish games and other apps for the Kindle platform exclusively, MacRumors reports. "Amazon has also carried out similar practices, offering promotional spots on its Amazon Appstore in order for the rights to launch games on its Kindle family of devices. An Amazon spokeswoman corroborated these claims, stating that the company 'works with many developers to bring their apps to the Amazon Appstore.' The company’s new Fire TV media streaming box, which was released earlier this month, contains dedicated support for games, even offering a $39 wireless Fire game controller."
The practice will likely continue, and spread to new platforms. While Amazon released its Kindle Fire TV in April, both Google and Apple are reportedly working on set top boxes. Games feature on all three platforms, as well as other apps that might be sought after by one of the box providers.
Games hold a certain attraction, but even with exclusives, they are not always the deciding factor for a platform choice. IDC analyst Lewis Ward questioned in the Wall Street Journal article whether exclusive titles factor in to the choice of platform for a smartphone or tablet purchase. "In terms of the decision factors of why you buy the device you do, games are very low."
The strategy for Android and OSX, among other platforms, is to get users invested in one platform. To switch platforms would mean to purchase all new apps. It is an investment on top of the cost of the device.