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Apple, Google Vying For Mobile Game Exclusivity 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the mine-all-mine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Here's an interesting look at the battle for mobile video game money between Google and Apple. 'Last August, for the launch of "Plants Vs. Zombies 2," a highly anticipated sequel to a popular zombie-survival strategy game, publisher Electronic Arts Inc. struck a deal with Apple, which promoted the game prominently in its App Store, according to people familiar with the matter. 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.'"
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Apple, Google Vying For Mobile Game Exclusivity

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  • Too bad it sucked (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:21AM (#46805883)

    because of micropayment hell.
    Was looking forward to it and would have paid for it. It as good time waster when flying.

    • by mlts (1038732) on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:26AM (#46805951)

      Almost all games have fallen into that pit since 2011 and IAP became doable. Games that cost a few bucks and were very playable now are "free", but require numerous micropayments to be even playable. Want the same weapons/towers/birds that you had when you paid for the game in the pre-2011 version? That'll cost you, likely $10-20 total.

      • by gweilo8888 (921799) on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:52AM (#46806225)
        Mod parent up. This is the reason I've stopped playing games almost entirely -- I am sick of being nickel-and-dimed to death.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          So you might say...

          *removes sunglasses*

          You're tired of their games?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Yeeeaaaaaaaaaa [Insert quarter to hear remainder of yeah.]

        • Mod parent up. This is the reason I've stopped playing games almost entirely -- I am sick of being nickel-and-dimed to death.

          This sounds like going to a cheap theater and complaining the experience sucks and concession stand prices are high.

          One option is to go to a theater that does't suck, and pass on the concession stand.

          Neither of these will be cheap AND good. Shocker.

          • by Andrio (2580551)

            Bad analogy. The theaters are just vehicles for the content, not the content itself.

            A better analogy would be going to see a the sequel to a great movie you really liked, only to find out you have to pay $0.99 for each character to appear in the movie. You're also given the option to skip the boring beginning credits, but that costs 0.99 cents. The high-quality CGI special effects are an extra $1.99. Every 30 minutes, you have a 10 minute wait, although you can bypass them by paying an additional 0.99 cents

      • What is a developer to do? People want to try before buying.

        Personally, in the things I publish, ex Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com], a RPN Sci Stat Biz Hex Bill/Tip calculator that supports fractions and complex numbers, I like the idea of two apps. A fully paid app that is ad free and includes all functionality and a second free app that has only basic functionality, scientific functionality, but is expandable and ads are removable (Biz, Hex etc are in-app purchase). The later lets people try things out. As an incentive
        • So how should I go about trying your apps before buying the iPod touch or iPad mini on which to run them, in addition to whatever Android kit I already have?
          • Although I find it impossible that you don't have friends or family who have several iOS devices to test a trial version app on, here's an answer:

            Pick a random direction, walk 10 feet, bump into any random person who already owns an iOS device, buy them a coffee in exchange for them letting you try an app on their device.

            • by tepples (727027)
              Apart from potential "I don't want you touching my...", that might work. Still, I don't see how any single app can be worth $299.
        • You are not an asshole.

          I've used apps that have payment systems like you describe, and I've found it to be a completely fair balance between free trial and paying, and I usually pay.

          Neither are studios like TellTale that create episodic content. Often, the first episode is free, and you pay per episode after that. They create new content, and if I like what I've had so far, I pay for more. We both win. The developer gets more money and I get more content.

          EA, et all, ARE assholes. There is no full version, b

        • by JanneM (7445)

          A free but limited version and a full, paid one is completely reasonable. There's several ways to do it too, but I think perhaps the best division is between the casual and the dedicated user. Casual users are unlikely to pay if forced, but they can still be good advocates for the app, so it may be worth it making sure they still have something to use.

          The Aedict Japanees dictionary, for instance, is one of my most used apps. It has a free version that is really the full old (pre-Android 4) version of the ap

          • by rsborg (111459)

            A free but limited version and a full, paid one is completely reasonable. There's several ways to do it too, but I think perhaps the best division is between the casual and the dedicated user. Casual users are unlikely to pay if forced, but they can still be good advocates for the app, so it may be worth it making sure they still have something to use.

            I also like the Carcassonne/Ascension model: DLC game expansions within the game as IAP. That's how to do IAP right, not this "buy my virtual coin" bullshit

    • by Swampash (1131503) on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:31AM (#46806007)

      because of micropayment hell.
      Was looking forward to it and would have paid for it.

      Quoted for great truth.

      PvZ was and remains a fantastic little cartoon tower defence game. PvZ2 is rubbish.

      • Quoted for great truth.

        PvZ was and remains a fantastic little cartoon tower defence game. PvZ2 is rubbish.

        I disagree. I got PvZ2 and played the first three worlds without paying any money. I did buy some of the extra plants later just to give the company some money, but as far as playability, they don't help. The game is geared towards enabling weak willed people who are willing to pay to hit the easy button all the time, but that is hardly required to play the game. All the plants that are needed to play are in the game for free. Really, the plants I bought actually hurt my game play in the endless games becau

    • by Anonymous Coward

      because of micropayment hell.
      Was looking forward to it and would have paid for it. It as good time waster when flying.

      I absolutely agree 100%. I never even considered PvZ2 when it was announced that it would have micropayments.

      But there's another issue that is ... odd that I don't know if anyone's considered. The vying for exclusivity on this title implies that they (Google/Apple) think that this game is so awesome that it will cause people to abandon a competitors phone for their own instead of waiting for the exclusivity to run out. Are the marketing guys just making this stuff up as they go along?

      • >But there's another issue that is ... odd that I don't know if anyone's considered. The vying for exclusivity on this title implies that they (Google/Apple) think that this game is so awesome that it will cause people to abandon a competitors phone for their own instead of waiting for the exclusivity to run out.

        Well at least Apple think that. Not so much Google or they might have vyed harder.

        >Are the marketing guys just making this stuff up as they go along?

        Yes.

    • I'd say "it sucked" goes for almost all mobile games. Most non-mobile games aren't great, but the amount of shovelware seems much lower on consoles and PC.

      When is "mobile game" going to mean more than shitty controls and everything else? The best games at best seem to be "good" only when judged by the standard of "compared to what else I could be doing on a plane."

      Even with handheld game systems with decent controls, like the DS, there were few games that I'd choose to play if I could be playing
      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        So, only games you like are good games? Some people actually do like games like Sudoku and so on. Puzzles, that do not require any specific controls.

        • by rk (6314)

          Nothing wrong with Sudoku, but the EA version would say "Want to place a 9 here? Wait 20 minutes, or buy the 10 pack of 9s for $1.99!"

    • Honestly, give it a try now. It still has micropayments, but you can entirely ignore them.

      They patched it and changed the game massively, removing the 'collect keys to open gates to progress', simplifying the map, and adding the Zen Garden in.

      I still prefer the first one, but with the latest patches 2 is pretty good.

      And I really like the Laser Beans.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If the point of exclusivity is to drive sales of your hardware or overall service... I don't want to meet the person who buys an iPhone so they can play Plants vs Zombies 2 months sooner than everyone else...

    • by mlts (1038732)

      Exclusivity works very well on consoles. Like HALO, for example. You won't be finding it anytime soon on the PS4.

      So, having it tried on smartphones makes sense. If one side or the other does land a lot more exclusive games than the other, it can be something that can force the hand of a consumer, because their buds are playing the game, but they can't unless they upgrade phones.

      The stakes are high for the long term.

      • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gweilo8888 (921799) on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:56AM (#46806277)
        It only works well when the hardware is perceived to be equal. I've never owned a Playstation, have bought Xbox from the start and own almost every game in the Halo franchise. It's far and away my favorite non-racing game, but at the same time, it's not enough to skew me towards the XBone over the PS4.

        I still remember how Microsoft screwed the pooch on the XBone's launch, how clearly they deride the gamers who keep them in business, and I can also see how their hardware is nowhere near the caliber of that in the PS4. So for the first time, when I upgrade it will be to a Playstation and not an Xbox.

        And that shows rather nicely that exclusivity doesn't work if your hardware or overall offering is considered inferior by your potential customers.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's at worst 10% behind PS4. I hope you haven't been taken in by the lies about Xbox One not being able to do 1080p/60fps. A few poorly executed launch games don't reflect the limits of a console. Hell, the Wii U can do 1080p/60fps.

          • It would be one thing if it was just fanboys' asserting that the PS4 is outperforming the Xbox One. Game developers have confirmed it as well. Developers are still trying to optimize their games for both platforms; but it seems that GDDR5 is beating DDR3 + ESRAM for now. Also Sony for the most part has kept focus on the objective of the PS4 being a gaming console. MS has tried to make the Xbox One as an entertainment console instead.
      • That may be true of permanent exclusivity like the franchises on consoles, as mentioned by the Coward above, I seriously doubt anyone will be thinking "I just can't wait 2 more months to play PvZ2." Although, even if the exclusivity is short-lived, it may serve to give the impression that one platform is being favored by developers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It wasn't that long ago that the general app-developer mode of operation was "release for iOS, Android maybe later sometime". If Apple are now paying companies to effectively delay the Android release of their app, perhaps this shows that the mood in the developer community (or Apple's perception thereof) is shifting - in a direction not favourable to the image of Apple's ecosystem as "the" app store.

  • by bananaquackmoo (1204116) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:13PM (#46806437)
    I hate to break it to you, but this isn't news. This kind of behavior has existed in the games industry and app-store industry pretty much since they've existed.
  • by jemmyw (624065)

    Ok I sort of understand why, but mobile phones are such a different type of purchase than games consoles. If I was looking for a console I might inspect the available games, and I wouldn't care what it looked like in my living room, or how it performed (assuming that it runs the games I want).

    But mobile phones - if you're looking at top end phones I highly doubt anyone thinks that deeply about the available games these days (now that Android is nearly equivalent for apps). They'll be looking at specs, look

    • by tepples (727027)
      I think it's to get people to buy an iPod touch or iPad mini in addition to whatever Android phone they were planning on buying.
      • by jemmyw (624065)

        Granted that might be the strategy, but it'll surely fail if both are doing it... nobody (I'm probably wrong) would base the purchase of an iPad on the basis of a specific casual game.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Granted that might be the strategy, but it'll surely fail if both are doing it... nobody (I'm probably wrong) would base the purchase of an iPad on the basis of a specific casual game.

          Agree. I've seen pilots buy an extra iPad just to run some iOS-only application, but you're talking about an app that costs $150/yr to use, on a plane that costs $100/hr to run, that replaces a $5000 piece of dedicated hardware. So, if your alternative is to spend $5k on a hobby you already spend tons on, then buying a tablet you won't use for anything else isn't a big deal.

          On the other hand, for the average person who is already integrated into the Apple or Google environment with iTunes, Google Music Al

          • by the_B0fh (208483)

            What app is that?

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Well, the one that always comes up is ForeFlight. It is in the App Store but not available on Android.

              Then there is Garmin Pilot - which is on both, but the iOS app is always about a year or two ahead in terms of features (the Android one just got a big update which brings it up to where the iOS version was in 2012 I think).

              Until that update the Garmin app on Android was actually inferior in most aspects to the FOSS Avare, which has about two volunteer devs. Discussion forums had users openly talking abou

  • It ain't no battle till one of them introduce a fifteen inch hole golf. Let us see who does it first.

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