Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The iOS Gaming Business


This year we spent a lot of time updating our old mobile games, to make them run properly on new OS versions, new resolutions, and whatever new things that were introduced which broke our games on iPhones and iPads around the world. We’ve put months of work into this, because, well, we care that our games live on, and we want you to be able to keep playing your games. Had we known back in 2010 that we would be updating our games seven years later, we would have shook our heads in disbelief.

This year, a lot of time we had planned to spend on our current project, ended up being spent on just making sure that our games would not be gone from the app store. Because sadly, the platform holder seems to have no interest in preservation of software on their platform. We can criticize and be angry and mad about it all we want, but we don’t think that any efforts we put in can change that direction.


The ease of mobile game development drew us to making iPhone games back in 2010. But, it’s getting increasingly financially unviable, tiring and unenjoyable for us to keep on making substantial alterations for new resolutions, guidelines, and what have you, as they seem to never end. The appeal of the mobile platform is less evident today than it was a few years back. Before we started Simogo, we had made console games, and had grown really tired of the clunky processes, politics, certifications and primitive development environments that was involved in making a console game. Today, a lot of that clunkiness is gone, and sadly, for a small developer like us, mobile has become more difficult to support than consoles. Releasing a mobile game means supporting it perpetually, and justifying that is tough for us, at the moment.

Via Craig Grannell:

Apple should treat this as a body blow. Simogo has consistently been one of the best developers on the platform, pushing the boundaries of gaming in new and interesting directions. Device 6, in particular, remains a masterclass in touchscreen game development – a strange puzzle/adventure hybrid, where you explore corridors composed of the very words in the game’s narrative. Sure, it could be made for a traditional console or PC – but it’d make far less sense.


I’ve heard similar from other developers. It’s such a shift from when I visited an EA developer press event around 2012, when indies they’d got on board were brimming with excitement about iOS gaming. Then, it was a breath of fresh air – less hassle with platform issues and gatekeepers alike. But iOS has become a moving target in a way it never used to be.

Matt Birchler:

7 of the top 10 selling games on Amazon last year were Nintendo exclusive games. That’s positively nuts!

Lukas Mathis:

Telling Nintendo to abandon its hardware platform for iOS was never a good idea. It doesn’t help Nintendo, and it doesn’t help iOS. There is no sustainable market on iOS for really good, non-abusive, fairly priced mid- to high-budget games, and Nintendo can’t fix that. The only company that can fix that is Apple.

Previously: Super Mario Run’s Disappointing Profit, Nintendo.

Update (2018-01-19): NintendoSoup:

In a NPD research, the Nintendo Switch is the best selling console in history when comparing the console’s first 10 month sales data with every other console’s first 10 month.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Gaming was never in Apple's DNA. They dont care about gaming, even John Carmack abandoned Apple gaming and stop speaking for them.

There isn't billion of revenue for App Store, most Apps dont make enough money. 80 to 90% of the revenue are coming from Gaming. And in that regards Apple is likely the largest gaming company on earth by revenue or Platform. ( Google doesn't have China in App Market )

Hence why Apple decide to sprinkle a few touch on Gaming in their Keynote. But they really dont give a crap about gaming.

>Gaming was never in Apple's DNA. They dont care about gaming

It's more than that. One has to go back to the late 70s and early 80s to understand how Apple originally came to its position on gaming. Back then, there were a lot of competing computing platform. Many of them were mostly used for games. This was good for a platform in the short run, but bad in the long run. In the short run, it sold a lot of C64s and Amigas and ZX Spectrums. But in the long run, it also meant that people saw these devices as toys, which hurt their long-term viability. Companies didn't buy them, they were mostly sold to kids.

This caused a vicious cycle, where companies didn't invest money into creating non-gaming applications for these computers, so they couldn't really be used for anything other than gaming. This also meant that there was no reason to stay with a platform once a better platform came along; C64 owners didn't have a lot of stuff on their devices that they didn't mind losing. No Word files and Photoshop images, just some games. Switching to the Amiga, and then to the PC, was easy.

To avoid this problem, Apple actively discouraged game development on its computers. It didn't want the Apples and the Macs to be seen as toys. It wanted them to be seen as productivity and learning tools.

Clearly, this is no longer the case, but I think this culture of not really understanding gaming is still around.

It would have been neat if Nintendo had access to Apple's A-series chips for the Switch, instead of having to settle for the hot/power-hungry Tegra X1. Thankfully the Switch is doing well despite its underlying hardware, but I'd imagine battery life and performance could have been even better. There could be so many interesting niches/use-cases for Apple chips (S3-powered flip phone, A9-powered DIY board like a Raspberry Pi)... it's a shame Apple keeps the tech to themselves.

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