Much has changed in the two years since we called Apple “the hottest property in handheld gaming” and said that the company had “changed the videogame industry irrevocably”. Between E236 and today, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has passed away, iPhone 5 has launched and bifurcated, Game Center’s poker-table felt has been torn off in favour of a spartan interface, and a wave of licensed iOS controllers has reached the market, drawing iPhones and iPads closer to the traditional world of videogame hardware. In other respects, though, nothing is different – Apple seems no closer to infiltrating the home console business through its set-top box, for example.
But crucially – at least for the people who have seen iOS platforms become integral parts of their gaming lives – it feels like the potential we saw in Apple’s devices to become a disruptive force has dissipated. Where we once saw a promising new marketplace of fresh ideas, unrestricted creativity, and daring new ways to play, the App Store of 2014 is swamped with cash-guzzling junk, shameless knockoffs and predictable sequels. Games worth discovering still exist, but they mostly dwell on the fringes and in the shadows, while endless horror stories suggest that paid-for games are simply no longer profitable and are dying out. What happened to the iOS gaming revolution?
Great story by Edge on the state of iOS gaming, free-to-play, App Store charts, and indie development in the age of freemium and Clash of Clans.
Time will tell whether the App Store can still accommodate developers who arguably make better games than the stuff that's in the top charts or that Apple features. There's hope, and I want to believe that somebody at Apple is reading Edge's piece and wondering how they can make the App Store a better place for game creators who are not King or Supercell. Reducing the visibility of the Top Grossing chart and allowing games that cover political/religious/controversial themes would be a good start and an encouraging signal.