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Posts tagged with "games"

The Numbers Behind Monument Valley 2’s First Year

Once an app has spent a while on the App Store, it's difficult from a user perspective to know just how well or poorly the app has done. It's unusual for developers to share detailed financial figures, though it does happen every now and then. One team that's led the charge in this area is ustwo, creators of the Monument Valley series of games. For the first Monument Valley, ustwo shared comprehensive statistics for the game's performance in its first and second years. Today, year one of Monument Valley 2 has received the same open treatment. Head of studio at ustwo games, Dan Gray, writes:

I’ve heard this kind of data has really helped some developers get a handle on what they might expect from a successful premium launch, and given that it’s bloody hard making premium mobile games nowadays, if there’s anything we can do to help other teams to succeed then we’re going to do it. Admittedly Monument Valley is a bit of a unicorn in this space with regards to how well it’s performed over the years (succeeding on a level we could never have expected or predicted), but we hope this latest set of data might help others to set a yard stick for something towards the top end of profitability.

Monument Valley 2 had a unique launch that almost no other apps could hope for, debuting on-stage during last year's WWDC keynote. However, after the success of the first game, the sequel was certainly bound to get off to a great start no matter how it launched.

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Phil Schiller Explains Steam Link App Rejection

Valve announced on May 9th that it would release a video game streaming app called Steam Link. According to Valve, that announcement was made after the app was approved by Apple’s App Review team. As we reported Friday, Valve says that App Review reversed its decision the next day, rejecting the app for what Valve describe as ‘business conflicts with app guidelines.’

Steam Link is an app designed to allow users to stream Steam games from a Mac or PC to an iOS device or Apple TV over fast WiFi or Ethernet. Valve appealed the rejection on the basis that it was similar to other LAN-based remote desktop apps available on the App Store, but the appeal was denied. That led some people to question whether Apple’s rejection was motivated by a desire to protect gaming on iOS devices and the Apple TV.

We now have a better idea of the reasons behind the Steam Link rejection thanks to an email message from Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, to a MacStories reader, the authenticity of which we have verified.

The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote to Schiller asking that Apple reconsider the rejection. In response Schiller said:

We care deeply about bringing great games to all of our users on the App Store. We would love for Valve’s games and services to be on iOS and AppleTV.

Unfortunately, the review team found that Valve’s Steam iOS app, as currently submitted, violates a number of guidelines around user generated content, in-app purchases, content codes, etc. We’ve discussed these issues with Valve and will continue to work with them to help bring the Steam experience to iOS and AppleTV in a way that complies with the store’s guidelines.

Without having tried the app, it’s impossible to know precisely what aspect of the App Review Guidelines Apple concluded Steam Link violated, but Guideline 1.2, requires apps with user-generated content to have a way to filter objectionable content and remove offensive material, for example. In-App Purchases are another area with specific guidelines, many of which apply to games, in-game currencies, loot boxes, level unlocking, and more. Guideline 3.1.4 also forbids apps from using their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality.

Although it’s disappointing that Steam Link was rejected, it appears from Schiller’s message to our reader that there was more going on in the app than just streaming games from a PC or Mac. The guidelines that Schiller says were violated are not new, but with only the Steam Mobile app on the App Store, Valve probably hasn’t had to address user-generated content or game-specific guidelines in the past. Hopefully, the two companies can find a way to resolve the issues that satisfies the guidelines and allows Valve to provide its users with a way to enjoy their Steam games on iOS and tvOS.


Steam Link Rejected by App Review

A couple of weeks ago we reported that Valve was preparing to release an app called Steam Link that would allow gamers to stream Steam games to an Apple TV or iOS device over a fast WiFi or Ethernet network. The app was set to debut this week, but it was rejected by Apple’s App Review team. According to a press release from Valve, Steam Link was approved by App Review on May 7th and then rejected on May 10th, one day after Valve announced the app was coming to iOS and tvOS.

According to a tweeted statement by the Steam Database account:

Apple revoked its approval citing business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.

Valve’s statement also notes that other apps with similar functionality are currently available on the App Store. Valve appealed the rejection, which was denied.

Valve said it hopes Apple will reconsider in the future, but for now, it appears that Steam Link for iOS and tvOS is on indefinite hold.



Valve Announces Game and Video Streaming Apps for iOS and Android

Valve has announced that during the week of May 21st, it will release Steam Link, an iOS app that allows gamers to stream Steam games over wired Ethernet or 5GHz wireless networks to an Apple TV or iOS device. The app will support the Steam Controller and MFi controllers like the Steelseries Nimbus. Although the bandwidth necessary to stream games will preclude users from streaming on mobile networks, Steam Link provides greater flexibility to gamers who would otherwise be limited to playing on Macs and Windows PCs. The app will also be available on Android devices.

Valve also announced that it will release Steam Video on iOS later this summer. Valve sells TV shows and movies, but this is the company’s first mobile solution for viewing that content. Valve says users will be able to stream videos over WiFi and LTE networks or download them to iOS devices for viewing. Like Steam Link, Valve’s video app will be available on Android too, but a firm release date has not been announced yet.


Game Day: Trick Shot 2

Trick Shot 2 is a physics puzzle game from Jonathan Topf, the lead designer of Monument Valley 2. This isn’t a game that breaks new ground, but it’s one that is executed wonderfully on all levels and has some great extras, instantly endearing itself as a fun diversion.

The goal is simple: shoot a ball into a box. You launch the ball by sliding your finger back inside an outlined launch area and releasing. The action is similar to the slingshot mechanic used in Angry Birds. The trick is to get the perfect angle, velocity, and timing to land the ball in the box. The process is complicated by the fact that the ball is incredibly bouncy and there is often a maze of household and other objects between you and the ball’s destination.

Trick Shot 2 is one of those casual games that works extremely well on a mobile device. The game is easy to play in short spurts, and it can serve as a way to pass idle time, like a sort of digital fidget spinner. However, that sells Trick Shot short because it has more to offer than similar games.

First, Trick Shot looks and sounds fantastic. Everything from the beautifully rendered 3D obstacles and smooth animations to the jazzy soundtrack is top notch. The game is split across 9 chapters each of which are made up of multiple levels. As the chapters unfold, the game introduces new mechanics like switches and teleportation machines that keep the gameplay challenging. If you get stuck, you can spend coins to get a hint from a helpful robot. When you run out of the coins that come with the game, you can purchase more as an In-App Purchase, but they aren’t necessary to complete the game.

Second, and most critical, is that you can build your own levels. The level builder drops you into a blueprint-style view where you can place, move, and rotate all 48 game elements into your own Rube Goldberg creation. If starting with a blank slate is too intimidating, you can copy and adapt an existing level. It’s a wonderful addition that creates an extra dimension and sophistication to the game.

I imagine that almost anyone who’s played iOS games has tried physics-based games like Trick Shot 2, but not all such games are created equal. The trouble is finding the best examples of the genre. Trick Shot 2 qualifies hands down as one of my favorites and one I recommend to anyone looking for a new low-key iOS game to try.

Trick Shot 2 is available on the App Store.


iOS Plays a Big Role at the Game Developers Conference without Apple’s Direct Participation

Just before the annual Game Developers Conference began in San Francisco, Epic Games released its hit game Fortnite on iOS. In the first four days as an invitation-only game, it made over $1.5 million. As the conference got into full swing this week, PUBG was released. Both games are full versions of their PC and console counterparts and support cross-platform play, which is an impressive accomplishment.

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch interviewed Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak about the ramifications for mobile gaming:

“They’re bringing the current generation of console games to iOS,” Joswiak says, of launches like Fortnite and PUBG and notes that he believes we’re at a tipping point when it comes to mobile gaming, because mobile platforms like the iPhone and iOS offer completely unique combinations of hardware and software features that are iterated on quickly.

“Every year we are able to amp up the tech that we bring to developers,” he says, comparing it to the 4-5 year cycle in console gaming hardware. “Before the industry knew it, we were blowing people away [with the tech]. The full gameplay of these titles has woken a lot of people up.”

Ryan Cash of Snowman, part of the team that recently released Alto’s Odyssey agreed:

“We have a few die-hard Fortnite players on the team, and the mobile version has them extremely excited,” says Cash. “I think more than the completeness of these games (which is in of itself a technical feat worth celebrating!), things like Epic’s dedication to cross-platform play are massive. Creating these linked ecosystems where players who prefer gaming on their iPhones can enjoy huge cultural touchstone titles like Fortnite alongside console players is massive. That brings us one step closer to an industry attitude which focuses more on accessibility, and less on siloing off experiences and separating them into tiers of perceived quality.”

There’s a lot to like about iOS if you’re a game developer. The hardware is iterated on faster than consoles, a high percentage of users are on the latest version of the operating system, the device is always with players, and the install base is enormous. Those are all factors that have led iOS devices to succeed as gaming platforms, even though it sometimes feels as if Apple doesn’t quite understand the industry. The fact that Greg Joswiak comprehends the importance of full console games coming to iOS gives me a little hope that we may see better support for games on platforms like the Apple TV in the future.

For more from Ryan Cash about the state of gaming on iOS and a look behind the scenes at the making of Alto’s Odyssey, check out Episode 45 of AppStories.

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New Google Maps APIs Empowering Game Developers to Create Premium AR Experiences

Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

There’s been a wave of location-based mobile games announced recently, based on everything from The Walking Dead to Jurassic World. It turns out these games have more in common than just timing: they’re all powered by Google Maps. Today Google is announcing that it’s opening up its ubiquitous mapping platform to allow game developers to more easily create real-world games. The next Pokémon Go might finally be on the way.

Gaining access to a real-time mapping source like Google Maps is huge for developers, but the additional tools that go along with Google's newly announced game platform take that a step further. Google is also launching a Unity SDK to tie into its mapping data, and enabling gameplay experiences to be built around specific locations or location types.

Developers can do things like choose particular kinds of buildings or locations — say, all stores or restaurants — and transform each one. A fantasy realm could turn all hotels into restorative inns, for instance, or anything else.

This sounds like it could be a huge boon to the mobile game market, particularly when combined with tools like Apple's ARKit. Yes, it means we'll probably get tired of all the games trying to replicate Pokémon GO's success, but these new developer tools will also likely enable some truly immersive, exciting gaming experiences.

Google created a video that shows off just a glimpse of what's possible with its new Maps APIs.

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Game Day: Bring You Home

Earlier this month Alike Studio released Bring You Home, a charming puzzle game about a blue alien on a quest to save its pet from thieves. It’s a delightful game that showed up one day with little fanfare. The game, from the creators of Love You to Bits, was teased almost a year ago, but its sudden appearance on the App Store means it hasn’t gotten the coverage it deserves. That’s a shame because this is a low-key but captivating game that should appeal to a wide audience.

Exploration is at the core of Bring You Home. As soon as the alien’s pet is whisked away, it leaps out the window after the thieves landing face-first on the ground. Time rewinds, and you’re shown how to swipe panels up and down until there’s a cart of hay under the window to break the alien’s fall. It’s a simple mechanic similar to the hit game Framed but executed with a style and personality that fits Bring You Home.

The goal is just as simple. By manipulating the environment around the alien, you help steer it from scene to scene in pursuit of the thieves. As you move through Bring You Home, new layers are added to the gameplay. Instead of just cycling through panels vertically, you can swap their position horizontally too. Next, the game adds multi-step puzzles, which require you to rearrange the scene, pause, and make further adjustments. Along the way, there are also collectible photos featuring your alien and his pet, which is a nice touch suggesting that it’s ok to explore, fail, and explore some more.

There is an absurd logic to each of the nearly 50 levels of Bring You Home, which rewards thoughtful examination. There are no time limits or penalties for failure, which encourages a leisurely, calm approach. Sure, you can power through Bring You Home quickly, but that’s not the point. Trial and error is part of the fun. This is a game best-enjoyed at a pace at which you can absorb each scene’s brightly-colored, playful animations.

Bring You Home is a Universal app that’s also available on the Apple TV. The game looks great on a big screen TV, but the controls work better on an iOS device, so on balance, I prefer to play on my iPad. Also, achievements are tracked in Game Center, and your progress is synced between devices via iCloud, which I always appreciate.

Bring You Home is a relaxing game with a playful, sweet personality that will appeal to kids and adults alike. The puzzles range from easy to challenging without ever becoming frustrating, which makes it an excellent choice for relaxing on a quiet afternoon.

Bring You Home is available on the App Store.