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Posts tagged with "games"

Game On: A Decade of iOS Gaming

Nowhere has the App Store’s impact been more profound than the game industry. Roughly one-third of the 500 initial apps that debuted on the App Store were games. The percentage of games on the App Store has risen over the past 10 years, but not by much. By some estimates, between 35 and 40 percent of the App Store's apps are games today. What has changed is the size of the Store. With over 2.1 million apps currently available for download, that means around 800,000 are games.

Mobile gaming has become the primary driver of growth in the game industry over the past several years. According to a recent report by Newzoo, the mobile game industry, in which iOS plays a central role, will be a $100 billion market in just three years time.

The success of games on iOS parallels the phenomenal success of the iPhone and App Store. The iPhone’s hardware played a significant role with its novel design that provided game developers with the flexibility to experiment. Just as important, though, was the advent of In-App Purchases. Games, like other apps, were originally free or paid. When In-App Purchases came along, a whole category of games that offered in-app, paid consumables, level packs, and other digital goods was born that has been wildly successful for many game developers.

Now, free-to-play games with In-App Purchases dominate the top grossing charts and a relatively small cadre of games soak up the majority of money spent on the App Store, making it harder than ever to succeed as a game developer on the App Store. It’s a familiar story faced by app and game developer alike. Notwithstanding the stiff competition in the games category though, the mobile game market’s sheer size has allowed creative, independent game developers to find ways to succeed on the App Store.

Perhaps most exciting of all though, the success of mobile games has led to an enormous influx of people into gaming who would never have considered themselves gamers. That creates a tremendous opportunity for Apple and game developers which has become all the more interesting as the constraints of early iOS devices have been replaced by hardware that approaches the capability of game consoles. Mobile games stand at a pivotal moment in time that has the potential to upend preconceptions about the distinction between mobile and other video games, but to understand what the future might hold, it’s instructive to start by looking at the past 10 years.

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The Decade-Long Road to Trism 2

Variety has an in-depth profile of Steve Demeter, the former Wells Fargo software developer who created Trism, one of the App Store’s earliest hit games.

Demeter became the face of the App Store gold rush for many people. His game, Trism, was one of the 500 apps that debuted on the App Store 10 years ago next Tuesday. The game, which incorporated the iPhone’s accelerometer, earned $250,000 in its first two months. With 3 million lifetime downloads, many at $4.99 each, Demeter quit his job as a developer at Wells Fargo to work on a sequel, eventually pouring all of the original game’s earnings into the effort:

Lost in the shadow of his initial success and worrying about a sophomore slump, the development of “Trism 2” became a nightmare cycle of starting and restarting, creating and destroying.

Eventually, Trism’s earnings dried up and Demeter got a job at Storm8 and later, FoxNext Games. Now, 10 years after Trism’s release, Demeter is releasing its sequel, Trism 2 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the App Store with the help of FoxNext.

After all these years, it’s great to see Trism 2 launch, and the tenth anniversary of the App Store feels like the perfect time given it’s unique spot in App Store history. We’ve got special coverage of the App Store’s 10th anniversary coming from the entire MacStories team next week, so be sure to check back then.

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Pokémon Quest Arrives a Day Early on iOS

Initially slated for release on June 28th, Pokémon Quest has arrived on iOS a day early. The game, which debuted on the Nintendo Switch, is free-to-play with In-App Purchases. The Pokémon and their entire environment adopt a unique, blocky style in Quest. You start with just one Pokémon collecting more and evolving them as you progress through the game’s levels set on Tumblecube Island. In all, the game features the first 151 Pokémon from the series’ Kanto region.

Attacks are automated, but special attacks are available, though timer-limited. To speed up the timers, which are tied to other elements of the game too, players can purchase tokens using In-App Purchases. The game is playable without tokens but slow going.

I haven’t spent much time with Pokémon Quest yet, but my first impression is that it makes a solid companion to the Switch version of the game. After years of pundits calling for Nintendo to abandon hardware and become a mobile-first app company, it’s satisfying to see Nintendo make a comeback with the Switch and for it and The Pokémon Company use iOS to supplement game experiences on Nintendo's console where the experiences are complementary.


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.