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Rumor: Apple planning premium game section of App Store

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Apple may be planning to introduce a new section of the App Store dedicated to top-notch gaming titles in an effort to further solidify its multi-touch devices as the next big thing in handheld gaming.

Citing unidentified sources, PocketGamer.biz says the new listing will cater to titles in the $20 range that meet a new set of stringent requirements for quality and value set forth by the iPhone maker.

Oddly, however, the report claims that the initiative will be open only to a restricted number of commercial game publishers, shutting out the thousands of smaller developers responsible for helping the App Store thrive from the onset.

Much of the App Store's success has been attributed not only to the advanced tools that simplify application development but also its open marketplace, which levels the playing field between the established publishers and upstarts.

In an interview published this week, Apple vice president of iPhone and iPod product marketing Greg Joswiak spoke directly to this end, noting that the one of the benefits of the App Store is the low overheard required to become an influential player in the market.

App developers don't need a publisher, he said, "It's not somewhere you have to be represented by somebody; you have to be in the development programme, which is very inexpensive."

Similar comments from the Apple executive also challenge the notion that premium pricing and a focus on incumbent game publishers would serve as a beneficial shift in strategy.

Asked if smaller developers are really competing with the established players, Joswiak said: "What we'd like to do is show off the games - the 3D and the casual ones. Everyone from the big developers is excited -- the EAs, the Gamelofts, Hudsons and Segas -- but what's also cool is the small guys.

"You get the one or two-developer shops like the Pangeas, who are doing a great business, with anecdotal stories like paying off their home mortgages after a month or two of being in the store," he said.

In terms of pricing, Joswiak believes the "sweet spot" for gaming titles falls in the $7 to $14 dollar range, rather than those that would fetch upwards of $20. "What we typically see is people buying more titles, because it's a lot easier -- it's a much smaller investment, and it's a much smaller decision to try a new title that only costs you 5 pounds," he said.

Joswiak also defended the existing but somewhat controversial methods by which games and applications rise to prime placement on the App Store, pointing specifically to the shop's reviews component "because if a small guy makes a title that gets good ratings, it tends to bubble up: the cream does rise."

That said, the Apple VP noted that the App Store already offers more than 1,500 games, which is more than all the company's handheld gaming rivals combined, namely the PSP and Nintendo DS. As such, a specific section of the shop dedicated to premium titles could be in order for the sake of visibility and boosting the platform to the next level.

However, the notion that smaller developers would be locked out of such an initiative would appear to clash with the ideals by which the store has operated to date.
post #2 of 24
This should be cool, I hope they have a good selection of games, Id buy a few


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iPhone, iPod
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iPhone, iPod
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post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by robb01 View Post

This should be cool, I hope they have a good selection of games, Id buy a few


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I am thinking that they are just adding a section to the store, highlighting games that are already available in the store. So good news, you don't have to wait!
post #4 of 24
I can understand why they are doing this, but I'm slightly concerned at the way this may be headed.
post #5 of 24
Expect only the $20 apps to be featured in the next "funnest ever" commercial.
post #6 of 24
Bastards. I wanted to start this rumor. Now I'll have to think of something else.

Ok ok, new rumor: the premium games app store will have games exclusively for the new, faster ARM Cortex A8 iphone that will come out this summer. It will be a clean break. And they'll get blizzard to make a diablo game for it.
post #7 of 24
I want the new iMac!!!
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by labrats5 View Post

Bastards. I wanted to start this rumor. Now I'll have to think of something else.

Ok ok, new rumor: the premium games app store will have games exclusively for the new, faster ARM Cortex A8 iphone that will come out this summer. It will be a clean break. And they'll get blizzard to make a diablo game for it.

Blizzard's stuff will probably only run on next year's 3GHz G5 iPhones.
post #9 of 24
Please Rainbow Six on the iPhone....

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

Reply

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

Reply
post #10 of 24
This may sound ridiculous, but I would pay $20 for old school Nintendo games. I recently downloaded Duck Hunt on the iPhone and was teleported backwards 20 years. I can't even image how sweet Zelda would be.
post #11 of 24
Those would have to be some pretty swell games for twenty bucks considering some of the excellent game titles currently selling for $5-10. If there's to be a premium section at the iPhone App Store, why limit it to games? There are already some awesome iPhone apps available, but they tend not to get widespread attention because of the atmosphere of cheapness created by all the whiners who think they're getting ripped off it they pay ten bucks for a title, regardless of what it offers.
post #12 of 24
This "cream rising to the top" thing is highly suspect. If I had a dollar for every fishy-sounding five-star review I've read at the App Store, I'd be heading for the bank with a truckload of cash. So many reviews sound exactly alike that one can't help concluding that a certain amount of subterfuge is going on... possibly a huge amount.
post #13 of 24
It's likely they'll start ordering games in terms of price points a la the Walmart model... "Good, Better, Best". Of course, just because a game is more expensive, doesn't mean it's better.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #14 of 24
I suspect that this section will be for games that meet a higher set of standards in Apple's QA gauntlet- Only those games that Apple deems "premium" will be there, and will probably be priced $5 or $10 more expensive. I expect that this is a move by Apple to separate the good stuff and the crap.
post #15 of 24
I like this move as there is simply no way that a small time developer can rival what a big games company can do. However, what happens when big games companies like Konami or Square Enix put out crap like they already have done? Will Apple take an offering from a major publisher and drop it in the bargain bucket beside the small-time developers?

I would love to see that happen but I don't think they'll do it.

This is a step that is needed though because you just don't see PSP stores with homebrew software sitting next to major AAA games titles and there's a reason. The apps need to be better quality and fair enough, a small developer might well make a game that is more fun than a bigger title but the expectations are still much lower.

I really hope this means we get some games like you get for the PSP or DS such as Tomb Raider Underworld, Burnout, The Force Unleashed (done properly). The section may be coming for titles like Need For Speed: Undercover, which sells for the PSP for £17.99.

The sub-$20 (£15) range is a good call for iphone titles of this level of development. I would like to see mandatory demos made for games at this price though.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I like this move as there is simply no way that a small time developer can rival what a big games company can do. However, what happens when big games companies like Konami or Square Enix put out crap like they already have done? Will Apple take an offering from a major publisher and drop it in the bargain bucket beside the small-time developers?

I would love to see that happen but I don't think they'll do it.

This is a step that is needed though because you just don't see PSP stores with homebrew software sitting next to major AAA games titles and there's a reason. The apps need to be better quality and fair enough, a small developer might well make a game that is more fun than a bigger title but the expectations are still much lower.

I really hope this means we get some games like you get for the PSP or DS such as Tomb Raider Underworld, Burnout, The Force Unleashed (done properly). The section may be coming for titles like Need For Speed: Undercover, which sells for the PSP for £17.99.

The sub-$20 (£15) range is a good call for iphone titles of this level of development. I would like to see mandatory demos made for games at this price though.

I've played a # of games on my iPod Touch. Some of them have been free, others have cost me a few dollars. < $10 seems an excellent price point for what the iPod Touch/iPhone are capable of - graphics, speed, sound, screen size, current control limitations, etc.

However, for $19.99, I can't help but wonder if Apple's mobile gaming platforms can even live up to the promise a $20 game might offer. In other words, if I'm going to pay $20 for a game, I really want it to be a $20 game - robust controls, excellent graphics & sound & the like...I don't see my current iPod Touch delivering $20 worth of gaming experience: a) small screen b) controls (to me) are still janky in many games - especially those relying on motion sensors. Further, w/o dedicated gaming buttons - screen real estate is taken up by control-oriented touch(es).

Hmmmmm.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_23 View Post

I've played a # of games on my iPod Touch. Some of them have been free, others have cost me a few dollars. < $10 seems an excellent price point for what the iPod Touch/iPhone are capable of - graphics, speed, sound, screen size, current control limitations, etc.

However, for $19.99, I can't help but wonder if Apple's mobile gaming platforms can even live up to the promise a $20 game might offer. In other words, if I'm going to pay $20 for a game, I really want it to be a $20 game - robust controls, excellent graphics & sound & the like...I don't see my current iPod Touch delivering $20 worth of gaming experience: a) small screen b) controls (to me) are still janky in many games - especially those relying on motion sensors. Further, w/o dedicated gaming buttons - screen real estate is taken up by control-oriented touch(es).

Hmmmmm.

I think the timing of the $20 dollar game section's debut would coincide with the debut of a brand new generation of Apple mobiles that can do much more than the previous generation. Perhaps the new ones will even have extra controls for FPS games and such. It would explain why most of the small devs are being kept out.....for now.
post #18 of 24
I'm not a big gamer, but it would be interesting to see a hardware accessory that provides a thumpad/buttons for better game controls. Also, as good as the iPhone is, the hardware is nothing compared to the newer generations... An updated iPhone with the OMAP3 chip in the Palm "Pre" (or similar) would be capable of incredible graphics..
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_23 View Post

< $10 seems an excellent price point for what the iPod Touch/iPhone are capable of - graphics, speed, sound, screen size, current control limitations, etc.

However, for $19.99, I can't help but wonder if Apple's mobile gaming platforms can even live up to the promise a $20 game might offer.

Nintendo DS games are that price and more and the screen is far smaller as well as about 3-5 times lower capability than the iphone.

It does have physical buttons but very few and although some overlay controls do get in the way on the iphone, quite a few games manage to get round this very well. For example, the Brothers in Arms game had very good control overlays. The controls weren't very accurate at times but the touch interface works great for fast weapon selection.

The graphics in that were really pretty good, same with Hero of Sparta. Those games weren't quite PSP quality but pretty close IMO. Though the frame rate could do with being improved. As developers improve their game engines on the iphone and hopefully Apple get round to optimizing the 2.x system, I think we'll see games rivaling the PSP.

If the games have more depth and playing time, improved framerate and the same or better quality graphics as BIA and Hero of Sparta, they will be worth paying a slight premium for.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

I can understand why they are doing this, but I'm slightly concerned at the way this may be headed.

I agree. I think companies like EA are a bit concerned about being in the same market as lesser known developers. There's no competition like no competition.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Nintendo DS games are that price and more and the screen is far smaller as well as about 3-5 times lower capability than the iphone.

It does have physical buttons but very few and although some overlay controls do get in the way on the iphone, quite a few games manage to get round this very well. For example, the Brothers in Arms game had very good control overlays. The controls weren't very accurate at times but the touch interface works great for fast weapon selection.

The graphics in that were really pretty good, same with Hero of Sparta. Those games weren't quite PSP quality but pretty close IMO. Though the frame rate could do with being improved. As developers improve their game engines on the iphone and hopefully Apple get round to optimizing the 2.x system, I think we'll see games rivaling the PSP.

If the games have more depth and playing time, improved framerate and the same or better quality graphics as BIA and Hero of Sparta, they will be worth paying a slight premium for.

I have to admit I haven't really, really taken a close look at the Nintendo & Sony offerings in the realm of portable of gaming. I certainly know of them...but not enough to know that Apple (in mobile gaming) edges them both out. Frankly, I'm surprised at that...as the 2 platforms are dedicated to gaming...and <should> be superior to the iPhone/iPod Touch at this stage in their development.

If that's the case, & we're only awaiting optimized game engines for real performance boosts...then - go Apple! I feel Apple can "steal" the market with their iTunes/App store - so easy to browse & purchase games....Nothing quite like it, really.

Now - if only something like the Marware Game Grip could be developed...which has buttons and possibly even a little joystick for added control.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_23 View Post

I certainly know of them...but not enough to know that Apple (in mobile gaming) edges them both out. Frankly, I'm surprised at that...as the 2 platforms are dedicated to gaming...and <should> be superior to the iPhone/iPod Touch at this stage in their development.

The PSP is faster graphics-wise - I think the iphone is half the speed but the PSP only has 32MB Ram vs the iphone's 128MB. With optimization, it could get pretty close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_23 View Post

If that's the case, & we're only awaiting optimized game engines for real performance boosts...then - go Apple! I feel Apple can "steal" the market with their iTunes/App store - so easy to browse & purchase games....Nothing quite like it, really.

Online distribution for games works pretty well as it means globally you get access to the same apps. Some games stores only offer a limited selection. One downside to this model is the same as the issue with VOD vs Blu-Ray.

PSP games are still 700MB-1.5GB. Most iphone apps are below 100MB. Sony have an online store for their older PSone games that run on the PSP and those weigh in around 300-400MB. I think if developers can target that size of app and quality, the games will be worthwhile.
post #23 of 24
Hi everyone, I'm a bit late on the chat, it's not like I was going
any more relevant than anyone else but here is what I think.

I think it's safe to say that people are slightly narrow minded when
it comes to defining these portable device. Being a "fanboy" or a
"fangirl" is quite a comftarble status unlike simply being rational
about the situation.

First, the iPod Touch and the iPhone are multimedia platform. Often,
the music player is acknowledge has it's unique feature. The iPod
Touch and iPhone is actually a pretty powerful device (memory, speed
& rendering) that can actually browse the web, run diverse types of
application and support a large array of media files.

These device are now pushing toward their gaming aspect. The Touch
Gen are unconventional for gaming, they are somewhat less technical
and more intuitive (this is the same reason some may never like the
Wii). Because of their nature, a lot of the game released for Apple
devices are crap and of homebrew quality. It was the same for the DS
when it came out, but Nintendo had more experience in blocking trash
from their platform.

It's safe to say that the Apple Premium Games will push the gaming
aspect of the Touch Gen even beyond their MVP app's. They have to.
Why? Well this brings me to my second point.

The DS and PSP which are what people call "gaming dedicated devices"
actually have a lot of multimedia potential. Sony and Nintendo are
slowly but convincingly pushing toward multi-functions devices with
new firmware, hardware and services just like Apple. Everyone is
adventuring in to everyones territory. Thats how capitalism works :P
Apple, Sony and Nintendo actions are not really surprising.

I'll watch how things work out for these guys. Fanslaves, choose your
camp; technical=PSP, hybrid=DS, intuitive=iPod. Has for me, I'm
pretty much versatile.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by philosonic View Post

HI'll watch how things work out for these guys. Fanslaves, choose your
camp; technical=PSP, hybrid=DS, intuitive=iPod. Has for me, I'm
pretty much versatile.

I don't think the labels are accurate.

I agree the PSP is technically the best gaming quality and it's also a very capable movie player. Not so intuitive for music though. The web browsing ability is also terrible and doesn't run PDA-like apps.

The DS is the worst media player and not good for audio or video. The gaming quality is poor but would allow PDA-like apps and certain types of game. If the term hybrid was to be used it would signify a hybrid of the worst of all worlds IMO.

The iphone/ipod touch is a great media player for movies and audio and also for the PDA-like experience. The iphone is also a phone, which the others aren't. On gaming, I think it's an emerging platform that could eventually have games to rival the PSP but it will take a long time before developers give it the attention at the level Sony gets. It is intuitive but not any more so than the others in their respective fields.

I would say to summarize that hardcore gamers would get a PSP.
Casual gamers who prefer light-hearted games, generally girls, kids, old people would prefer a DS.
People who don't particularly care about games but want a decent media-capable mobile device and would play good ones if they were available would opt for the iphone/ipod touch.

For gaming -> PSP = hardcore, DS = casual, ipod/iphone = occasional

I'm personally in the latter group having previously been in the PSP one. If the PSP came out with any decent games, I might have kept it but no such luck and I don't really play games much at all. I have bought a couple of games for my iphone but mostly the selection is terrible. I was happy to see games like Silent Hill and Star Wars the Force Unleashed but they don't really deserve links to those franchises.

I think the iphone/ipod has the ability to displace both of those consoles but at the same time, I don't think it will for political reasons rather than technical. Games developers have ties with the likes of Nintendo and Sony going back over a decade and they have commitments to their whole eco-system so that things happen like the 360 gets an exclusive GTA 4 expansion game.

Now that the console makers are struggling, those ties may be severed as they have to some extent already with Sony's failures but it will be in the long term. It'll be interesting to see what selection hits the premium store section. I have little doubt that NFS Undercover will be among them.
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