How Apple and Google's exclusivity deals on games like PvZ 2 work
The prime placement on the app stores' front pages often stem from exclusivity arrangements.
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Platform holders like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo competing for third-party exclusives by offering various types of bonuses to developers is nothing new in the video game industry. But where this practice is becoming increasingly common that it had not previously existed is in the mobile space as both Google and Apple work to secure exclusive games for their respective operating system's marketplace, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Gamers who frequent the app stores on iOS or Android are likely to have noticed the front-page promotion received by major game releases. It's often this kind of publicity--not money--that is offered to mobile game developers in exchange for keeping their games off of the competing platform for a period of time, as was reportedly the case with Plants vs. Zombies 2.
The long-awaited sequel to PopCap's hit tower defense game launched last August exclusively on iOS. It didn't make it to Android until October as a direct result of an arrangement between publisher Electronic Arts and Apple that guaranteed the game prime promotion on the iOS App Store, according to sources. A similar deal was struck with ZeptoLab for Cut the Rope 2, which was released on iOS in December but only made it to Android last month.
Last year, there were allegations that Apple had paid EA to delay the Android version of Plants vs. Zombies 2 following a public statement by EA Labels president Frank Gibeau. Apple denied this was the case, and the Wall Street Journal report notes that Apple doesn't outright pay developers for exclusives.
Mobile games are big business: The infamous Flappy Bird was generating $50,000 per day in ad revenue at one point, while Clash of Clans reportedly sees upward of $650,000 per day in revenue, and The Simpsons: Tapped Out had surpassed $100 million in lifetime revenue as of last September. The mobile games market as a whole had revenue of $13.2 billion in 2013, a figure expected to balloon to $22 billion next year.
With so many games flooding the marketplaces on both iOS and Android, the exposure offered by these arrangements can be games' only chance at grabbing the public's attention. As a result, we can begin to see why developers might opt to work out an exclusivity deal with Apple or Google.
Do these kinds of arrangements have any negative effect on the games you're interested in playing, or can you sympathize with developers trying to compete in such a crowded space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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