Exclusive games just the latest battleground for Apple, Google, and Amazon

Exclusive games just the latest battleground for Apple, Google, and Amazon

Are the best games on Android or are the best games on iPhone? That's a question that's becoming increasingly important to both Apple and Google, and they're reportedly willing to help developers get massive marketing pushes in exchange for periods of exclusivity for hot new games. This will come as a surprise to precisely no one familiar with the console market, or the basics of running any store, real-world or virtual. Mario, Sonic, Halo, and other exclusive franchises made the console wars of the past, and on mobile, and for iOS and Android, that's now translating into Plants vs. Zombies 2, Cut the Rope 2, and many others. Ian Sherr and Daisuke Wakabayashi, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

As Android's influence has grown, Apple's editorial team has been factoring in exclusivity to a greater degree after it deems an app to be attractive, according to people familiar with the process. The editorial team also will give greater consideration to titles recommended by its developer-relations staff, they said.

Android, both in the form of Google's Play Store and Amazon's appstore, are working promotional angles in their own way as well:

Google has struck deals to help promote apps that integrate Android branding. [...] Amazon.com Inc, too, has gotten into the act. The online retailer has sought exclusivity deals with game developers as a way to boost the appeal of its Kindle family of Android devices. Amazon is offering premium placement on its app store's home screen in exchanges for exclusivity, according to people familiar with the matter.

There's apparently no money changing hands, but the massive marketing boost preferred placement in Google, Apple, or Amazon can provide in terms of downloads and purchases is just as good. Apple once-upon-a-time made a game of their own, Texas Hold 'Em, but has long since removed it from sale. Google acquired and maintains Ingress, their own Android-exclusive game. None of them have gone to Mario, Sonic, or Halo levels yet when it comes to exclusive gaming, however. But is that just a matter of time?

How do you feel about platform exclusives? Do they influence your buying decision or just frustrate you if and when you have to wait?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Exclusive games just the latest battleground for Apple, Google, and Amazon


I can see the point, but dislike it. Similar to console exclusives or even carrier exclusives. I feel like having the game on multiple platforms can only help to increase exposure and also $$ earned from downloads and the like.

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You forgot to mention Infinity Blade as an iOS exclusive game. To me, that game is like the equivalent of a Mario or Sonic on iOS.

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For consoles, exclusives matter, but games on my mobile are nice-to-haves, not purchasing drivers, for me;

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They're not purchasing drivers UNTIL a game franchise is created that then BECOMES the purchasing driver. Consoles didn't always have exclusives at the beginning but it became a thing as the market matured and it's easy to see the same thing happening in mobile, especially if these mobile media extenders / set top boxes take off like Fire and Apple TV.

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Btw, it would be VERY smart of Apple if they just out-right purchased CHAIR Entertainment as their "in-house" game studio. Not only would it bring a really popular franchise to iOS for the fore-seeable future but it would help incentivize game studios to up there game by providing an example of how to create a high quality game with their hardware, just like they already do with their professional software of Logic, Final Cut, and Aperture.

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Apple doesn't need to make games. Though they do make a excellent developer platform. They should buy unreal or develop their own game engine in-house. This to me would be a more interesting move. Allow game developers free access to a engine that works on iPhone, iPad and OSX. Shrink their development time.

They did this for 2D games already. And Apple would not make games, Nintendo, a wholly owned subsidiary would make games. : )

I have no problems with exclusive because it's understandable even though it's something I wish didn't exist but what's annoying is when some people use this the reason that Android lacks developers or developers are still more ios heavy when in reality even though some platform bias exist in favor of ios it's not anywhere bad as it was a few years ago and nowadays most delay in games isn't because a developer didn't want to develop or hasn't developed for android but rather apple got them one way or another through promotions and priorities to hold off on releasing for android like pvz 2,cut the rope etc the reason wasn't because they didn't make one for android or Ignored it, they had the game ready to go but held of because of other influences. This goes vice versa for all companies as they all offer exclusive offers. Let's just hope it doesn't come down to something like Google or apple or Amazon actually paying say ea to make pvz3 for only ios or only play store. The day that happens, mobile gamings just going to get worse not that freemium model hasn't ruined it already.
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Still waiting for the day Nintendo releases their first party games (Pokemon, Zelda, Mario, etc.) to the various App Stores. I'd be perfectly willing to pay a few dollars per game and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one.

You're definitely not alone. I've bought several Final Fantasy ports, and they're definitely the most expensive apps I've bought in the Play Store. I'd absolutely buy some old Nintendo games.

Would you be willing to pay 40 which is what they sell for now

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This. Part of the reason I switched from iOS to Android is because loading an emulator on a iOS device was (and still is from my understanding) a very painful process.

If you're lucky enough to grab one of those emulators that sneaks into the app store then that's the easiest method. Otherwise you have to sideload an emulator by changing the date to download it. Not too difficult, but still more work than just downloading an emulator from the app store like Google and Microsoft allow.

$40 is around for a new game, but I suspect that people are looking for the classic games from NES to N64 & GameBoy to GameBoy Advance at this point (*these would be less*)
I am waiting for Nintendo to re-release on Wii U Virtual Console: Ocarina of Time(Even with modified Soundtrack).
I have seen games that are basically only available for the Nook Colour and its variants.

That was my implication here. Not many people are going out an buying Gameboy games today. But release them in the App Store for a bit of money and they'd be getting money on stuff that otherwise isn't making much.

Exclusive games have been a thorn in the side of console gamers for decades. This is an entirely negative move which only hurts consumers.