Gaming is one of the top money-spinning app categories on smartphones and tablets and according to a WSJ report, both Apple and Google are trying to get popular games and their developers on their side. The companies promise “premium placement” (like featured spots on the home page) in their respective online stores and prominent ads around the app portal, in exchange for exclusivity, or at least a lead.
In regard to the Plants vs Zombies’ deal, the report says EA gave Apple agreed about two months of exclusivity.
Last August, for the launch of “Plants Vs. Zombies 2,” a highly anticipated sequel to a popular zombie-survival strategy game, publisher Electronic Arts Inc. struck a deal with Apple, which promoted the game prominently in its App Store, according to people familiar with the matter.
In exchange, one of these people said, EA agreed to give Apple about a two-month window of exclusivity for the title, which wasn’t released on Google’s Android software until October.
A similar deal saw the popular sequel to ZeptoLab’s puzzle game Cut the Rope arrive on iOS in December — but not make it to Android until late March this year. In both cases these games were given premium placement within the App Store, being promoted in a large box at the top of the home page.
Gameloft, the company behind titles like Asphalt, had apparently discussed the exclusivity angle with Apple, but eventually decided to launch on both Android and iOS at the same time. “We haven’t found the case where it makes sense for us,” said Gonzague de Vallois, head of sales and marketing. In contrast to the console battles from the last few decades, neither platform has managed to nail down anything resembling a talismanic mascot character or series — we’re not expecting hell to freeze over in this new fight.
This kind of promotion is new for Apple when it comes to the App Store. The company’s previous policy left the decision of which apps to promote down to an editorial team, who made their decisions based on the quality of the software, rather than any business considerations. Now, Apple’s App Store editorial team will give more weight to apps that are iOS exclusives. It will also favor apps recommended by its “developer-relations staff”.
Apple’s success so far when it comes to game exclusives seems to confirm what a lot of people have said before: that market share is less important than having customers who will spend money on your platform.
Alongside Apple and Google, Amazon also seems to be negotiating similar agreements, exchanging exclusivity for promotional deals. This reflects the video-game industry, where console manufacturers push hard for exclusive titles, although often these deals involve large cash sums.
Not surprisingly, Apple declined to comment on the matter. EA told The Wall Street Journal that it “works closely with both Apple and Google”.