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Google and Apple enter “arms race” for top-tier video games

Google and Apple are among a clutch of companies that are battling it out to allow video game developers favourable product placement should they offer an exclusive window to carry popular gaming titles like Plants Vs. Zombies 2 and Cut the Rope.

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People familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that mobile OS manufacturers have been increasingly attempting to curry favour with game developers to make sure that titles arrive on iOS, Android or even Amazon’s forked Android variant first.

Both firms are offering companies the chance to feature prominently on the home page of the App Store as well as feature lists free of charge, in exchange for staying with the respective store for a given period of time.

One example was the release of Plants Vs. Zombies 2 last August, which was given extensive promotion on Apple’s App Store following a deal with its publisher Electronic Arts that gave Apple two months exclusivity on the game. A similar situation took place when Cut the Rope was released to Apple from Zeptolab in December and the titles didn’t get released on the Google Play Store until October 2013 and March 2014 as a result.

Emily Greer, head of Kongregate, likened the situation to an “arms race” and explained that if game players “love a game, and it's not available on an alternate platform, they'll change platforms.”

Amazon is another that is offering similar deals with premium placement on the app store home screen in order to try and promote its Kindle line of devices.

"We work with many developers to bring their apps to the Amazon Appstore, some of which are exclusive to our store," said an Amazon spokeswoman.

The importance of video games in the app landscape was laid bare by App Annie and IDC figures showing that 70 per cent of the $16 billion [£9.5 billion] spent on mobile apps last year was in the video game category.

"Videogames are critical applications," said Patrick Mork, a former director of global marketing for Google's app store. "Not only is it where people are spending their time and money, they also showcase the power of computing on their devices."

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Mork added that a premium placement could cause as much as a ten-fold spike in daily downloads and further backs up the moves by Google, Apple and Amazon.