App Store Saturating?

June 18th, 2009 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Platforms: iOS | No Comments »

Apple On PocketGamer, a few interesting stories where launched about the App Store roadmaps of Digital Chocolate and Gameloft. Both think different on how to feed the app store, but might there be a bigger problem ahead?

As Stuart mentions in his article, both companies announced a different approach to the quantity of mobile games they will be delivering to the App Store. Where Digital Chocolate announced that the company will be releasing 100 iPhone games in a year time, Gameloft says that it will be careful about the time between new game releases as it chooses quality over quantity.

If we take last week's announcement in mind, we know that there are well over 50.000 apps in the app store today (many publishers where holding back new titles until the 3.0 release yesterday). Both companies above are, and remain, big contributors to it but… they are not the only big publishers on it. Nest to that, there are still many thousands of smaller iPhone developers also bringing in their apps and games.

If we make a very rough calculation by dividing the 50.000 apps over a two year period (not minding the actual curve) there are well over 2.000 apps/games going live every month. Which consumer will track all those to make a choice?

As Stuart also mentions, in the classic model, operators had a certain capacity of games they felt necessary to fill their decks. With the app store, that boundary is removed. At the moment, the offering of products seems to exceed the demand for them. In other words, the App Store is saturating and you have to work hard to make your game stand out from the crowd (and so make a profit from them).

This situation much reminds me of a conversation I had about 5 years ago when I wanted to get some games published on China Mobile. The local publisher told me that China Mobile was releasing hundreds of mobile games every week or so. The average shelf life of a mobile game was 2 weeks. Yes, that is 2 weeks in which you have to turn your mobile game profitable.

Luckily, there where many other channels where you could also publish your game to generate additional revenues. This made China Mobile just a part of your revenue stream. With the App Store however, you have only one chance to do it right as your code will not work on other devices and your game officially can't be sold on other channels.

Recent research showed that Apple holds roughly 10% of the devices in the market today (can't find it back). This means that most of the bright developers and publishers on the App Store forget that there is another interesting 90% out there that is waiting to be served. Sure, that 90% is harder because of device fragmentation, but fragmentation is happening at the App Store as well. Just not as fast as the traditional market.

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    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.


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