For various reasons, it seems as though Apple’s ongoing struggle against App Store regulations, flaws, security practices – and, perhaps most obvious of all, its public perception – over the past year or so has barely taken a moment’s respite.
Between their high profile and protracted legal entanglement with Epic Games, their very public disagreement with the latest cloud gaming providers (including global giants Amazon and Facebook), a number of run-ins with consumer watchdogs and, in a yet more recent plot twist, one of their own senior engineers blowing the whistle on the company’s deficient security practices, it is safe to safe that Apple is being put through the wringer by competitors, one-time collaborators, and users.
There is, of course, an impossible dichotomy at work. The iOS App Store represents one of the most valuable markets in the world; with over 1 billion active iPhones as of January 2021, it has virtually been written into the developer’s code (pun intended) that targeting and adhering to iOS App Store regulations is virtually the only way reach a big enough market to make a killing.
Still, the issues are mounting faster than ever before for Apple, and many developers have already begun to jump ship as increasingly rigid regulations for developers (and an environment that seems to weigh ever more in Apple’s favour) make it an untenable venture, particularly for independent studios. Read more below.
Gaming is Moving Beyond Apple’s Regulations
Alongside social media applications, gaming is, inarguably, one of the biggest draws for any mobile app store. We are all aware of this genre’s value in the wider world of gaming, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of us dedicate plenty of free moments to mobile games.
The iOS App Store has always represented a irresistible platform for the world’s leading developers, from (until very recently) the AAA developer Epic Games to developers like GGPoker, who, despite already holding significant sway via their downloadable PC software, created a complementary app that has proven highly successful with iOS.
Still, both of these developers stand as strong examples of the freedom many of the world’s leading companies now have to emancipate themselves from the App Store. In the case of GGPoker, they would no doubt continue to thrive without the App Store offering an additional platform – simply by virtue of their value among users, garnered independently from the visibility offered by the App Store. In the case of Epic Games, we are already beginning to see quite how ready they are to reshape the future of mobile gaming away from iOS – and, for that matter, how willing users already are to forgo the platform that once represented the be all and end all of mobile gaming.
After all, consider how popular cloud gaming is already proving – even in spite of that industry’s run-ins with Apple, who made their disapproval clear from the get go and spent many months going back and forth over their decision.
While the majority of iPhone users may feel a little lost over their ability to play games on their mobiles without the App Store, it looks as though the coming years will bring some much needed clarity – and new options for this once captive market.
A New Landscape
There is, of course, no way of knowing to what extent the environment will change for developers and users – or how long these changes will take to fall into place. What we can feel sure of, however, is that developers have been struggling against the tide of iOS for a while now – though, admittedly, to varying degrees – and that, with the world of gaming opening up to explore new methods and platforms, we can anticipate new opportunities to be presented to developers in time.