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Why Apple should support sites like TouchArcade and why they won't

06-23-2015, 03:49 PM
#1
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
Why Apple should support sites like TouchArcade and why they won't

If I worked at Apple and had sufficient clout I would have Apple buy TouchArcade. I would pay a small staff of writers to stay on full-time and see how much other work we could get away with free or freelance.

Why would I do this? Because I am too lazy to curate the App Store.

Apple is a lot like credit card companies in that it makes money off all sides. They get a cut of every transaction on iOS, they get money for dev kits, they get money for advertising on their platform. The App Store is essentially the Apple Mint and it almost doesn't matter how good or bad apps are so long as Apple gets money from them.

The problem is the App Store is beginning to groan under the sheer weight of its library size. This is something that happens time and time again. Too many choices, not enough time or money. The App Store is horribly bloated and every 10 to 100 flappy-clones, "me to" F2p games, and rogue-lites there is that 1 diamond in the rough.

I don't have the time or inclination to go diving in the sewer to find that gem and I think I just described most people. More and more if a game doesn't hit a top chart somewhere or pop on some top-level promotion it dies a horrible slow obscure death. What would bother me is the concern that the App Store may be drowning the golden goose instead of letting it lay those little gold nuggets. Would I, as an Apple Exec, be pleased with making a small fortune off of crap versus a possible huge fortune off of excellent games? TouchArcade is a barometer of the mobile gaming scene, even with their iOS focus.

However, it won't change. Why? Because too much money is already being made. No business is going to say "I'd rather make 100 million than 1 billion!" but there are plenty that will say "I'd rather make the 100 million I know I can have than risk only making 50 million when I was shooting for a billion." When I worked with sales guys they'd often tell me it takes as much to land a $100,000 deal as it does a $1 million deal. So why ever bother with some of the $10,000 and $50,000 contracts we had? Easy money, even though it was taking time away from bigger deals.

In the Steve Jobs era, someone at Apple, maybe Jobs himself, would be concerned about the glut in the App Store and looking at a long-term and innovative solution to keep it from collapsing under its own weight. In the Tim Cook era? Too traditional, too risk averse, too busy copying the competition and pretending they are innovating.

The best part of Apple owning something like TouchArcade is that they are too big to be touched by anyone using the App Store. TA could run without ads and very little corporate oversight. Sadly, it will never happen.
06-23-2015, 07:26 PM
#2
Joined: May 2014
Posts: 122
This is my biggest concern with the future of mobile. There is no discovery outside of top charts, Apple features and sites like TA. At least Steam helps you sift thru the garbage with curation (and their library is a tiny fraction of the App Store).

I'd love to see a heavily curated App Store, or at least curation features where people could browse games selected by TA, Pocket Gamer and others. Maybe even a Premium App Store (never going to happen).

I just don't see Apple caring either way. They make money in either case so why bother spending more money for curation when they can continue raking in money as is. There's no financial incentive for any changes to discovery, which I think is the biggest obstacle for long term success of mobile gaming.

06-23-2015, 08:14 PM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by mid83 View Post
This is my biggest concern with the future of mobile. There is no discovery outside of top charts, Apple features and sites like TA. At least Steam helps you sift thru the garbage with curation (and their library is a tiny fraction of the App Store).

I'd love to see a heavily curated App Store, or at least curation features where people could browse games selected by TA, Pocket Gamer and others. Maybe even a Premium App Store (never going to happen).

I just don't see Apple caring either way. They make money in either case so why bother spending more money for curation when they can continue raking in money as is. There's no financial incentive for any changes to discovery, which I think is the biggest obstacle for long term success of mobile gaming.
Do you folks live under a rock? Have you been to the App Store in the last three months. The entire store is now heavily curated, with most automated lists eliminated. In fact, there's a whole other thread in this forum bemoaning the fact that Apple has done away with "organic" discovery by making the store too curated.

Right now you can go to the App Store and find lists for great RPGs, great action games, great paid-and-done games, great free-to-play games, and so on. New game lists are all hand assembled and include pretty much every game that gets features in TouchArcade.

Apple, BTW, makes very little money from the App Store. In fact, the store exists to entice people to buy phones. They have a strong incentive to improve the customer experience and, to a certain extent, make it easier for appealing games to make it to the store -- especially ones that justify purchasing the more expensive phones. That may not always help small indie developers, but it's what keeps games like Transistor making their way to iOS.
06-24-2015, 12:45 AM
#4
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,937
Quote:
Originally Posted by squarezero View Post
Do you folks live under a rock? Have you been to the App Store in the last three months. The entire store is now heavily curated, with most automated lists eliminated. In fact, there's a whole other thread in this forum bemoaning the fact that Apple has done away with "organic" discovery by making the store too curated.

Right now you can go to the App Store and find lists for great RPGs, great action games, great paid-and-done games, great free-to-play games, and so on. New game lists are all hand assembled and include pretty much every game that gets features in TouchArcade.

Apple, BTW, makes very little money from the App Store. In fact, the store exists to entice people to buy phones. They have a strong incentive to improve the customer experience and, to a certain extent, make it easier for appealing games to make it to the store -- especially ones that justify purchasing the more expensive phones. That may not always help small indie developers, but it's what keeps games like Transistor making their way to iOS.
They don't make that much money? Where did you get that information from? If Apple takes 30% off all purchases, what would that mean for all the games on the top 150?
06-24-2015, 09:15 AM
#5
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
If that is what Apple considers curation, it needs work.

When I search I get tons of junk. On the other hand, there have been several games covered by TA that either never show up on the main page or very briefly.

Also, what constitutes "not much money". Kabam reported profits of about half a billion recently. No matter what percentage of that Apple received it is still a ton of money. That's just one company.

Apple can't survive on the App Store alone, but I also find it hard to believe it's not profitable either.
06-24-2015, 12:11 PM
#6
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 10,656
Quote:
Originally Posted by Based Xatu View Post
They don't make that much money? Where did you get that information from? If Apple takes 30% off all purchases, what would that mean for all the games on the top 150?
Was going to say of course they make tons of money from the app store. You always hear how many biions they paid out to devs. Sure Apple make a fair bit of change as we
06-24-2015, 01:29 PM
#7
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,400
This is easily one of the worst ideas I've ever read.

And anyway, when did it become Apples responsibility to keep TA going just because they happen to write about the games on the App Store?
Isn't it the responsibility of the site to keep itself going?

Should they bail out every developer whose app doesn't make money also?
Should they buy Macworld as well?
Or the Wall Street Journal? Or hell even the New York Times?
They write about Apple too.

Or maybe just a few music magazines and websites because, well , you know they write about music and Apple sells music on iTunes.
Or maybe they should just buy outright Marvel studios and Disney because they sell stuff from them on the App Store and iTunes as well.

Apple already employs people to curate, plenty of people to do the exact same thing.
The minute Apple bought TA, it would simply be swallowed up, integrated and essentially closed down.

And even if that didn't happen, they would simply not be independent anymore and they would certainly be subject to corporate oversight and the unbiased opinions that we've all grown used to and admire and love about the site would be dead and gone.
And anybody who ever signed any kind of agreement with Apple would know that.
They simply would not be the independent entity they are now.
It's that independence and lack of bias that keeps me reading here.
The minute that's gone, I'm gone.

I neither support jail breaking nor emulators but those articles would be gone and many others and I see that as nothing but a bad thing for the independence of journalism and journalistic integrity.
Do we really want Apple controlling the independent media around its ecosystem?
No we don't.
And neither does Apple.

And anyway, it's still not Apples responsibility to keep the place going one way or another, it's the editors and the owners.
And they are already doing their best and staying true to their vision.
I'm sure they'll achieve what they set out to do and if not, they will adapt accordingly as they have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and I have plenty of faith in them.
It might mean sacrificing some of their vision, hell, we've all had to that at some stage but I still believe their core beliefs will survive any transition to another payment model.

So, no, the very last thing that should happen is Apple buying TA.
Apple doesn't want that and neither should the reader.
Apple values the independent input of outside sites just as much as we should value said sites independence.
Apple is a fan of TA and a fan of it just the way it is now, independent.
And they already have a strong editorial team for themselves and that makes the value of an independent editorial team in TA even greater as their not subject to the corporate influences that every corporation has and can (and always do) provide an out of box view on things that just can't be got by buying it.

Worst idea ever.

And on the App Store monetisation, of course the App Store makes Apple plenty of money.
But don't kid yourselves into thinking its a cash cow on its own.
It's only a cash cow as it is because of iPhones/iPads and is a driving force for people to buy the devices they make that happens to make money as well on its own, nothing more, nothing less.
Each is dependent on the other but Apple is a hardware and software company primarily. Its own software for its own devices.
Theirs devices and operating systems are their primary focus.
iTunes only came in to existence to sell iPods.
The same is true of the App Store. It exists to sell more iPhones/iPads. It just happens to have done quite well for them because of the closed ecosystem of iOS.
So it's important to them, yes, but only as long as they are making iPhones/iPads and never consider it any other way.
The App Store is the tail and the tail doesn't wag the dog.
The fact that it is the best option out there is simply a reflection of the dedication of Apple to it's ecosystem.

Just as the staff, writers, owners, editors of TA are dedicated to their product and that too is the best in its field.
And TA needs to keep its independence because sometimes even the best need to be called out on things they've gotten wrong and TA has never shied away from doing that with Apple and I don't want that to change.
And neither does Apple.
That outside feedback is invaluable and irreplaceable but it needs to remain outside.

If the worst comes to the worst, I will indeed be very sad and tremendously disappointed, but the good people of TA won't let me down, they will adapt and continue to write the excellent independent articles they are known and universally loved for (even though we disagree frequently) for many years to come.

Last edited by Rip73; 06-24-2015 at 01:33 PM.
06-24-2015, 01:40 PM
#8
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip73 View Post
This is easily one of the worst ideas I've ever read.

---Long angry rant truncated---
One of my favorite quotes applies - "That's just like, your opinion, Man."

It's not about bailing out everyone who fails. That's a non-sequitur. At no point did I ever suggest any such thing.

The point is that TA helps the discovery of good games in a sea of crap. In many ways they also help identify crap trying to pass itself off as a diamond.

It would be mutually beneficial as at some point the current model will crash. Video games have gone through multiple crashes during the time I've been gaming. I played E.T. on the Atari 2600. I've been around for that and was gaming before then.

TA is a quality site, not all of them are. Apple loses nothing if TA publishes a negative review and stands to gain, in the form of increased sales and IAP, for reviews of genuinely good apps.

Part of the problem with the current App Store is that reviews are broken. Companies are incentivizing and some apps are actually blocking anything less than a 5 star review. The system is being abused by companies.

Again though, I think I made it quite clear why it wouldn't happen.

As for "the worst idea ever", maybe. I see a potentially mutually beneficial relationship where an excellent site doesn't have to scrounge for advertising dollars or beg for their continued existence while Apple can have an arms length relationship with a site that will evaluate App Store content and promote the best of the best.

More than likely you are right in that if Apple did buy TA with its current management it would just get swallowed into the conglomerate. The current Apple is looking more Microsoftian by the day.
06-24-2015, 01:55 PM
#9
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,400
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazedJava View Post
truncation
I didnt bother reading beyond the truncation.
Derogation of alternate opinions doesn't help your case or validate your opinion further.

Last edited by Rip73; 06-24-2015 at 02:02 PM.
06-24-2015, 02:04 PM
#10
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip73 View Post
I didnt bother reading beyond the truncation.
Derogation of alternate opinions doesn't help your case or validate your opinion further.
Then you would have seen that other than that statement I did not make any derogatory comments and actually wrote a reasoned response and even agreed with one of your points.

Sheesh.