IGF Mobile

8 10 2008

The organizers of the Independent Games Festival (IGF) have announced a new $10,000 prize for iPhone game development as part of the 2009 Independent Games Festival Mobile event.

IGF Mobile happens as part of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), an annual gathering of game developers that happens each year in San Francisco. GDC 2009 happens March 23 – 27, 2009.


App Store Tweaking

30 09 2008

Apple over the weekend instated a series of changes to the way its App Store operates in an effort to knock out loopholes that were being exploited by some developers seeking an unfair advantage.


In particular, the store now requires that users purchase or download an application before they able to post a review of that particular application.

Users attempting to post a review of application that they haven’t downloaded are now met with a dialog box stating: “In order to write a Custom Review for this item you must have purchased or downloaded it.”

Apple hopes this move will mitigate the number of bogus, or agenda-driven reviews that have been used to raise or lower an applications overall rating, sometimes at the hands of developers themselves.

App Updates

Similarly, and more critically, the company also made changes to the way applications appear on the App Store after receiving a minor update.

App Store Changes

In the past, all applications were categorized based on their ‘release date.’ However, Apple had been determining release dates based on the last date the application received an update, rather than the first time it appeared on the store as a 1.0 application.

As a result, applications receiving updates would be pushed back to the first page of their respective category listing, often appearing on the App Store home page within iTunes as well, and the first page of category listings viewed on an iPhone or iPod touch.

The result was an immediate jump in sales, as noted by Krishna Vegesna, whose company TouchMeme offers three applications on the App Store. He posted the graph (below) illustrating this behavior, where each spike in sales coincided with the release of one of his app updates.

App Store Changes

“With the latest update to the AppStore, the above behavior is no longer holds true (and I am glad it doesn’t),” he said. “This is because the applications are now categorized according to the ‘Actual Released Date’ rather that the last updated date.”

Given Apple’s changes, new version 1.0 applications will have a longer shelf life on the first page of category listings, as they won’t be bumped down in the listings as quickly due to an influx of minor app updates.

The moves should also allow developers to shift their focus to “real innovation in functionality rather than focusing on who pushes the update first,” Vegesna said. At the same time, however, he raises the concern that tactical developers may now focus on rolling out new apps to generate high profits rather than improving their existing ones.

App Store Downloads Hit 100mil, Spotlight on Games

9 09 2008

The App Store has served up more than 100 million applications since it first went online, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs announced the news during Apple’s “Let’s Rock” event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The App Store launched in mid-July with about 500 applications to start. By the end of the first weekend it was open for business, iPhone and iPod users had downloaded more than 10 million copies of applications. The service is available to any iPhone or iPod touch user whose gear is running iPhone 2.0 software or later.

Now Jobs reports that there are over 3,000 applications available for download from the App Store, which is operating in 62 countries worldwide. The success of the App Store is “even more mindblowing,” said Jobs, when you consider that Tuesday marked the 60th day of operation for the venture.

Games took center stage as Jobs and Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller demonstrated how the App Store works. Jobs said that there are now more than 700 games available from the App Store. The abundance of games makes the iPod touch “the funnest iPod ever,” said Jobs.

Schiller demonstrated Spore Origins, EA’s new game which made it to the iPod touch and iPhone yesterday, while Jobs showed off the as-yet unreleased iPhone version of Iron Man, based on the popular movie. Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2009, an international soccer (football) game, and a version of EA’s popular Need for Speed racing game franchise, were also demonstrated.

EA, for its part, recently announced that Spore Origins and nine other games were headed to the iPhone and iPod touch this year alone.

Google Announces Android Market

28 08 2008

Google on Thursday announced Android Market, an online center that will let people find, buy, download, and rate applications and other content for mobile phones equipped with the open-source operating system.

Attracting developer attention is a key part of the Google-led Android software effort, and those who produce applications will have an easy time getting them to the market, Eric Chu of Google’s Android project said in a Thursday blog post.

“Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content and publish it,” Chu said. “We chose the term ‘market’ rather than ‘store’ because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available.”

Though the first Android phones are planned to arrive later this year, Chu said to expect the initial phone-based Android Market application to be a beta version that might only support distribution of free applications. An update later will handle different versions of applications, support for different profiles of Android phones, and analytics to help developers track adoption.

The move was expected. Google said in May at the Google I/O conference that it would provide a central repository of Android software.