Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
iPhone Devs: Rethinking the Art of Making Games
View All     RSS
October 25, 2020
arrowPress Releases
October 25, 2020
Games Press
View All     RSS

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


iPhone Devs: Rethinking the Art of Making Games

April 23, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

On March 17th, Apple, with an ear toward developers' pricing gripes, unveiled an in-app DLC feature to be included with the iPhone's 3.0 software. The logic was, of course, that developers can still charge low prices for relatively simple apps, but then build in additional content and features at additional cost without resorting to free updates or sequels.

Marsh, Bossert and Nicholas are pleased with the feature, saying that it is an improvement overall and provides more ways for developers to earn revenue. Bossert, however, admits concern that Apple does not allow free games to up-sell premium content.

Morrison remains lukewarm, however, saying, "It solves part of the problem. Of course, now it's even harder to justify a $4.99 price tag. I can't believe I just said that," referring to the negative reviews based on price, and the insane lengths users will sometimes go to procure a download code.

Says Nicholas, "I've had a number of people email me to complain that $2.99 was, and I quote, 'very expensive' for a game, and could I pretty please give them a free copy of it?"

Once you've gotten your game onto the App Store, though, that essentially lets the ratings genie out of the bottle. Ratings represent a crystal clear channel for users to vent frustrations, offer advice and sometimes leave glowing 1-star reviews -- whether developers want it or not.

All of the developers express frustration with uninformed or outdated reviews. Apple has addressed this issue with version-tagging reviews, but the Rate on Delete function remains, receiving universal disdain from the panel.

"It's a very bad feature," says Morrison. "It promotes negative reviews." Bossert agrees, "I think it's crap." Nicholas and Oliver come back with a simple solution of perhaps prompting a user to give a rating after they've launched an app five or ten times, which draws approval from the other developers.

Still, out of the chorus, there are some voices with reasonable requests and thoughtful advice. "Most suggestions from customers are consistent with the aims of the game," says Bossert. "We often have a list of potential updates and improvements, and customer feedback can help us re-prioritize that list." Marsh agrees, saying that "User reviews can quickly alert the developer to bugs and missing features."

But with reviews on the forefront of every App Store page, and developers that are eager to please, can user feedback drown out design docs or alter the artistic intent of a game?"

Morrison and Freeverse have taken a firm stance in the past. "We really only go after a new feature that fits in with what we want to do. Many people have asked for protected species of fish/sharks/whales in Flick Fishing, but we will not let you fish for endangered species, even virtually. It's a stance we wanted to take."

Nicholas too takes the hard line. "I'm not saying that players are dumb or anything like that -- just, well, if Miyamoto had listened to my suggestions after playing Mario 3 for twenty minutes, it would have been a terrible game."

iPhone development and the App Store itself remain very much a work in progress, which makes it one of the most exciting platforms to watch.

As we've seen through Apple's updates, there's constant give and take among not only developers and gamers, but also Apple itself by constantly refining the App Store. Overall, developers sound pleased with the Apple's support.

"Many issues devs reported have been addressed nicely," says Bossert. "I think their response has been great. They're giving the creative devs even more tools and APIs," says Marsh. Nicholas also agrees, saying, "I don't know about everyone else, but I got everything I was hoping for and more with this update."

Of course, he later Tweets his frustration during the iPhone 3.0 event, "Arg, I really need the iPhone developer portal to actually be working now! Yes, I know 3.0 is exciting, but stop killing the servers!"

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Related Jobs

Strange Loop Games
Strange Loop Games — Remote, Remote, Remote

Programmer on PC game 'Eco'
Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games — Burbank, California, United States

Character TD
Camouflaj — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Senior Graphics Engineer
Camouflaj — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Animation Engineer

Loading Comments

loader image