Apple vs Google: Using Video Game Exclusives in Mobile Platform War

App store hero

Sometimes highly anticipated apps hit Apple’s App Store first before Google’s Google Play store—this is no coincidence, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In the ongoing quest to lure users to their mobile platforms, Apple and Google have been turning to video game exclusives to pull it off, through backdoor deals with developers which gain prominent marketing in exchange for offering games solely to one company first:

The two Silicon Valley giants have been wooing game developers to ensure that top-tier game titles arrive first on devices powered by their respective operating systems, people familiar with the situation said.

In exchange, Apple and Google are offering to provide a promotional boost for these games by giving them premium placement on their app stores’ home pages and features lists, these people said.

One example was the launch of Plants vs Zombies 2 last August, developed by EA. Sources say the latter and Apple came to a deal where in exchange for a two-month exclusive window in the App Store, the game would get featured front and centre. Plants vs Zombies 2 didn’t hit Android devices until October of last year.

Apple’s App Store editorial team has put more weight into exclusive titles as Android’s influence continues to grow, say sources. Also, App Store editorial teams are also giving more consideration to games suggested highly by their developer relations staff.

Developers willing to agree to exclusivity to Apple only get marketing or promotional assistance from the company, and do not get offered money. Apple makes these offers to developers in meetings where new games are demonstrated or discussed, say sources.

Not all developers agree to offers of exclusivity from Apple though, according to Gameloft’s head of sales and marketing Gonzague de Vallois, who said they had talked about a possible deals but ended up launching their Asphalt racing series at the same time on iOS and Android, as that worked out better for them.

Apple declined to comment on the story but an EA spokesperson said the company “works closely with both Apple and Google.”

Amazon and Microsoft have also engaged in similar exclusive deals with developers too, say sources.

I don’t know about you, but I personally would not switch mobile platforms to play a video game. A game that gets exclusivity for a few months isn’t exactly worth switching over to a new phone and operating system. But I do see how a new smartphone user would probably make their choice between iOS and Android based on available video game titles and other apps.