Apple enticing games publishers with promotion deals in return for exclusivity

Game Center WWDC 2013

The Wall Street Journal has published a report saying that both Apple and Google are actively pursuing exclusivity deals with game developers. Whispers of these type of arrangements surfaced last year, with reports highlighting a partnership between Apple and EA for Plants vs Zombies 2.

The Journal confirms that Apple’s exclusivity deals do not include monetary payments. In return, the companies offer “premium placement” (such as featured spots on the home page) for launching first on their platform.

In regard to the Plants vs Zombies’ deal, the report says EA gave Apple agreed about two months of exclusivity.

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EA says reports Apple paid for Plants vs Zombies 2 iOS exclusive ‘an unfortunate misunderstanding’

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Yesterday a story popped up Giant Bomb claiming that EA executive Frank Gibeau said Apple had paid the company a “truckload of money” to launch PopCap’s much anticipated Plants vs Zombies 2 title as an iOS exclusive. Apple quickly denied the comments in a brief statement following the story and said that no money was exchanged with the publisher. As if that wasn’t enough, EA representatives today issued an official statement on the matter saying that the comment was taken out of context (via PocketGamer):

“A comment from an internal meeting taken out of context has created an unfortunate misunderstanding,” says EA’s statement.

“Reports of a paid relationship between Apple and EA are factually inaccurate, and we apologise for any confusion.”

Gibeau’s comments were clearly taken out of context, and we tend to believe that Apple didn’t offer up any cash in exchange for Plants vs Zombies 2 landing on iOS before Android. But what did he really mean with his “truckload of money” comment? Perhaps EA knew it would receive favorable placement in the App Store as a much hyped iOS exclusive?

There are a lot of unanswered questions about how Apple goes about featuring and ranking apps on the App Store, but it’s big money for developers who often see enormous boost in revenue and downloads when featured on the store.

Last month a report from Fiksu noted changes in how Apple ranks apps and seems to be incorporating user ratings and other new metrics, but this is the first we’ve heard of Apple possibly working with developers to have apps launch exclusively on iOS.

Apps & updates: Gmail, Tumblr, Minecraft, Plants vs. Zombies, more

Gmail version 1.3.1: The Gmail iOS app was updated today with the ability to open web links within the Chrome iOS app instead of Safari. A handful of bug fixes were also included.

 

Tumblr version 3.1.0: Tumblr’s iPhone app gets a nice update that brings improvements to notifications, the ability to discover new blogs to follow via Facebook or your contacts and an option for your friends to sign up within the app itself. Other improvements included in the update: you can now track specific tags, a fast re-blog option by tapping and holding the re-blog icon and the ability to send fan mail. There are also some new sharing options when holding the “Like” button.

 

Minecraft – Pocket Edition version 0.4.0: A major release for the Pocket Edition of Minecraft includes a ton of new features, items, tweaks and bug fixes. A full list of what is new is below:

- Chests for storing items!
- Beds for skipping to dawn (day and nights are now longer), and set your spawn point to the bed’s position.
- Creepers and TNT (use flint and steel to ignite)!
- Added food. Eat it to restore health.
- Farming; wheat, seeds and hoe.
- Peaceful mode setting: healing and no monsters.
- Trapdoor, new dyes and a few new recipes.
+ More: close to 20 bug fixes and tweaks, e.g. monsters spawned when bright, client fall damage.

Plants vs. Zombies version 1.9.5: Along with full HD support for the new Retina iPad, PopCap updated all the Plants vs. Zombies iOS apps today with five new levels, three new achievements and new weapons and game modes:
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Apps & updates: Skype, ooVoo Video Chat, Plants vs. Zombies, more

Skype version 4.1: Both Skype’s iPhone and iPad apps were updated today with the ability to send and receive photos (with no file size limit) in addition to a number of other enhancements. Also present is updated privacy settings, a fix for issues related to Bluetooth and calls, and “Minor visual improvements across the app.” Skype also explained how it’s made the app “less battery hungry” and improved overall performance:

We’ve also improved the overall performance of Skype’s mobile apps. We’ve made them less battery hungry when running in the background, so you’ll now be able to answer Skype calls throughout the day when they come in. And, as you’ll be able to keep Skype open, you can respond to or send IMs to friends and colleagues all day long. In addition, we’ve tried to make the app start and contact list load even faster, so you can do all the things you love to do with Skype more quickly.

ooVoo Video Chat version 1.2.0: The free 12-way HD video chat app was updated today with a bunch of notable features including 4 pane video chat support on iPhone 4S, push notifications for chat messages and incoming video, and much more. You can also now send chat messages during a video call, start chats from the IM tab, and view a history of past text and video chats.

Plants Vs. Zombies Sequel: PopCap has confirmed it is working on a sequel to the extremely popular Plants Vs. Zombies title slated to launch sometime in late spring 2013. With the success of its iOS version of the first title, there is no doubt part two will be landing on iPhones and iPads when it arrives next year. We don’t have many details yet, but PopCap said the game will include “a bevy of new features, settings, and situations, designed to delight the franchise’s tens of millions of fans around the world.” We are also promised “hordes of new plant and zombie types.”

“Spring is crullest curlie ungood time, and plantz grow dull roots,” noted an unidentified spokesperson. “So, we are meating you for brainz at yore house. No worry to skedule schedlue plan… we’re freee anytime. We’ll find you.” Read more