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Who’s the publisher in the App Store model?

Pointing to an interview with the creators of Zen Bound, the inestimable Mr Gruber reckons that:

“The App Store lets creators, rather than publishers, reap the rewards. This whole interview is just terrific.”

Except for one thing: in the App Store model, Apple takes the role of the publisher, in exchange for 30% of revenue.

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  • http://www.reverttosaved.com/ Craig Grannell

    Mm. Mind you, that's way better than in most cases, and the devs get to keep their IP, unlike most elsewhere in the gaming industry.

    Mind you, this is all being clouded anyway these days, since the majority of largeish iPhone games now appear to be getting online via… publishers. It's like the 1980s gaming industry sped up.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk ianbetteridge

    Ah yes, they let you keep your IP. But if they no longer want to publish your IP, you get no revenue. So there's no more “power to the creators” here than the old model, where, at least, if a publisher rejected your product you could try another publisher.

  • http://www.reverttosaved.com/ Craig Grannell

    Speaking to people in the general gaming industry, that follows elsewhere, too. A good example is Sensible Software, whose entirely back catalogue is owned by Codemasters. A new version of Cannon Fodder would make perfect sense, but Codemasters isn't interested, and so the IP is dead and the creator gets nothing further from it.

    The problem for me is more Apple's bizarre-o-brick wall, but in general I saw the App Store as almost a return to early-to-mid 1980s bedroom coding, with the odd large company also around (in the same sort of way as Imagine and Activision in 1984); now, we're in the late 1980s—lots of indies, but many of which are 'joining' publishers like Chillingo. It'll be interesting to see what happens next, but I sure as hell hope it's not a 1990s-style 'Everything. Must. Conform.' attitude.

  • daycoder

    Not 30% of profit though. An important distinction. The developers do get something for that 30%.

    The unclear rules and Apple imposed censorship are the big problems that they need to fix rather than revenue share.

    Minipops app rejected 'because we say so'. Developer unable to get any answer while at WWDC. Utter madness.

  • daycoder

    It's almost like they need a 2nd tier app store. One where the apps are checked for technical compliance, but there is no censorship and no restrictions (Or maybe the whole app store should be like this, full stop). It's their ball, and if they don't want you to play, you're stuffed.

  • http://t-machine.org/ Adam

    Wait, what? No!

    Apple is in no way acting as a *games* publisher, unless by “publisher” you mean “back-alley operation that looks like an illegal scam business operating at a loss for tax-dodge purposes” – Apple doesn't do, well, *any* of the things that a game publisher does. Let's go down the list:

    * provide complete funding before the project starts?
    * manage the design of the project, from a sales/marketing POV?
    * manage the delivery of the project, from a sales/marketing POV?
    * invent + manage marketing campaigns?
    * control pricing?
    * control distribution? (yes! they do *one thing*!)
    * take IP ownership?
    * exploit the IP – create sequels, sell merchandising, … anything like that?
    * provide customer support?
    * provide customer billing? (OK, there's a second thing Apple does)

    …and so on. Apple != Publisher; Apple == Distributor / Retailer. The one massive difference between App Store and what has gone before is that this is the first time any retailer has offered to do business direct with the developers.

    This means that the need for Publisher is still there – all the things they used to do are (potentially) still needed. (IMHO some of them aren't needed any more, especially “funding” for instance).

  • Alistair Jeffs

    Getting to keep 70% is a big enough incentive worth the effort. If Apple rejects ya, there are other App stores popping up these days…FINALLY. The App Store is streets better than the ridiculous – and complete failure – orifice that the operators were running in the early 00's. Ask Supedo.

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