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3 Jun 2015

PSA: The App Store’s Game Section Has Changed

Happy mid-week everyone. We wanted to take a second today to let everyone know about the changes Apple has made to the Games section of the App Store. As you probably know, for the longest time the App Store has remained fairly unchanged. Lists such as, “New,” What’s Hot,” and “All iPhone (Free and Paid),” have been mainstays of the store for years.

But now they’re gone.

According to TechCrunch, these lists have been replaced with curated lists created by Apple employees themselves. Instead of having lists algorithmically generated, the App Store has a more human touch (meaning the tactics developers that were once gaming the system to get their games noticed are no longer working). It’s essentially the reason why the “All iPhone (Free and Paid)” section was removed, in that it now forces devs to focus on quality instead of being sneaky about getting to the top.

Hop onto the App Store and you are going to find sections such as, “Best New Games,” as well as “All Time Greats;” again, lists created by editors at Apple that will be refreshed weekly. Alongside these lists is the, “More Games You Might Like,” list, which recommends games players will most likely enjoy based on their purchase history. Even more interesting? Pages displaying subcategories for games (e.g. Card, Trivia, Arcade, etc.) also have editorially created lists, meaning no matter what type of game someone wants to play, they have plenty of recommendations to choose from via lists such as, “Pay Once & Play,” “Free,” and so on.

What does this mean for indie developers? It’s hard to truthfully say, but TechCrunch had this to note:

“A handful [of developers] reported substantial drops in organic downloads, ranging from 30 percent to as high as 90 percent, during the first week after launch [of the update]. Discussing the matter on private forums, developers have even reported seeing launch day numbers drop from over 1,000 downloads per day to just 100.”

They mention that for indie developers that focus on discoverability via the App Store search (e.g. using ASO techniques) and have a solid marketing plan, the significance of this update is going to be mute.

“More importantly,” continues TechCrunch,” the editorial sections mean those developers who build great games will be rewarded for doing so, instead of having to compete against an inscrutable algorithm.

Truthfully, this can be seen as a good thing. Games that are blatant clones and outright stolen from other devs are never going to crop up in lists because let’s be real: who at Apple is actually going to list these games in one of the App Store’s curated lists? It’s a technique being used to reward the developers that actually have awesome games. These changes are only in the U.S. marketplace at the moment, so for those of you in other parts of the world, they may be coming sooner than later but we don’t really know.

What can you do to not only survive this update, but make it work for you? Check out our post from nearly two years ago titled, Tips to Getting Featured in Apple’s ‘New and Noteworthy’ Section; a post that tells you everything you need to know about making your game appealing to customers and now, the editorial staff over at Apple. Follow our advice (especially the part about networking with people at Apple – reaching out to the editorial staff would be a great idea), and this update isn’t going to hurt you in the least.

Do you have any questions or comments about the next big update to the App Store? Let us know in the comments below!

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