Apple didn't invent the smartphone, but it's hard to argue that their introduction of the iPhone back in 2007 didn't dramatically change the existing smartphone landscape and set the tone for how smart devices should be. In a similar vein, they didn't invent the digital app store, but when they placed the OPEN sign in the virtual window of their own App Store in 2008, they largely brought digital software and app-dominated lives to the mainstream. Apple's App Store democratized software development, especially in terms of games. No longer was game development solely in the hands of the major players in the games industry; now literally anybody with the means to make a game and a hundred bucks for an Apple Developer license could put their creations out in the world for millions to see. It's truly amazing.
That said, removing the barrier of entry to game development also brought with it a new set of issues. Probably the most common of these that you'll hear from developers is the struggle to gain visibility in the App Store. With so many people now able to make and release games, well, a lot of people are making and releasing games! There's about 2 million apps in the App Store as of this writing, but visibility has been a concern for developers since day one. I love looking back at this early post of ours from when the App Store officially went live in July of 2008. The handful of comments are all complaining about not being among the featured apps of that time and how difficult certain apps are to find amongst the crowd of others. Keep in mind the App Store launched with just 160 apps back then. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Anyway, all of this is to say that as of this morning, Apple has launched a major initiative to help increase visibility in the App Store, specifically for indie developers. You may have been following along for the past week as Apple's been running a "Celebrating Indies" promotion where they've been featuring one brand new indie game each day along with an accompanying banner in the App Store, as well as various other features showcasing some classic indie games and sales. It's been a fantastic feature and provided a solid week of incredibly high quality games.
While it's unlikely Apple will continue to hand-pick and feature a brand new indie game every day forever (even though there's enough quality stuff coming out they probably could), this new Indie storefront will give a bunch of developers an additional avenue of visibility. It's especially nice for studios made up of just a handful of people as often they have all the talent in the world to create a great game but none of the marketing budget of bigger, more established companies. Those who have followed TouchArcade since the beginning know we've always been all about the small developers, even going back to the pre-App Store homebrew days. As mobile gaming has taken off it's been fun to see the major game industry players flock to the platform, but our hearts will always be with those plucky indie developers.
I'm hoping this new initiative from Apple will offer something similar to what we've always strived to do here: Bring the high quality offerings on the App Store to the forefront. Every other gaming platform has started to take indie developers more seriously, and in my opinion they're the ones who have been moving the industry forward with new and interesting experiences while the AAA developers have been playing it safe. The iOS platform has always embodied that spirit of innovation in gaming, and it's fantastic to see it finally being officially recognized. To visit the new Indie section of the App Store, you can click this link to go directly there.