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.

  • Modjular

    I'm surprised TA has never done an interview with whoever runs the AppStore.

    • Qaioud

      God doesn't do interviews.

      (She's busy.)

  • gmattergames

    Steams "popular new release" list seems like a good approach to providing indies visibility, as new releases are given an initial boost in their list rank, and whether they remain in the top 10 is based on market interest, allowing "popular" releases extended visibility based on their own merit. Definitely brings new rereleases to my attention that otherwise, I'd never know about. This may not be so easy on AppStore, based on the dozens of slot games released everyday and developers being allowed to release the same exact game under different names on the same day.

  • WaveLightGames

    Sounds nice .... anything to get a little more visibility for us indies.

    • Stencilsmith_Dev

      Huzzah! Chances for discovery ever so slightly increased!

  • HelperMonkey

    I think this is great. But there will still be a need for some good curation, and the search function still needs improvement.
    As you said, indies are a prime force for innovation. This is a good step toward giving them a better platform. But at the same time, a huge amount of the clutter on the AppStore is also produced by individuals and very small indie developers.
    Long story short- TA is irreplaceable and will remain essential.

  • Michal Hochmajer

    All four thumbs up! Now...
    proper categorizing/subcategories and search, thx Apple.

  • Dr.SamLoomis

    It's about time. So many games go unnoticed that would easily be trailblazers for the mobile front...hoping this draws in more devs and more "premium" indie titles...would love to see darkest dungeon, the curious expedition...and where the hell is Prison Architect?!

    • Akesycu

      they're making a field day on PC. Srsly bringing a complex game to mobile is an exercise in futility.

      • Dr.SamLoomis

        Totally disagree. It brings much more visibility since everyone has a smartphone in their pocket/purse. If the UI/controls lend themselves well enough, it makes perfect sense...your comment, while appreciated, is inaccurate.

      • Doby Gillis

        Your OPINION is not fact. Remember that Felicia.

      • Dr.SamLoomis

        Wow, didn't know that by bringing my excitement to this topic it would upset so many people. Just trying to be apart of the fold, not looking for trouble. I'm a console gamer that's totally converted to (premiu
        )mobile. And the names Sam, not Felicia.

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      why of course Darkest Dungeon will soon come to the iPad

  • boydstr

    I hope that this can bring some positive changes in the AppStore, and more visibility for indie developers is a good thing.

  • Pete Ellison

    This is fantastic news! As a new game designer (#Breakforcist) this is really exciting and gives me a lot of hope for supporting iOS with new stuff!

    • Anotherkellydown

      You have my full support, sir! 😀

  • Far_Out

    'bout time

  • YankeeBlue000

    My hats off to T.A. for the incredible contribution they have made in this industry and to the mobile platform. iOS in particular. They're should be a T.A.'s top 10 or greatest hits list on the AppStore

    • Dr.SamLoomis

      Huzzah! Totally agree.

  • Kiltedsheep

    I wonder what the above-mentioned Dave Addey and Brian robbins are up to these days, 9 years on?

  • doublezz

    They should also do indie app as well other than games

  • colbertj

    How do you define an indie? Just a company that doesn't make many games? Makes little money? Just curious!

    • Lacuna King

      haha, that would be sad if an indie was defined as a company that makes little money. I'm not sure about Apple, but Google Play's Indie Corner defines an indie developer as one with less than 15 people.

  • denisvjcr

    I didn't find Shovel Knight , oohh wait 🙁

  • curtisrshideler

    I just wish I could search for a game and filter out ALL games that are FREE so I'm left with paid results. So sick of wading through F2P results to find one paid gem.

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      use App Shopper and that's all

  • Lacuna King

    This Indie celebration has been great for us and Mr. Missile. We didn't know it was coming, but the timing lined up nicely with our release, and we got a lot of downloads as a result. Thank you, App Store!

    But as others have commented below, TA's dedication to and coverage of indies is really helpful and appreciated. =]