When I saw the prices of pretty much every Slitherine game drop to their lowest ever, I didn't know what to think. If nothing else, this publisher has been pretty firm about charging a premium price for their games. Slash and burn isn't usually their style. But then I remembered something very, very important. Almost all of Slitherine's games are 32-bit apps, and the publisher has made it clear that they are not going to update them. So if you buy, do so with the knowledge that these games absolutely will not work on any iOS version after iOS 10. You have been warned!

If you happen to be keeping a legacy device around that runs a lower iOS version, however, these deals are real steals. The games are great, and they're almost never as cheap as this anywhere. So, yeah. Fire sale? Fire sale. Have at it, friends.

Once more with feeling, these apps are all 32-bit. They will not run on iOS 11 and up, and they will not be updated. Slitherine is basically letting these go for a pittance because of that fact. They're very much upfront about that fact right in the app descriptions, so I think this is actually a pretty decent thing to do if they can't manage to do the best thing and, you know, update them. What do you all think about this approach for apps on their way out?

  • dancj

    There seem to be a few developers at the moment putting on sales for apps which will die with iOS 11 - and just not mentioning that fact in the description. It's disgusting behaviour and Apple really need to put big warnings on all apps which are still 32 bit.

    • Kahdmus

      Absolutely agree 110%

    • klink

      Right now Apple is 💩 on their customers.

    • dancj

      Ah. It looks like they've updated the description for at least some (maybe most - but not all) of the apps to state that they're 32 bit. If have no issue with them now (assuming they'll all have their descriptions updated).

      • Shaun Musgrave

        This was stated in the article. 😛

      • dancj

        I missed that. The app I looked at was Magnifico which doesn't mention it.

  • TheVimFuego

    Fair play for mentioning up front NOW but this could have been done
    MONTHs earlier. Devs have had fair warning for a while now. Slitherine used to be the benchmark for premium quality strategy games, how sad they have slipped.

    • DotComCTO

      I traded tweets with Slitherine some time ago. Their game engine can't be ported to 64-bit, or if it could, the cost in Dev & QA would be too high (with little payback). Any of their new iOS games will likely use the Unity engine. It freakin' sucks because I love their "old" games. Sadly, Apple is forcing this issue.

      • TheVimFuego

        As a (non games) dev I understand both sides. Apple wants to streamline their OS and move forward and some devs can't afford to sink $ into legacy apps that have been constrained by a design decision. Slitherine's case is particularly tough to swallow because they used to be the benchmark for quality strategy games now it appears they are veering to a more shallow standard. I guess I'll keep the iPad 2 around, not worth selling it. 🙂

      • gmattergames

        They could have just sold these at average premium price points (4.99ish) all along, and seen exponentially more sales/revenue that could have been leveraged back into support to keep their apps updated; the kind of thing you would expect of a respectable premium app/developer, especially at the prices they've been charging. Up front? I guess, but either way, will think twice before paying for their next over-priced/rated game.

  • Pedro Rama da Silva

    Will like to see if people get so "angry" at Slitherine as they got with the Xcom sale. I believe sales are good, but people should also be warned about that situation on the description. And that will fall on the Dev, not Apple. I don't know why game descriptions since 2015 don't have an item aying 32 or 64 bit, like they have developer's name, file size, etc,they should just put that. I mean Apple could obviously do that automatically, they have that info on their side, I think.

    • DotComCTO

      I've been shouting everywhere I can about Slitherine abandoning their 32-bit iOS apps - which weren't cheap! I had numerous back and forth "discussions" (tweets) with them.

      The TL;DR is that it isn't a simple task for Slitherine to move the Battle Academy engine (powers a lot of their older games) to 64-bit. It would require a total rewrite, and that means Dev + QA time/expense that they would probably never recoup.

      It totally sucks, but this is an 64-bit only apps is an issue that *Apple* is pushing. Devs didn't ask for this.

      P.S. 2K/Firaxis need to update their apps to 64-bit as well, otherwise X-Com, Ace Patrol, Pacific Skies, etc will go away. I've tried to reach out to them, but have never gotten a reply.

      • korossyl

        Which is odd, because Civ Rev 2 (32 bit) just went on sale and is now back to its full price. I can't imagine that they wouldn't update, but it's another reason (among so many!) that I won't update this time.

      • Mariko

        I'm thinking it was a "holiday sale" seeing as there are usually a few devs that will put some stuff on sale around when a holiday is.

  • Dr T

    Apple needs to remove or otherwise label the apps in the store. Still ticked about Square Enix putting FFT on sale knowing the game won't work in a few months.

  • Phoenix24

    I am not updating to iOS 11 on any of my devices. XCOM EU And EW, BA2, FFT, all my Cave games. Just too much to lose right now. 😡

    • DotComCTO

      I'm considering checking into whether my iPad 3 can be repaired. If so, that'll be my iOS 10 device for the 32-bit games. Really dumb that I'd have to keep TWO iPads just to play "old" games.

      • Sobriquet

        iPad 3 aka the new iPad will only update to iOS 9. I just set mine back up last week.

      • DotComCTO

        That's fine, too. 32-bit apps haven't seen an update in a couple of years because Apple cut off any update submissions for all of those apps!

  • Daniel Schroeder

    If they don't have the resources to update them, there's not a lot more anyone could expect. At least they're upfront about it. On the plus side, I don't think my iPad will ever get iOS11, so it could become a Slitherine preservation device. It will run the museum circuit in a few years.

    • dancj

      There is more I could expect. I could expect them to update their description to say that the apps will stop working when you update to iOS 11 rather than stealthily putting the games on sale to rip off a few more suckers.

      I'm letting Apple of though. They really shouldn't be letting people pay for 32 bit apps without giving them a warning up-front.

      • dancj

        *"I'm not letting Apple off"

  • collider

    What's Slitherine's story - why won't/can't they update? If I had to guess, they did everything in their own engine, and too much work to update...

    TLDR; No problem with them pulling the apps, but big problem with blaming Apple for their self inflicted wounds...

    OK - I looked on their forums... Some are their own engine, some are 3rd party devs that they don't even have the source code to. There is an awful lot of blaming Apple from Slitherine - but they seem to be completely ignoring the fact that Apple (and Microsoft, for that matter) have been moving toward 64 bit for many years. Apple is not pulling the rug out from under anyone - this has been a very long time coming, with plenty of warning. They are probably correct that updating their apps NOW makes no financial sense, but that's ignoring the fact that they could have been updating their engine and games for years. I distinctly remember being at an Apple dev conference in 2013 and sitting through a presentation on how to update your apps to 64 bit. Maybe that makes no financial sense either, but that's not the message they're sending on their forums. They're blaming Apple for moving the ball forward (as Apple does) rather than looking at their own long term decision making. This "apocalypse" is a surprise to exactly no one. Windows has also moved to 64 bit, so the x-platform excuse doesn't hold water either.

    • klink

      But Windows is maintaining 32-but legacy support and Apple isn't. I'm fine with Apple pulling it but they are profited from all these deprecated 32-bit app sales which doesn't sit right with me. The AppStore should at least warn customers that they won't work in iOS 11.

      • DotComCTO

        This.

        Apple is forcing 64-bit, not the devs. My best guess is that Apple will say that this change will make their iOS code more stable and require less Dev and QA work + less OS bloat...or something like that. However, Microsoft has been able to "figure it out" for decades. I don't buy that Apple - a company with ENORMOUS coffers - can't figure out a way to keep 32 & 64-bit apps working side by side on iOS (and this will soon happen on Mac OS, too).

        The move to 64-bit is not a surprise. Slitherine knew about it a long time ago - just like every other developer. The problem was that the Battle Academy engine that powers many of their "older" games can't be ported to 64-bit. Maybe it can, but it'd cost them a lot with very little payback.

        I'm REALLY unhappy about this situation!!

      • collider

        Windows is exactly why Apple should keep doing what they're doing. Bloating the os with backward compatibility is pure insanity, and a waste of everyone's money and time, not just Apple's. Do you really want an iOS that eats up your entire hard drive just so you can run a game or app that hasn't been updated in 15 years? This was Slitherine's decision way back when they developed their engine and didn't follow Apple guidelines. They 100% knew they were writing code that at some point would break. To blame this on Apple is disingenuous.

        I completely understand Slitherine's decision making here. But this is 100% Slitherine's doing, not Apples.

        Clearly marking the apps as 32 bit is a good move by Slitherine. I also agree that Apple should automatically be marking apps, or posting warnings when you hit the buy button in the store if they're not. (I haven't checked, or bought a 32 bit app lately - so I don't know what Apple is doing or not doing).

      • DotComCTO

        We can debate the pros and cons of continuing 32-bit support; however, I disagree with your comment on Slitherine's decision making when they developed the BA engine. The first Battle Academy game for iOS was released March, 2012 - which is *before* the introduction of the first 64-bit CPU to Apple's hardware lineup. Also, that engine was originally developed for PC and released in 2010, which means it was in development before that. I'm not sure your argument holds water.

        As for maintaining 32-bit support, we're just going to go around in circles. Let's agree that we both have our own position on the matter and leave it at that.

      • collider

        It doesn't matter when they started the engine - and I'm not just talking about 64 bit - ANY time you veer from Apple guidelines you will eventually have to pay the price. I guarantee there is more in their code than just 64 bit that needs updating. The second they sat down and decided to port BA to mac without future proofing (following Apple guidelines) was the second they doomed their engine. They knew this going into it. If it wasn't 64 bit, it would have been something else. They obviously know this, they've switched engines. Their choice has always been to carry those games as far as they can, then let them go. It's sad to see these games go, but not surprising, and certainly not Apple's fault.
        I've been an Apple developer since the late 80's - I've seen this same thing happen countless times (direct GPU calls were a big culprit, but we need our speed!). X-platform is hard, maintaining an x-platform engine that keeps up with the technologies on all platforms is super hard. There's a reason so many people use Unity/Unreal etc...

        In 10 years, 64 bit addressing will look like a joke. Nothing ever stands still.

      • DotComCTO

        Perhaps you're right. Neither of us have true insight into what went on behind the scenes. The end result is the same; many of Slitherine's great games will no longer work once iOS 11 is installed.

    • Dragan

      I totally agree.

  • HelperMonkey

    I enjoyed Battle Academy so much. It's really top notch.
    In fact, most of these are really high quality.
    Regardless of blame, it is depressing that these games will be allowed to die and essentially be tossed down the memory hole.

    • Far_Out

      I couldn't agree more. Spent quite a lot on some of their games, and it's depressing to see them just evaporate.

  • brianj22

    I think we should stop blaming Apple and instead blame the devs who are intentionally doing this knowing they have no plans to update. Apple could issue a warning but it's really these scum developers who are knowingly doing this. I say boycott any dev that won't update to 64 bit and that goes double for devs who set a sale on games that won't be updated.

    • ScotDamn

      You realize Slitherine develops games in hopes of a profit and not charity right? If it's too expensive for them to completely rebuild the game for little or no return than why would they?

      • brianj22

        That's true, it will be interesting to see how bricking their catalogue of games will work out for them profit wise.

      • bhayes444

        Probably about the same as spending all those games' future revenue updating it to 64-bit: still at zero income. They will literally be using their time to give 64-bit support to games, with the only benefit being appeasing players of those games on new versions of iOS. Instead of doing that they are deciding to use that time to make new software, to generate new revenue, and not have to deal with the headache of updating old IP. Sounds like a better plan to me, especially since the old games are still playable on older versions of iOS. It just sucks you need another device to play it on, but gaming has been that way for years with new consoles and old games.

    • ScotDamn

      And perhaps you missed he fact that they have updated the description in the store stating its 32 bit only and only compatible with 10?

  • brianj22

    And the we can't update our app because it would be too difficult excuse, please kindly walk into traffic with that one. People overcome enormous challenges every day so tell me it's too difficult to update your app, really? I reckon you just don't care much anymore and don't feel like putting in the money and effort.

  • Ag3ntP3ndergast

    If they're not going to work with future versions of iOS I think they should give the apps away for free.... IMHO otherwise you're paying for something that's only going to work until iOS 11 comes out.

    I also second what others have said: other developers need to warn people if their apps are staying 32 bit. At least slitherine is being upfront about it

  • Milotorou

    At least they are being upfront with it, if I was Slitherine i would most likely try a one-time cash flow before giving up

  • ptsohn

    Which Slitherine games will work on ios11?

    • DotComCTO

      I did some analysis on my own over a year ago. Here's the list of 32-bit apps from Slitherine (will not work once iOS 11 is installed):

      Battle Academy
      Battle Academy 2
      Hell
      Pike & Shot
      Commander The Great War
      Qvadriga
      History Egypt
      Great Battles Medieval
      Magnifico (formerly Da Vinci Art of War, IIRC)
      Conquest! Medieval Realms

  • ScotDamn

    Seeing all those wonderful games at those prices and what that means is quite...sad. A sad day indeed.

  • eugenemcardle

    Even Bards Tale has been updated to 64 bit. It's not fair to blame apple for being on top of the game. Slithering deserve a rap on the knuckles for this type of behaviour. But then, thats capitalism in the raw. SHAME ON YOU SLITHERING!

  • Sexy Pirate

    It's slitherines games and the likes which is the reason I'm not updating my iPad to ios11 anyway. I've collected to many fantastic games that would be doomed.

  • Nightxx

    I think its time for someone to setup a depository for iOS. Apple doesn't seem to care if apps disappeared from the AppStore. By the end of the day its making the same profit if not more from new apps coming in each day.