iPad IGN Editorial: The Abuse of Updates

Discussion in 'iPhone and iPad Games' started by WolfgangK, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. WolfgangK

    WolfgangK Active Member

    Nov 10, 2008
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    #1 WolfgangK, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
    IGN Editorial: The Abuse of Updates

    IGN put up an editorial today about the state of app updating on the App Store. On the whole, I have to agree with their premise. The update system is abused too often, and we're asked to trust devs with our money in many cases. There are certainly developers who reward that trust with great updates, fixes, etc.

    I do believe, that if Apple is going to push the iPhone platform, as a platform to compete with the other mobile game consoles...they are going to need to find some balance to the indie-dev environment they've created, with a level of quality assurance with regard to what you're buying. Some developers are investing time into testing their apps and releasing complete products, while others are not.

    It's really a big question right now as to how Apple can encourage developers to release completed products vs. beta products promising fixes and upgrades. And then what constitutes a complete product? I don't know what the answers are, but I do know Apple will need to figure out the answers if they want to go toe-to-toe with the DS and PSP.

    In some places, and with certain apps, they are already competing on that level. We have indie developers who approach their wares with the responsibility and quality of a larger publisher/dev...and then you have both large and indie devs rushing products to market before they're really ready.

    I know personally, I've become much more prudent in resisting the urge to purchase apps when they're first released because of price integrity, and quality issues. And there are certain developers who you can see emerging who have earned that trust, and many who have yet to do so.

    I hope that Apple can continue to foster this indie environment of development, but find a way to hold all apps more accountable regarding the quality of their product. The App Store and iPhone platform, are still very young, and it does seem with time, some of these issues are getting ironed out...but I think there's really a long way to go and this article hits on that pretty squarely.

    p.s. I should say, other consoles are not immune to these same problems, unfinished or buggy products that require updates and fixes. But I think the level of ease with which anyone can publish an app, lends itself to creating a greater problem on this particular platform. Sony/Nintendo/MS(Xbox) retain a much tighter testing an approval certification for any wares published to their respective platforms. One could argue, that the iPhone platform, is really no different than publishing something on the Mac platform, from freeware, shareware, to packaged software. All a matter of perspective I guess as to the nature, and intentions of the iPhone platform.
     
  2. apple would have to hold these companies accountable... something they are not likely to do
     
  3. Hippieman

    Hippieman Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Senior Producer, Designer
    San Francisco
    It's a cute article, but just another journalist spouting off about whatever.

    In reality you need to look at the bottom line.

    You want to X amount of features into a game. Those will cost you Y dollars (either in time costs of not being first to market, or dev time or both).

    So, Y-X=N. N is the amount of money you think you will get, based on predictions and pricing. If N is negative you will go broke. If N is positive you will have a successful product.

    But the App store offers a way around this time old issue. Chop X up into smaller bits. Then release with Y-.5X=N. Then if N is great enough, you can add back more of the X features you had to cut.

    The iPhone is foreign territory, what is a success in some markets is a flop on the iPhone. Testing the waters with features removed is a sane and market safe approach. If the game is a hit, you can add more in, and also get feedback.

    None of this is to defend truly broken apps. But in the case of Fieldrunners, they had no way to know they would get such success. And there is nothing wrong with them adding in what some people would consider are features that should of been present from day 1.
     
  4. Angel Summoner

    Dec 15, 2008
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    If I understand it correctly, every single app has to be submitted to Apple so they can assess it. If a game is broken, or not finished, then Apple should not allow it onto itunes for sale until the developer has fixed any problems. The question remains, why do these apps get through in the first place?
     
  5. VeganTnT

    VeganTnT Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jul 19, 2008
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    Freelance Entertainment Analyst
    Orlando, FL
    +1

    Logic backed up with math FTW!
     
  6. nizy

    nizy Well-Known Member

    The purpose of the approval process as I understand it is not quality control but to ensure malicious code, illegal content etc doesn't end up on the app store. I would assume that Apple's process is automated and they have some code that checks for malware and the like. They don't spend hours/weeks playing games, using apps just to find bugs! That the developers job - or their beta testers!!!
     
  7. The Lab

    The Lab Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2008
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    Entrepreneur
    Utah
    I see the argument but here are somethings I'd like to present to it.

    The update system is great cause I'm not aware of other games (not looking into downloading songs for Guitar Heroes, expansion packs for World of Warcraft, etc.) that will add to the game, fix the game, and change it up for the holiday season (example TouchSports Tennis 09)

    I understand the money issue but in the end I feel we mostly do get our moneys worth on the games we purchase. They get updated, fixed, and the developers listen to our complaints.

    I don't feel hurt by the promised updates... but again this whole system is new the app store has only been around for less than a year... and its doing great!
     
  8. Herp

    Herp Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2008
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    Coram, New York
    Agreed.
     
  9. moopf

    moopf Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2008
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    Hippieman, although I can't fault your math, I think what you're referring to is the removal of features, rather than features that are just plain broken, which should never factor into the calculation you've presented. Unfortunately the app store is full of such failures, and I've been saying for months that devs should not be releasing half-assed code and making people buy pre-release quality. In a lot of cases not even beta quality. Or, indeed, any quality.

    The original article is spot on and I'm glad somebody in the more visible online press has said it. Releases that just don't work, don't do as advertise or don't offer a polished first iteration make it more difficult for the devs that do because customers just get tired on paying for something that should never have seen the light of day without considerable further work.

    I'm glad you picked up on Fieldrunners as well. Fieldrunners lacked some things that most people would consider basic, like sound effects. But it got away with it for one very good reason - what was there in the first iteration was polished, playable, well produced and fun. You can do the maths and remove features, and as long as what you do present in the first instance is well done and worth the customer paying for it, it won't count negatively.

    PS. Hello all, haven't been here in a while. Had to put iPhone dev on the back burner for a while, what with the way the world is at the moment. Have to spend time on my bread and butter.
     
  10. Midnight Status

    Midnight Status Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    #10 Midnight Status, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
    The update system is what makes the iPlatform a viable system for everyone. The name brand developers & publishers usually find success with their apps in the first week. Smaller developers need time on the market to gain recognition and improve the quality of their apps. The best thing about this setup is that these games become more like services than products and they cost almost nothing.

    Case in point: Dropship vs. BiiPlane

    It took Dropship a single day to break into the top 50 while BiiPlane took sometime to do it. Now the small developer behind BiiPlane has an app which is sitting right next to Dropship in the top 10 (Simulation Games). Ngmoco ; ) is funded by the iFund and run by a former EA executive. They've obviously got many more resources at their disposal so their version 1.0 was more polished than BiiPlane's first version but through the updates system a small but determined developer can find success too.

    This system is what allows for cheap prices as well. If you want to pay $20 - $60 per game go right ahead. All you get are fewer experiences for more money and less innovation. In addition to that you get a very volatile system for game developers to work in. The iPlatform is a win, win, win across the board.
     
  11. accidental

    accidental Member

    Dec 3, 2008
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    Another thing to consider is that most devs value their review scores. When devs release a broken unfinished game with the intention of fixing it later, after they're got some money from the poor suckers who bought the broken build, those poor suckers badly rate the game (both users in the App Store and online critics such as IGN).
    Too bad when they've released version 1.1 and fixed the problems, those reviews still stand and most users won't know that they've been rating an earlier build, and just shy away from buying the 'fixed' version.

    If anyone here downloads a broken game, SAY SO. Rate it as broken, or unfinished. Soon devs will get the message, and hopefully it won't be worth the risk anymore to damage a game's reputation before they've even finished it.
     
  12. Angel Summoner

    Dec 15, 2008
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    Thanks Nizy, doesn't sound like such a great job after all! :D
     
  13. aghartastudio

    aghartastudio Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2008
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    Game designer/ director
    Lyon, France
    #13 aghartastudio, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
    They should focus on making accurate reviews as well ,instead of killing the sales of some of the devs who did efforts to make large scale game as well.

    Especially since we fixed every black hole they pointed out to destroy our game within 15 days.


    Yes I'm mad about IGN ;(
     
  14. moopf

    moopf Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2008
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    Is what the person who wrote the editorial saying not true? If not, in what way isn't it true?
     
  15. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    I disagree.

    The low pricing scheme is keeping both the scope and the quality of the games low, distorting the customers' perception of the value of software, and forcing developers to release skeleton apps.

    If developers could be certain that the customers were willing to pay $20-$60 for their games, it would be possible to could calculate a totally different business case where a bigger team is working for months or even a year on a game with a totally different scope. Right now most of the iPhone games are gimmicks. Some of them are very well implemented gimmicks despite the short development times, but there's a world of difference between, say, a retail PSP game and a regular iPhone game. (Mind you, Gameloft has done a nice job with Sparta.)

    No amount of updates is going to grow an indie 'ringtone app' into an AAA title. And no amount of success with $0.99 titles is going to make a developer decide to do a $9.99 app instead.
     
  16. accidental

    accidental Member

    Dec 3, 2008
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    This is something that I'm finding difficult about the iPhone/iTouch platform at the moment. There is no real standard of opinion on what the expectations are for the games.

    IGN rated Asphalt 4 really highly (and so did many of you here) but I think it's extremely average. Sure, compared to other iPhone games it's fully featured and the graphics are good. But the gameplay is TERRIBLE. The steering is so assisted it feels like a 16-bit Outrun title. The boost does nothing. The crash animations and collision detection are shocking. The differences between the race modes are cosmetic at best.

    I think that the games need to be rated more harshly TBH. Many iPhone game reviewers are seasoned 'wireless/mobile' game reviewers and they have much lower standards for their platforms. The iPhone is pitching itself higher than this, and I think we should expect more.
     
  17. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    While I agree with that as a gamer, I weep at the thought as a developer. There's no way a $1-$5 game should be compared to a console title with a ten-fold development budget.
     
  18. accidental

    accidental Member

    Dec 3, 2008
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    You're right. I just think that the quality of most games on the iPhone is average to poor, but they don't seem to be rated as such. Especially games like Asphalt 4, which should be rated according to the same standards as PSP titles, but they're not. Yes, they're cheaper games on the iPhone, but so what? That isn't an excuse for a bad game.

    Excuse the weak analogy:
    Cheap chocolates taste average. It's excusable because they're cheap to buy, but they're not critically acclaimed. Expensive chocolates taste amazing, but that's because they're expensive. However, as a chocolate experience it's top-notch.
     
  19. nizy

    nizy Well-Known Member

    Spot on mate, as the saying goes: "You get what you pay for"!
     
  20. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    I won't comment on Asphalt as such, but the important distinction to make is between scope and quality. For $0.99 a consumer really shouldn't expect either, but with the App Store the way it is right now, there is reason to expect the latter.

    This goes with developers as well. There's no point making a large game and not having the resources to polish it. Instead, the focus should be on doing just one thing well, and being good at doing it.

    However, the problem with the current marketplace from an indie perspective is that the bar for expectations is being manipulated with venture capital. Hungry publishers undercut the value of their applications to gain market share. There are games in the Top Apps charts that are sold for $0.99 that are not expected to make profit. This is done intentionally to smoke out those who can't sell their games at a loss (i.e. indies).

    So, currently buyers get more than they pay for. It's business as usual of course, but it does make the App Store an unfriendlier place for start-ups in the long run.
     

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