A Wall Street Journal report this morning notes that Apple and Google are now offering mobile game publishers highly-coveted placement within their app stores in exchange for exclusivity.
As a classic example, WSJ notes that Electronic Arts, the parent company of Seattle’s PopCap Games, made a deal with Apple to feature PopCap’s “Plants vs. Zombies 2″ prominently in the App Store so long as EA released the title on Apple’s platform three months before the Android version came out.
While this practice has been common in the console gaming industry for quite some time — see Titanfall (Xbox One, PC) or inFamous Second Son (PS4) for recent examples — it’s now happening more often in the mobile games space. This is certainly an interesting give-and-take relationship to watch, especially given the “arms race” between Apple and Google, in addition to the ultra-competitive mobile games landscape.
Interestingly, the practice has also changed how Apple’s editorial team decides which apps to feature among its top lists. WSJ reports that Apple employees are placing more importance on exclusivity and input from developer-relations staff when compiling those lists.
Even Amazon, which is ramping up its gaming efforts, is now offering premium placement for publishers to help attract more games to its Android-based Kindle family.
However, the big question is whether or not consumers will purchase an Apple, Android or Amazon device solely based on exclusive mobile games — will you really be more inclined to purchase an iPhone just because your favorite smartphone game is only on the App Store?