So developer relations with the iPhone and App Store has had its ups and downs (or ‘Apps and Downs’, ho ho).
As we prove in our comprehensive list of facts and figures about the device and its distribution method, most of it has been up. That positive up swing has brought with it wave after wave of praise – and criticism.
Here, we run through some of the key quotes that helped define and at times undermine, Apple’s encroachment into video games…
"Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once — provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous, and since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target. We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones."
– Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an official blog post. The news came after months of back and forth between Apple and the homebrew community that kept releasing ‘jailbreak’ updates that would unlock the iPhone to unofficial third party applications. (October 17th, 2007)
"My instinct is, the type of games that will make people want to buy more iPhones or more devices of that class are the types of things that really showcase the capabilities and bring what we know as game designers together with what Apple has delivered as a platform to create compelling and exciting new experiences."
– Neil Young, founder of iPhone games publisher ng:moco – the self-declared ‘first party’ game maker for the platform – outlines how developers will best succeed on the device (June 2008)
"We wanted to do something for the iPhone, but we just didn’t have the scheduling or the resources available. I really regret not having something at launch. We have a title we want to develop exclusively for iPhone. I’m not announcing anything specifically, but it would be a graphical tour de force."
– id founder and Doom creator John Carmack pouts a bit, and teases a bit. Clearly, the iPhone’s tiny processor had excited the man usually obsessed with high-end rendering (July 2008)
"We’ve already seen enormous interest in the iPhone within the Torque community. Game developers want to make games for the iPhone and this is a natural step since we’re already a very good choice for developing OSX games. Apple has been great to work with in the past and the very polished iTunes Store as a marketplace for games should encourage developers to continue pushing boundaries on the iPhone without worrying about the usual publishing and distribution difficulties involved in making a successful mobile game."
– In July 2008 Brett Seyler, GarageGames’ VP of business development, summed up in that last sentence exactly why so many have turned to iPhone. And since GarageGames’ move, lots of technology companies have started offering tools for the format, including Unity.
"I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software."
– Never one to shy away from hyperbole, Steve Jobs steps the message up a gear when it became apparent in August 2008 that the App Store was a roaring success before it was even a month old.
"We are seeing a lot of similar reports from various developers whose applications were abruptly removed and banned from the App Store without any violations of the terms of service. This is unfortunate news for iPhone end-users."
– Not the first to talk about it, but connectivity application firm Nullriver Software was the most succinct: despite all the positive spin, there is a darker side to the App Store – mainly that Apple reserves the right to reject any apps submitted for iTunes distribution. (September 2008)
"Treating developers capriciously is most certainly going to discourage them from spending nights and weekends working on new and useful applications that may give more people reasons to buy an iPhone."
– The New York Times sums up exactly why Apple’s inscrutable approval process could harm the iPhone. (September 2008)
“Do I want to be spending six months to write the game, and another six months making it compatible? If I had Trism available for Android, and there are 50 Android devices and every time one of them crashes (the users) contact me, do I want that?”
– Some developers were grumbling – but not Trism creator Steve Demeter. Another emphatic convert (as the quote shows), his game had netted him $250,000 in revenue in the first three months’ of the App Store’s launch.
"The iPhone gaming environment opens a new era in mobile gaming and is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. The Apple iPhone has changed the way consumers perceive and interact with their mobile phones, and the release of the SDK is a tremendous opportunity for Gameloft to apply its creative and innovative approach to mobile gaming."
– Michel Guillemot, president of Gameloft, wasn’t the first (or the last) to brand the iPhone’s arrival as some dramatic moment in history. But you keen see why it’s excited. It’s 30+ games one the store have sold well over 2m units on the App Store. (October 2008)
"We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software. We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others. However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released."
– In a rare moment of breaking its silence on the rules and regulations controlling developer relations for the App Store, Apple modified its contract with developers in October 2008.
"We’ve reviewed nin: access and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store at this time because it contains objectionable content which is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states: Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."
– NDA be damned, said Nine Inch Nails’ front man Trent Reznor, who published the rejection letter for his app on the web in May 2009. He added…
"Thanks Apple for the clear description of the problem – as in, what do you want us to change to get past your stupid fucking standards? And while we’re at it, I’ll voice the same issue I had with Wal-Mart years ago, which is a matter of consistency and hypocrisy. Wal-Mart went on a rampage years ago insisting all music they carry be censored of all profanity and "clean" versions be made for them to carry. Bands (including Nirvana) tripped over themselves editing out words, changing album art, etc to meet Wal-Mart’s standards of decency – because Wal-Mart sells a lot of records. NIN refused, and you’ll notice a pretty empty NIN section at any Wal-Mart. My reasoning was this: I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any "indecent" material for sale – but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film Scarface completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense? You can buy The Downward Fucking Spiral on iTunes, but you can’t allow an iPhone app that may have a song with a bad word somewhere in it. Geez, what if someone in the forum in our app says FUCK or CUNT? I suppose that also falls into indecent material. Hey Apple, I just got some SPAM about fucking hot asian teens THROUGH YOUR MAIL PROGRAM. I just saw two guys having explicit anal sex right there in Safari! On my iPhone! Come on Apple, think your policies through and for fuck’s sake get your app approval scenario together."
– Reznor’s uncensored fury (well, he wouldn’t be pleased if we took out the swears, eh?). Days later, Apple reversed its decision and allowed his app on the Store, but maintained that its decision on what is and isn’t published ‘is not something we comment on’.
"It’s a big change from mobile. Of course the biggest change from mobile is that there’s just one platform. Hurrah! On mobile you have to design and adjust the game to work with a range of screen sizes, memory limits, button layouts and processor speeds. On iPhone you can focus on making the game a good as possible to play on that one device. I think there will be a lot more unusual and creative games on iPhone that possibly wouldn’t have got the prominence on mobile."
– Writing for our sister site CasualGaming.biz, Tin Raven’s Niall Fraser outlines the iPhone’s advantages over other forms of mobile gaming in February 2009.
"I had an analyst tell me in September – and he was so right – that the DS is the past of gaming devices, and that the iPod Touch is the future of gaming devices. It certainly has our competitors scrambling in what they’re going to do in reaction to this. I think it’s a tremendous start that we’re having at entering this gaming market, and there’s no doubt that that’s happening – it just is. [iPhone] represents a more future-looking view of gaming, so maybe it’s in a category of its own. There’s nothing else that does what it does."
– Apple is no stranger to chest-beating, but it rarely talks about this competition. In this interview with Develop from early 2009, Greg Joswiak, head of iPhone and iPod marketing, went on the record to underline the firm’s commitment to games – and how it planned to undermine the competition.
"The pros to Apple’s system are that you can turn a game round quickly and release it quickly. The cons are that you have no control over when the game comes out and, due to the ease of making software, there is a flood of apps coming to market making the it hard to get noticed. I feel that this flood is lowering the quality benchmark, which in the end makes it unlikely you will easily be able to recoup costs."
– Nnooo’s Nic Watt confesses to Develop in March 2009 about another dark side to the App Store – that of sheer quantity over quality.
"All of us at Nintendo applaud any device that spurs interest in on-the-go gaming, because that helps expand a form of entertainment that has always been one of our core strengths. [In 2008[ consumers purchased 9.9m DS hardware systems in the United States, an all-time record for a portable system. On top of that they bought nearly 60m games for Nintendo DS. Clearly people are still finding fun and interesting ways to spend their time with the system."
– Nintendo’s vice president of corporate affairs Denise Kaigler says the iPhone is no threat to its business in March 2009. However…
"Nintendo is keen to have developers offering all kinds of software once the DSi store fully launches for access in Europe and America. Given the advanced functions in the DSi, such as the microphone and camera, the company told us that there are a variety of opportunities for a variety of apps, both in a games sense and a non-games sense, that we could offer."
– One development source tells us just days after Kaigler’s comments that Nintendo has in fact moved to remind developers that its new DSi handheld can also home to a variety of apps at a behind-closed-doors developer conference.
"[The arrival of the iPhone was] as important as the introduction of VHS or the NES. As a games machine this device was so much better than anything else that has come before it. It enables handheld console quality and frictionless distribution – it’s better than the DS and PSP because it is connected, you have a direct relationship with customers. Apple have trained 30m people to download and and install applications on their phone where ever they are. It is an amazing process we are witnessing. The iPhone has changed game making – and you have to respect and embrace this new lifecycle."
– Neil Young again, this time talking up the device’s strengths in his GDC Mobile keynote in March 2009
“I love the iPhone. It’s a real game platform, not a tiny little toy. If you look at it in raw hardware horsepower, the iPhone should be better in performance than the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable. But the truth is, you can’t exploit it all because of software inefficiencies.”
– And that one’s Carmack again, whose ‘pet project’ Doom Resurrection – developed under his auspices by a very small team of coders and released in June 2009 – finally realised his plans to make a platform defining game for iPhone.