The Wall Street Journal is getting a lot of attention for a report documenting how Apple and Google are wooing developers in an effort to gain temporary exclusive rights to games. The companies are offering marketing space in their app stores to promote games that are released on their respective operating systems first, the Journal reported, creating a window of several weeks before the games are released on the rival’s platform. The piece said Electronic Arts and ZeptoLabs are among the developers who’ve recently released titles on iOS two or three months before releasing versions for Android; their games “were promoted in a large box at the top of the App Store’s home page.”
Such deals can be a big advantage for developers of popular franchises, of course, because they can help generate buzz and drive downloads before games are released on the other platform. But those marketing efforts won’t be extended to developers who have yet to create a hit. I’m skeptical that many consumers actually choose phones and operating systems based on specific games, so windows of exclusivity may not be much of a weapon for Apple and Google. If we see more of these deals, though, it will make it that much tougher for those smaller developers to attract attention to their games in the App Store and Google Play.