Phone giants Apple(s aapl) and Google(s goog) are striking deals with companies that make popular mobile games, offering them coveted marketing space in their app stores in exchange for the game maker offering early releases on the iOS or Android platforms.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the push to obtain a window of exclusivity resembles what occurs in the world of console-based video games, where platforms like X-Box reward game makers for exclusive distribution. In the case of mobile games, including a sequel to “Cut the Rope,” which was released on iOS in December and on Android in March, this reward comes in the form of app store promotions, which can dramatically boost downloads:
The company and Apple agreed to about a three-month window of exclusivity for Apple’s App Store, in exchange for the store prominently promoting the game […] Prominent display in an app marketplace can produce as much as a tenfold spike in daily downloads, depending on the location of associated banner ads and how long a promotion runs
Apple reportedly does not offer cash incentives for exclusivity, but only marketing support.
The fight for exclusivity comes at a time that Android continues to grow in popularity, and when it has become easier for developers to make games and other apps for Google’s platform. For Apple, the decision to promote games in return for exclusivity represents a change to its longtime policy under which an editorial team would choose apps to promote without taking business decisions into account.
The Journal reports that Amazon(s amzn) and Microsoft(s msft), which are much smaller players in the mobile hardware market, are likewise offerings promotions to mobile game makers in exchange for a window of exclusivity.
The article also cites a study that says $16 billion was spent on apps last year, and that 70 percent of that went to games.While games are very popular, there is no indication yet that they are enough of a factor to persuade a consumer to switch from one mobile platform to another.