In Apple and Google’s race for mobile gaming dominance, who’s leading?

Both companies entice developers like Gameloft and EA with platform exclusivity and sweet positions on online store landing pages

The App Store showcased Cut The Rope 2 exclusively for three months, while Game Insight titles like Transport Empire had in-app purchases resembling Android's mascot.

The App Store showcased Cut The Rope 2 exclusively for three months, while Game Insight titles like Transport Empire had in-app purchases resembling Android’s mascot.

Much like how developers sign on to different first-party game publishers to create exclusive video game franchises for a new console (inFamous: Second Son for PS4, Forza 5 for the upcoming Xbox One, etc.), Apple and Google have been at this arms race for a while for their respective platforms.

The Wall Street Journal did a report on the exclusivity trend, where publishers like Gameloft and Electronic Arts are rewarded prominent app placements for their loyalty. Plants vs. Zombies 2 was released in August on iOS devices thanks to EA striking a deal with Apple where it was promoted heavily on the App Store. Furthermore, the game was given a two-month window of exclusivity for the title; the Android version wasn’t out until October. The sequel to the popular game Cut The Rope also was exclusive on Apple’s App Store for three months since December 2013 as both the company and developer ZeptoLab made a deal for store prominence.

On the flip side, Google struck deals with app makers that help integrate Android branding, like with app developer Game Insight. In this instance, it offered discounts on items shaped like Android’s robot mascot sold in its games. In response, Google features the company’s app in specific sections of its app store.

The kicker to all this is that these companies weren’t offered direct financial incentives by both platform bigwigs; top spot landing page placement is more than enough to give a game a huge sales boost. Of course, this means that the editorial process for handling apps has changed. The Apple team responsible for highlighted apps and games factored in title exclusivity “to a greater degree” thanks to Android gaining ground. The report said that nearly 80 per cent of the one billion smartphones shipped worldwide in 2013 used Android OS and development software.

With both huge players on the same level and still on this exclusivity idea, we, as app users and game players, will benefit from this. Competition equals to better and more innovative games for us to consume and be entertained with, even if it means picking one camp over the other.

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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