GamesBeat: Discovery still seems like it’s a hard problem for a lot of developers, with so many competitors in the App Store. I’ve heard mixed things about whether the App Store is organized the right way for better discovery of games. How do you guys look at what your purpose is there?
Joswiak: That’s why the redesign of the App Store was so important, to make discovery of games and apps easier than before. As you know, games are the most popular category on the App Store. With the redesign, we created a dedicated home for games. There’s a tab on the bottom just for games, which has featured recommendations for new releases. It has updates. It has compelling videos, so you can see how things look. It has top charts just for games. The Today tab, which has been hugely popular in our redesign, has features and in-depth articles on all kinds of apps, including games. We’ve done a lot to help people have more reasons to go the App Store, to give them more and easier ways to discover great content.
GamesBeat: Do you foresee any other ways you can help developers?
Joswiak: We’re doing our best. We’ve been in the platform business for decades, and I think that also gives us an advantage over our competitors. We take developers as a key part of our business. There are more than 2 million apps in the App Store, and they’re quality apps. We curate. We don’t just let anything in. These are apps that have gone through review and give a much better experience than I think you find on other platforms. Games continue to be the most popular category, which is probably no surprise.
We’ve broadened the definition of what a gamer is these days. Gamers used to be people on their couch in front of a console, and that still exists, but we bring a much larger audience to gaming. Again, more than a billion active devices. Gamers don’t always look like they did in the past, and that’s exciting for our developers, because this is a much bigger audience that they can sell their products to. They can discover a game immediately on their device, download it, and start playing. It’s reshaped and redefined the industry.
GamesBeat: I’ve always thought of the game platforms in two ways. You have dedicated, intentional game platforms from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and then you have accidental game platforms like Google, Amazon, and Apple. I wonder how you guys look at that.
Joswiak: I don’t know if it’s accidental. It’s certainly the case that when we created the App Store and launched in 2008, I’d be lying if I said we knew it would get this big. But it became apparent pretty quickly that we were redefining the way that software would be created and distributed.
One thing we’re proud of is how we’ve leveled the playing field for developers. Back in the day, it was hard to get any kind of app published. You had to have connections. You had to get one of the big guys to publish your title. Very few applications made it to shelves, and the economics just weren’t very good. We changed that. Anybody with a great idea, little or big, can create an app and get it on the App Store, and if it’s great people will download it and use it. You take that for granted now, but it was revolutionary thinking in 2008, and it’s led to where we are today. I don’t know if it’s accidental, but it’s certainly evolved to become world-changing.
GamesBeat: I feel like the dividing line in mobile now between hardcore and casual games is different compared to PC and console. It’s pretty hard and fast on the PC and console side. You even have people angrily fighting over where the line is. But it doesn’t feel as crazy as that in mobile.
Joswiak: I think you’re right. Again, we’re serving such a large base of users, and they all have the same capability in their hands. You see people who can be both. One minute they’re playing a casual game and the next they’re enjoying something that’s deeper.
GamesBeat: Where do you observe different kinds of innovation happening in smartphone games?
Joswiak: The thing that comes most to mind is AR. We already have more than 2,000 apps taking advantage of AR. We’re progressing into ARKit 1.5 and 2.0 with more new features that our developers are excited about. We’ll continue progressing from there. And also seeing the emergence of full-fledged console games – not scaled down for the iPhone, but delivered just like they are on the console. It’s a breakthrough for gaming.
GamesBeat: Just this week, it’s interesting to see that Epic has the same version of Fortnite running on iOS as they do on the PC. It’s no different.
Joswiak: That’s a great example. In the past, maybe you’d see the smartphone have a companion app, a companion game, something part of the bigger game, or maybe a scaled-down version. Now, with the power we’ve delivered in products with the iPhone X and what we’re doing in iOS, that’s enabled developers to bring the full-fledged game to both iPhone and the console.
GamesBeat: Are you aware of anything that could disrupt your business, and if so, what are you doing about it?
Joswiak: We’re always trying to stay ahead of things. We’re doing pretty well at bringing some incredible technology to our consumers, both on the hardware and the software front. We’re doing a lot to ensure that the App Store continues to be the leading place for consumers to find titles.
That’s one thing that’s a kind of win-win-win. Our customers win when we do that sort of stuff, which is pretty obvious. Our developers win, because they’re in business to sell to customers, and we’re making it easy for customers to discover things. We monetize significantly better than the other platforms. And it goes without saying that we win in that case as well. Our hope is obviously to sell more iPhones. The whole thing has an upward trajectory, and again, this is something that makes us very different from any other platform. We’re excited about that.
GamesBeat: I’m curious how you look at the cloud and AI and edge computing. Where do you see some of that going as far as what games need and how the platform could change in terms of where computing is done?
Joswiak: It’s tough to talk about that far into the future. We certainly have some ideas for how to continue forging ahead, staying ahead of our competitors. But I don’t necessarily want to give them any insight into that.
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