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iPhone Developers: How Do We Combat 'Race To 99c'?

Leading iPhone developers have been discussing the crowded state of the App Store as part of a Gamasutra feature, with Rolando's Simon Oliver suggesting
Leading iPhone developers have been discussing the crowded state of the App Store as part of a Gamasutra feature, with Rolando's Simon Oliver suggesting that high-budget games "are clearly going to struggle". Scoops and Textropolis developer Ian Marsh does think that Apple's open approach for its iPhone handheld basically works, saying, "Removing concept approval as Nintendo have done with the Wii opens the door for many serious developers with their original and unique ideas." Although he does caution that "it also opens the shovelware floodgates." With such an open agora, the fruits of success are plentiful for newcomers, but the laissez-faire game development has an ugly side, Marsh cautions -- and it appears to be shaping the economics of the App Store. "The simple fact is that if you look at the history of the App Store, the cheap simple content rules the roost. Top spots go to stuff like Koi Pond, iFart, and iShoot rather than epic role playing or simulation games," says iShoot creator Ethan Nicholas, who gave up his dayjob after the success of his title.. "It's difficult to sell even a $9.99 app on the iPhone, and the increasing perception of this has led to shovelware. This is having an unfortunate effect on the iPhone ecosystem, where 90% of the apps out there just plain suck," he concludes. Whack 'Em All maker James Bossert agrees: "It's a bit frustrating, really. Keeping things simple is good though, I think Ian does a fantastic job with his games in that respect, but hopefully the better apps will rise to the top and set an example." And yet that may be exactly the problem. "It's really interesting to me that at this point in time, Whack 'em All and Rolando are competing against each other. We never intended to compete with a game with the complexity, depth and production values of Rolando." To combat this race to ninety-nine cents, however, Simon Oliver, the creator of Rolando, contemplates bracketing off the Top 100s into separate dollar amounts: "The primary factor in sales and exposure is of course the top 100 list, and while the price cuts that people are willing to make to get into that list are understandable, they are definitely having a significant effect on the perceived value of Apps. High-budget games are clearly going to struggle on this platform." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the state of iPhone gaming, with plenty more commentary on the market from successful iPhone platform developers.

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