Article re-posted from November 14, 2014
One of the big problems in todays appstores for mobile is the discovery process: how do I find what I like? There have been a number of automated processes which gather information and filter content for you, yet all that does is give you more of the same: its always running ‘after you’ never ‘in front of you’ if you know what I mean.
What makes it worse is that once you have a successful app, large ‘clone-companies’ make 30 variations of your app, upload them all across their networks, and end up ‘killing yours’: they don’t even need to design their own games, there’s hundreds of thousands of good games that failed because of exposure for them to pick from.
That’s not to say they all should have been successful, but it’s a sad day for appstores when noone really wants to invest in original high-quality content, unless they can spam tons of apps a month, have an enormous marketing budget, or monetize an existing cross-promotional setup to hurl their app through the masses.
The discovery process of the diamonds in between the dirt is extremely, and only limited to occasional ‘lottery-style’ success stories.
Another issue with appstores, is their content policies which, while I understand and respect given the stance of the company, seem to cater to large ‘grey areas’ while human interest can best be described as a large collection of niche-tastes, connected through occasional overlapping mainstream successes.
What I mean with that is that we each have our own specific taste, and right now, the appstores, both Apple and Google have a fundamental flaw in the way they feed and take responsibility for the content on their platform.
There’s an overarching content policy that aims to suit the needs of the largest group of people, minimizing potential bad publicity for the content vendor (in this case, Apple or Google) by removing or minimizing the exposure of content that ‘soccer-moms might not approve of’.
However, this content policy and strategy eliminates large chunks of the market and varying forms of entertainment.
For the ones skeptical, lets do a test, look at the selection of media below, and tell me if they’d be accepted or successful on the appstores of today (in game form of course). In addition, look at the production-budgets they got on TV/Film, and think if anyone would risk this on the appstore:
Now it is worth to note that many of these have ‘partner apps’ on the appstore, yet they are following Hollywood blockbusters and generally are censored as much as possible: the point is that a newcomer, the next Quentin Tarantino or Paul Verhoeve who like explicit content (yet in gaming of course), wouldn’t get his/her app through the content policy or get any serious exposure to warrant descent production values (it’d be labeled as too risky as casual is what sells -> note this isn’t the case for similar products on TV/Film!).
Both these problems are solved by the following:
Appstores tone down their content policy, limiting it to legal-limits, and instead of filtering themselves, curators step in who take responsibility in filtering and posting content. This works great for, Steam, who risked suffering a similar app-store fate due to the enormous influx of content, implemented a similar system:
Note that in my case, most of my Appstore discovery already comes from reading sites like ‘pocketgamer’ and several others who filter out the good apps for me. Why not make them curators and make things easy for people?
This formula has already been proven, as this innovation isn’t really originating from pc-gaming, it’s been running for decades on Television:
Your cable-company simply offers you a selection of channels you can purchase/hire/get in a package, and doesn’t interfere with the content. This lightens the curating load off the cable-company, and makes it so content-vendors separate from delivery platforms cater to their target audiences.
It’s a brilliant system as it finally manages to cater to the varying markets, creating a proper discovery process that works: my discovery process for television generally comes from varying online sources I trust and like reading, not some algorithm that’s trying to predict what I like.
Many people like Disney, and the ‘Disney Channel‘ is one of the best places to let your kids run free, especially since it’s also risk-free: how many parent’s have had their kids overspend in a kids-game that ‘seemed legit’ only turning out to be a micro-payment disaster?
Companies that ‘spam’ don’t get through the curators, who pick-by-hand, and so we’re back to creating original content, with good production values, for the specific curator (in TV/Film: channel) we’re pitching too.
The future is a separation of powers: Apple and Google should only have to care about their platforms success and delivery of the content, while leaving content-policy to a selection of ever-growing trusted curators.
If one of the curators approved something ‘illegal’ or ‘unethical’ they are responsible, which means curators will be strict as to to not lose their curator status.
The content-policies however, as long as they stay within the legalities of the target-country, are their own, and so adult-rated TV-shows with swearing, nudity, sex: explicit content, can serve the market they choose; and risk-takers aren’t inherently destroyed by the platform and it’s hungry-shark mega-companies who copy-paste a formula using 400x variations, counting on a strategy of spamming the app-stores to ‘beat the automated system’.
Something like this, but pretty of course :P