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The App Store’s Dominance: Frustration in the Mobile Gaming Market

Web3 Gaming
March 1, 2023

As app stores continue to lead the mobile gaming industry, a decrease in consumer spending for the first time in history and poor customer service have caused considerable frustration among developers.

Here we look at some of the key pain points for developers currently looking to launch a game on one of the major app stores.

1. High Fees – Both Google and Apple have been criticized in the past for taking chunks out of app developers’ profits. For example, mobile game developers must hand over 30% of app sale revenue to Apple, as well as a yearly developer license fee. Elon Musk has dubbed this 30% charge ‘a tax on the internet‘ and compared Apple to a “highway robber” for its payment processing fees, which he believes to be too high.

This has also caused major issues with crypto-based apps, with Apple recently requesting 30% of Coinbase’s gas fees.

For popular IPs and communities that already have a large existing fan base and can generate a great deal of traffic for their game, the cost of these fees is often seen as unreasonable. With this in mind, Apple’s continues to face challenges worldwide.

These include:

The White House has even had its say on the matter, with Biden’s administration claiming the charges by Apple and Google “only hurts users and developers” in their Commerce Department report.

2. No Utility Allowed – Apple has recently banned the use of NFT functions in iOS apps, preventing developers from creating, trading, or distributing NFTs across their apps. This decision impacts the ability of developers to create and monetize apps for the iOS platform that contain NFTs, and may limit the growth of the NFT market and its ability to reach wider audiences.

Phillip Shoemaker, who originally crafted the App Store’s guidelines together with the late Steve Jobs, says that those guidelines have been rewritten since his departure—and in a way he believes is intentionally vague. This, he says, has given Apple the ability to function as a sort of gatekeeper.

By leveraging its control over the App Store, it has not only been able to prevent the emergence of a competitive platform, but also to maintain an arbitrarily harsh stance against crypto and NFTs specifically. “Apple had a problem with crypto from day one,” said Shoemaker.

3. App Store Optimisation (ASO) – According to a new report, Google is now testing to show advertised apps directly in the Play Store search. This new monetization strategy will compromise users’ ability to find the best choice of games. It is already difficult to make your game stand out and these new ads go against a non-partial ethos and will cause a greater lack of good organic discovery.

ASO is still the only key way to make sure your game is visible to the right audiences, increasing your chances of success, however Apple have also been accused of not playing fairly.

The European Commission has narrowed its antitrust investigation of Apple this week, focusing on the company’s rules for music streaming services. The Commission is investigating whether Apple is using its App Store algorithm to unfairly limit competition from rival music streaming services.

4. Customer Service – App store customer service can be a source of frustration for game developers. The long review process can take weeks or months and be opaque about why games are rejected or delayed, leaving developers without clear feedback.

Games can be removed without warning or explanation, making it difficult for developers to prepare for their app being removed or to address any issues that may have caused the removal. Developers are often left without a response when they try to contact Apple or Google with questions or problems, forcing them to rely on online forums and search engines to find answers.

A New Frontier?

In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in browser-based gaming due to the convenience, speed of access, and the ability to play through any internet-enabled device. According to TBRC, the global browser games market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 5% between 2020 and 2024 and will outperform the overall gaming market.

Many web3 games have also launched successfully recently without using an app store. These include titles such as Dookey DashIlluvium, and Blankos Block Party, each of which have seen tremendous success in their own right. By leveraging blockchain technology, these games are able to offer players a wide range of features and benefits that simply aren’t possible on traditional gaming platforms.


If you’re a game developer seeking an alternative to an app store, we’ve got you covered. Our upcoming articles will highlight the potential of web3 gaming, but not only that, we’ll show you why it should be fully decentralized and built from the ground up.

Get ready to see demos of the decentralized tools we are building to maximize your game’s impact with innovative monetization strategies, user experience remodeling, and new online distribution platforms. Plus, you’ll receive all the resources you need to make sure you’re set up for success!

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