Gameloft hearts the App Store

Guess what? Some things are doing just fine in the App Store, thank you very much.

Gameloft's successful GTA clone is being followed by the actual GTA. Scott Stein/CNET

Well, it turns out that not everyone hates Apple's App Store. Gameloft, the ever-present publisher of mobile games worldwide, likes the iPhone and iPod Touch quite a bit. In a recent news release, Gameloft announced that, to date, it has sold more than 6 million games in the App Store, making it its biggest platform.

"Our core focus is digitally distributed games," said Sanette Chao, Director of Public Relations for Gameloft. "Apple is our number one customer and the IPhone OS is our number one platform. I think that alone speaks volumes to the importance of iPhone games to our overall strategy."

Amid concerns over Apple's restrictive handling of App Store certifications and the squeeze that other publishers might be feeling in a landscape of ever-decreasing game prices, this report might come as a breath of fresh air. Indeed, from a consumer standpoint, very little is wrong with the App Store--provided you simply don't want something that Apple isn't willing to provide. In the games department in particular, 10 dollars can buy you more than it can for nearly any other device in game console history. And with developers like Rockstar now getting in the Apple game with an upcoming App Store port of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars , clearly there's something in Apple's current economic model that's appealing to even the big guys.

That "something" might be seen as a huge built-in audience. With more than 40 million worldwide owners of the iPhone/iPod Touch platform, the consumer base is gigantic. Putting a title at $5 could lead to a larger profit than a $20 DS game, for instance, that might have limited distribution and availability. Gameloft has 35 games in the App Store at the moment, and while its current game best-sellers are UNO, GTA-clone Gangstar , and Madden rival NFL 2010 , it also enjoys evergreen success with Asphalt and Real Soccer, said Chao. This is the advantage that any online store has over physical media--infinite shelf space and the chance for a long tail.

According to Gameloft, the formula for success lies in listening to user feedback, creating low-priced titles, and creating mass-appeal, intuitive games. "Our strategy from the onset has been twofold. First we deliver an aggressive line-up of high quality games and then we adapt in real time to consumer needs," said CEO Michel Guillemot in Gameloft's Tuesday announcement.

The App Store market was recently estimated at $2.5 billion a year, as compared with $60 million for the Android app market. It's no surprise, then, that Rockstar would get in on this action. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the Nintendo DS sold 680,000 copies worldwide, and at $35 retail, that amounts to $23.8 million. Assuming a $10 retail price on iTunes, Chinatown Wars would have to sell 2.38 million copies to equal the Nintendo DS performance--a large number, but completely achievable considering the large global base and adult-skewed audience of the iPhone and iPod Touch.

While many things may be askew with the App Store, it's good to remember that a lot of things are still going very well for it.

Or is this still only mostly true for games?

 

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