Posts Tagged comics
Are you angry about the new Comixology app, which removes the ability to buy comics from inside the app itself? If so, you should be just as angry at Apple for their policies making such an absurd situation, where an app can offer the ability to consume the content it sells without actually selling it, as much as you are at Comixology/Amazon for inconveniencing you.
The economics for the change are clear: they were giving 30% of every sale to Apple, as per App Store policies. That’s the way it’s been since the App Store opened – every time money changes hands, Apple takes its 30% cut. When in-app purchases were introduced, Apple kept the rate per transaction the same: 30% on everything. Thus, when Comixology sold a comic for $3.99, they only got ~$2.80 from it, for a book they had to sell for the same price on their site, by Apple policies.
It’s likely that this 30% cut hurt Comixology’s bottom line – they are beholden to a number of outside forces and right holders for the comics they sell – and the move to Amazon apparently provided them the opportunity to change their selling model.
So, that 30% fee on transactions that Apple takes is problematically high. Certainly, it can be justified for paid apps: Apple provides approval, storage, bandwidth, tax collection, and a variety of services beyond just taking the money, in order to justify taking such a cut of a developer’s revenue.
But for in-app purchases, Apple is serving as little more than a payment processor, though they do track whether non-consumable IAP is owned by the user. And 30% is exorbitantly high for payment processing. PayPal merchant fees are 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. Amazon charges the same for transactions $10 or above, with a 5% + $0.05 per order for smaller transactions. These aren’t counting the bulk volume discounts that these processors provide.
You could go to your local comics shop or to a vendor at a convention, and using a Square credit card reader, they can sell you that comic at a 2.75% per swipe fee. So what right does Apple have to be taking 30% on a similar transaction? I think they should be allowed to take a reasonable premium on top of payment processing for the App Store services they provide, but it’s clear that 30% is unreasonable, especially for low-margin fields like the sale of music, movies, and comic books.
And because Apple specifically restricts outside payment systems, there’s no recourse for anyone who wants to offer media or subscription services through an app but to not sell said services in the app itself. It’s why you can’t buy a Netflix, Spotify, or Dropbox subscription from inside their apps at all – because Apple can’t take their steep tax.
Why would Apple, a seemingly pro-consumer company in the way that they design their products to be easy to use, do this? Well, they’re not actually a pro-consumer company. They’re a pro-Apple-consumer company. Everything they do is designed explicitly to get you to stay with Apple products. Ever thought about getting an Android or Windows Phone but decided not to because you didn’t want to lose iMessage? Exactly.
Remember that Apple sells music, video, and books of their own (though not comics to the scale that Comixology does); they have a weighted incentive to make it hard for outside sources to provide them on the App Store unless they pay the exorbitant 30% fee. And when people are inconvenienced by app makers because of Apple’s policies they get mad at the app maker, not Apple, which has to cause a chill to run up the spine of anyone struggling with a similar decision as Comixology.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Google has a similar setup with in-app purchases where they take 30% of every transaction, but they provide alternatives. Specifically, they have a policy that enables Comixology to still sell comics through their app through their own payment system: “Developers offering additional content, services or functionality within another category of app downloaded from Google Play must use Google Play’s in-app billing service as the method of payment, except: where payment is for digital content or goods that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g., buying songs that can be played on other music players).”
Thus, Android Comixology users can still buy comics through the app. Those who relied on Google Play credit to buy books will find themselves out of luck. Of course, Google doesn’t have a monopoly over content distribution or an interest on keeping people as tied to Google Play and their own services, but it’s still a better way to operate than the monopolistic way that Apple does. The 30% payment processor fee for in-app purchases is still on the exorbitant side, but the nature of it is a lot more fair.
So, what Apple ultimately has is a situation that’s meant to give off the illusion of consumer-friendliness by making it only possible to spend money through iTunes accounts, when it really restricts the freedom that people have to get the content they want, where they want it from.
If a solution that’s actually friendly to users (and not just to those who buy in to the Apple system) is to happen, it’s going to require public pressure. They could enact the exact same policy that Google Play has, for one. This same policy is the one that allows Starbucks to allow for store credit refills through direct credit card or PayPal payments. It just needs to be expanded to cross-platform media so that users don’t get left out in the cold, or compelled to buy from Apple’s stores. Give them actual choice.
Or Apple needs to make their tax on in-app purchases – these purely digital transactions – a smaller fee, in order for it to be viable for sellers in high-margin transactions involving media. Somewhere from 5 to 10% may be more reasonable than the current 30%. Whatever the solution I believe change needs to happen, because right now, the ultimate loser from Apple policies are ordinary people who have had convenience taken away from them because of corporate politics.
Comic book purists who like their comics bagged, boarded, and boxed may disapprove, but there’s no doubt that digital comics have revitalized the comic book industry these last few years as more and more people embrace the platform on their tablets. Below are just a few of the ways and reasons to go digital this year.
Where better to begin than with the biggest comic book store on iOS: Comixology. Featuring titles from DC and Marvel (sharing content from their respective apps), Valiant, Image, and a plethora of indie publishers – their thoughtful collections, frequent discounts, and generous giveaways are a great avenue for discovering new series and lesser-known works. Digital format is also often the only way to read out-of-print comic books or issues that would cost a fortune to purchase from online merchants.
Comics have often been thought of as a perfect medium between literature and cinema, and Comixology’s Guided View technology only strengthens that idea. Delivering the content in a frame-by-frame format not only makes reading possible on smaller devices, but really builds suspense unlike anything comic readers will have previously experienced. Especially since there is no opportunity to have a cheeky peek at those bottom-of-the-page spoil-the-surprise panels.
Continue reading 148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up – The Dynamic Duo of Digital Comics and iOS »
Expert App Reviewers
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
Death is a very common thread in gaming, though admittedly in most cases it is being used as a motivating factor that the player wants to avoid. In the freshly ported iOS version of Skulls of the Shogun, the focus is actually on what happens after the main character has left the land of the living. General Akamoto and his ragtag group of hoodlums are trying to fight their way to the proverbial pearly gates, one decapitation at a time. Naturally they face quite the uphill struggle, with plenty of amusing shenanigans along the way. –Blake Grundman
Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a game that’s appropriately multi-faceted: it encompasses multiple types of gameplay in its quest for pirate action in the Caribbean seas around the time of Assassin’s Creed IV. It’s a game with plenty to do and offers fun looting and boat-sinking times, it’s just structurally sub-optimal. There are two main parts to the game: sailing and combat. Sailing takes place in two different environments: a top-down map view that allows for just drawing lines to get around, and an “immersive” view where players can actually steer the ship, raise or lower the sails to control their speed, find random items to pick up, and challenging neutral ships that they cross. This is more fun, just more time-consuming. Certain missions require a certain view: race missions require immersive view while assassination missions which require stealth to sail past ship patrols use the top-down view. –Carter Dotson
Offering fairly powerful mapping features tied into Google Maps, Maps Pro with Google Maps is the kind of app that regular travellers are going to want to keep on their iPads for future reference. So much simpler and more intuitive to use than the website, it’s a very handy tool. Even better, it hardly needs learning. That’s how easy it is to figure out. Immediately placing a pin on the user’s current location, everything about Maps Pro with Google Maps is easily laid out. The opening page offers up directions, sharing, street view, settings, and a search bar. –Jennifer Allen
PDF Expert 5 isn’t an update to the already popular app, but is instead a newly redesigned package that provides iPad users with more features. It handles everything about a PDF – like reading, annotating, and editing. The app was just released this week and its fresh and sleek design make it a perfect fit for iOS 7. Whether users are familiar with previous versions or are just trying it out for the first time, it’s clear that the new features help to make navigation easier. For starters, there is a new PDF viewer that allows users to open large files, search through text, extract text from PDFs, and even open password-protected documents. There’s plenty of room to view PDFs thanks to full screen annotations and the smart zoom option that help users make notes and draw with ease. –Angela LaFollette
Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure is a terrific universal puzzle adventure app for all ages, adapting the richly detailed illustrations of Roxie Munro’s previous puzzle app, Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure, into a jigsaw puzzle that players of all abilities will enjoy. This app consists of a colorful, stylized, and magnificently drawn landscape that is then broken up into 16 different smaller puzzles. I appreciate how up to five players use this app and their game will be saved independently, and how players can choose to break these individual puzzles into a number of puzzle pieces ranging from six chunky pieces to 260 small pieces on the iPad and 130 pieces on the iPhone, giving young children as well as seasoned adults a chance to enjoy this app equally. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
In Banana Kong, the players can learn an important lesson: eventually, your possessions and greed turn on you. And the more things you get, the harder they will fall on your head, and no matter how long you run, they will eventually bury you. Unless you have a hog you can ride on. This is where the analogy kind of falls apart for me. –Tony Kuzmin
There’s no point beating about the bush when talking about Dream of Pixels. It’s Tetris but with a twist. There’s no other way to explain it. Dream of Pixels is a puzzle game where you have to place familiar look shapes onto the screen. Unlike the game it clearly derives from, these shapes don’t drop down from the top of the screen, so there’s no need to shift your shapes from left to right before they hit the bottom. Instead, Dream of Pixels slowly (at first) scrolls the entire screen upwards. Your job is to ensure that no empty spaces make their way to the bottom of the screen. This means you need to use your shapes to ensure that each line is full of blocks. –Matt Parker
Thor: The Dark World is an arcade pseudo beat-em up arcade game that also serves as an official Android companion game to the movie of the same name. The game is nice to look at. Thor’s hair has the golden yellow halo effect, and the virtual environment is a fine interpretation of of cinematic imagination. Bright colors, interesting beasts and nicely animated characters rolling to the booming voice of Thorish proclamations. There is a judicious use of color, and while some of the animations are a bit formulaic they are altogether hard not to enjoy. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Blek, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Space Hulk, and The Wolf Among Us, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, tore it up with Touchgrind Skate 2‘s video upload feature, went hands-on with The Room 2, and put together holiday gift guides for 3DS and Vita. For all that and loads more, Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Comics by Comixology, the app with over 40,000 comics, has been updated with a brand-new look that goes along with the iOS7 theme. Give it an update, check out its new look, and get back to reading your favorite comics.
iOS devices are great for using as e-readers, iPads in particular. Besides being great for reading books and novels, they’re also ideal for comic book reading. Whether you’ve been reading comics for decades, or just discovering the magic within for the first time, here’s a look at four of our favorite apps for enjoying some of the best comics and graphic novels out there.
From Comixology, Comics offers a huge wealth of comic books. With a 30,000+ library of books, it’s the comic equivalent of iTunes which is pretty awesome indeed. There’s something for everyone’s taste here, with Marvel and DC residing happily alongside Disney, The Walking Dead, Star Trek and even My Little Pony. It’s simple to browse around and a web-based interface ensures purchases can be read anywhere.
For those keen to buy individual comic books, Marvel Comics has things covered. For others who signed up to a Marvel Unlimited subscription and had to be restricted to only browsing on a PC or Mac, this recent app is a huge help. It’s not the finest of apps to navigate (although it works much better on the iPad), but the sheer wealth of comic books that can be read while on the move and for a fairly low annual fee, it’s well worth a look. It’s kept me entertained on many a journey, as helped by the read offline feature.
Released: 2013-03-07 :: Category: Books
Offering a little bit of everything, amongst a subscription service and a way to check out freebies, Comics Unlimited is a jack of all trades. Archie, CSI, Transformers, Dragon Age and Grimm Fairy Tales all happily reside together on this service and flexible subscription options make it all the more appealing. It’s simple to browse too, with intuitive controls and an attractive layout.
Released: 2013-01-09 :: Category: Books
We’ve focused a lot on Western comic books, but there are plenty of great apps for Manga fans too. VIZ Manga is one of the best, providing a similar experience to Comics but with a focus on Manga. Naruto, Bleack, Death Note, Dragon Ball and many more are available here, with monthly free previews ensuring it’s easy to find something new to entice one in.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Hit game Temple Run now has a digital comic book, ready for you to grab for $0.99 on the App store. Ape Entertainment, the folks behind Pocket God Comics, among others, promise to answer the hard questions, like what is the temple? And what’s up with those golden idols and scary monkey demons? The first two issues come with the app, and then each issue after that will run you a tiny $0.99 each.
In the first issue, follow Guy Dangerous as he and a band of adventurers go in search of a lost Incan city and the treasure it holds. But when Guy comes face to face with a mysterious golden idol, they may get more than they bargained for!
ComiXology announced today a free, new submission portal for comics self-publishers called comiXology Submit. The company, developer of one of the first and most successful comics reading/buying apps on the App store, hopes to help comic book creators make money from their self-published efforts via ComiXology’s digital platform, which is already used by the likes of Marvel and DC. ComiXology has nearly 30,000 comics and graphic novels to choose from, with over 900 of those available for free
The service will begin as an invite-only beta, and will allow creators a way to sell their stuff via the comiXology platform. There’ll be some sort of approval process, and once ready, comics will be uploaded to the comiXology portal, available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and the Web, with Guided View technology. This lets indie comics creators use the same panel to panel navigation system that the big guys use, and it will be applied to these self-published works entirely for free.
Initially starting out as invite-only/private beta, comiXology Submit will allow creators a free portal to easily access the comiXology platform. Submissions will go through an approval process and when approved comiXology will transform the uploaded work with their Guided View technology – for free. Then the work goes on sale worldwide with the creator and comiXology splitting the profits evenly.
“…having a way to let self-publishers participate … is good for our customers, for comiXology and for comics,” said co-founder John D. Roberts in a press release. “Having the most diverse material possible serves comiXology’s mission. It’s great that we can now open our platform to self-publishers and deliver a whole new wave of creative works to our customers.”
CEO David Steinberger feels the same way, noting that the company has come a long way since it started in July of 2009 with just a “handful of comics,” he said. “We are happy today, with the announcement of comiXology Submit, that we now have a turnkey system to service this incredibly vital part of the marketplace. ComiXology Submit, helps keep the promise to our customers of having the best and most diverse comic books and graphic novels available worldwide.”
If you’re a comic book creator interested in self-publishing your work via the comiXology platform, head over to submit.comixology.com and add your contact information. The platform should become available to anyone in the near future who has one or more comics, graphic novels, a webcomic, and even short one-shot comics creators.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Emanata is a new comics app focused just on independent comic creators. They can publish their graphic stories for free, then get a portion of the sales proceeds. For the first month, artists take all of the revenue from sales (after Apple’s 30% cut). After that, the artists will split revenues 50/50 with Emanata. The artists also retain all of the rights to their work, which lets them publish elsewhere.
With Emanata, users can browse all types of free comics as well as purchase premium stories within the app to directly support the artists they like. The app’s new built-in news feed makes it even easier to follow specific creators and keep up with their latest work. The reader can also use in-app social tools to share memorable works with friends via email, social networks, and on the Web.
“Tablet devices are the natural platform to showcase great art and storytelling. We want to provide a dedicated place where the independent artists can find new audiences, and for the connoisseur of comic books to discover something unexpected and edgy,” said George Chen, CEO of Emanata.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Great to see comics continue to embrace new technology, and this free universal app delivers seven original graphic novel stories, including one by Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons.
The Madefire app, which delivers a fully-immersive, episodic comics reading experience, is now optimized for the brilliant 4-inch Retina display on iPhone 5 and supports Facebook single sign-on in iOS 6. The app is also available for iPhones 3GS, 4, 4S, and for 3rd and 4th generation iPod touch.
If you are among the ever-growing number of digital comic and graphic novel enthusiasts, there’s a new free magazine on Newsstand called INIFNITY that’s worth checking out. Designed for the iPad, it has the look and feel of any glossy digital bi-monthly without an overload of interactive features. There’s Twitter integration and audio commentary, but the magazine maintains an old-school feel with its attention focused on comic books and related genres.
The new iPad offering is actually a reinvention of a small comic fanzine that bears the same name which popped onto the scene in the 1980s. During its run it had a knack for finding stars on the rise, and the new iteration plans to do the same while also offering news and interviews with today’s big players.
The launch issue has tons of news and mini reviews, quotes from famous grapic novelists like Art Speiglman of Maus fame and features an interview PJ Holden about his commando-themed comics being banned by Apple, along with a preview of his latest, Murderdrome. There is also a one-on-one with David Lloyd on his graphic novel Kickback, a look at the art of Simon Russell and capsule reviews for several iOS titles.
Ape Entertainment, purveyor of fine digital and print comic books, is at it again. This time, they’re bringing runaway success of endless runner game Temple Run to the comic book format. It will be released both as a print book, available in comic book shops, and a digital download as its own separate app.
“Temple Run is by far one of my favorite adventure games on the App Store,” said David Hedgecock, CEO of Ape Entertainment. “The thrilling gameplay plays into our plans very nicely for an extraordinary storyline that we know fans will enjoy.”
Ape Entertainment may be better known as the publisher of the highly successful Pocket God comics as well as a Cut the Rope comic. They announced a licensing agreement with Imangi Studios, the developers of hit game Temple Run, which spawned an endless supply of clones with similar swipe and tilt mechanics.
“The Temple Run game left a lot to the imagination, with more questions than answers,” said Keith Shepherd, CEO of Imangi Studios and a heck of a nice guy. “We look forward to exploring the world of Temple Run and the adventures of Guy Dangerous in more detail with Ape Entertainment and the comic series.”
No doom and gloom for the pygmies this time around. At least, not on a global scale. The Pocket God Comics app is getting an update (or rather just got one by the time this ends up being readable) including the 16th issue and a fairly major tweaking to the store’s interface.
In this latest episode, the girls need to fix their raft with a laser. Sure, that makes perfect sense. The catch is they can only get one by catching a laser shark. Oddly that makes a little more sense. And, of course, mayhem and hilarity shall ensue as the pygmies attempt to bag a very large, toothy, and heavily armed fish. The app itself (pictured above) should also be much more navigable. New issues, featured releases, Top Titles and more will be right up there on the main page for all to see and access. It’s looking pretty slick all things considered.
By the time people start reading this, the update should be live. Assuming there are some folks out there who don’t own the app yet, it’s also available for the incredibly low (and obnoxiously expected) price of $0.99.
zuuka Comics have teamed up with Don Bluth Studios to bring the Dragon’s Lair comic book series to iOS. Originally published in its entirety in 2006, this comic series follows the adventures of the game’s protagonist, Dirk the Daring, as he tries to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from the dragon Singe. Apparently he didn’t appreciate Dirk invading his lair last time.
This comic tries to bring all the humor of the game in a format that doesn’t involve trying to move a joystick in the right direction, in the hopes that was the correct one. The series includes the issue #1 cover art and a bonus story drawn by Don Bluth himself, with the rest of the art drawn by Fabio Laguna, and issues written by Andy Mangels, Ryan Foley, and Jimmy PS Hayes. The app is universal and free to download, with the first issue for free. Each of the following 5 issues are available as in-app purchases for $1.99 each.
Released: 2012-04-18 :: Category: Books
Augmented reality apps are fun to play around with and display extra information about the world around us. But the Marvel AR app uses augmented reality to get extra information about fantasy worlds that we aren’t living in. With the Marvel AR app, users will be able to see additional features for their Marvel comics by using their iOS devices’ camera.
Select Marvel comics, the first of which to use the new app is Avengers vs. X-Men, will include behind the scenes footage, 3D action scenes, video recaps of past events, and more. Comics designed for use with Marvel AR will start featuring the AR red and white logo to flag throughout the book when the app should be used. Users will simply hold their iOS devices up to the comics and then will be presented with the bonus features.
This is a great way for comic readers who still enjoy buying the print editions to get to use their iOS devices to interact with their comics. The Marvel AR app is free.
The other day we told you about how Disney was reviving Peter Pan for the iPad, and now it seems the company is poised to do the same for The Incredible Hulk. The company just launched Avengers Origins: Hulk for the iPad, and it looks to be a fun romp for fans of one of Marvel’s greenest and most volatile heroes.
The app allows readers to learn the origin story of The Hulk on their own, or have it read to them by none other than Stan Lee. Along the way are interactive sections where users can let out Hulk roars, toss cars and do all sorts of other fun stuff that only those exposed to specific amounts of Gamma radiation can do.
The app looks like a great way to get kids into comic books, and we hope that Disney and Marvel will be teaming up for more of these in the future. Let’s just stay away from the darker stuff, no one needs the interactive scene where they forcibly coat Wolverine’s bones in Adamantium.
The Bane of Yoto Animotion Comic Episode I: Monster is the first installment of a new stand-alone comic app released by Squiddle Games for enjoyment on the iOS device of your choice. The story of The Bane of Yoto is an original story created by Josh Voila and based on the novel The Bane of Yoto: Blade of the Arbitrators written by the same Josh Viola and Nicholas Karpuk in collaboration with New York Times best-seller Steve Alten, JC Hutchins and Keith Ferrell. In this sweeping sci-fi fantasy tale readers will learn the fate of Yoto, who is turned into a powerful beast when a magical dagger is stabbed into his chest. Yoto will have to choose whether to save his downtrodden race or destroy them with his new power.
The Bane of Yoto is more than just a comic book to read, though. This app integrates 3D animation and 2D artwork created by Nick Runge of IDW Comics and Tyler Kirkham of DC. The comic is also narrated.
This is currently available in the App Store for free, and is compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as the iPad and iPad 2.
Today marks the arrival of over 60 Marvel graphic novels on the Apple iBookstore. Fans of the popular comic books can now find their favorite Marvel heros including the Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Captain America, the Hulk, and others. These graphic novels (compilations of several comic book issues) range in price from $8.99 to $24.99 and free previews are available for each title.
After purchase, these titles will be optimized for and viewable through Apple’s iBooks app on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad in full, vibrant color. Marvel has announced that it will be releasing new titles every week, and an extended preview of the New Avengers Vol. 1 is currently available for free.
To view all of the Marvel graphic novels currently available for download in the iBookstore, go here. Marvel fans can now add iBooks to their favorite ways to read and reread the stories of their favorite mutant heros.
Since 1997, Midtown Comics has been bringing comics and collectables to fans everywhere, first through storefronts in New York City, then to a wider website audience, and now to comic fans with access to an iOS device. Users can use the Midtown Comics app to get access to Midtown Comics’ impressive inventory whenever and wherever the mood strikes them. Users can browse comics, statues, action figures, collectibles, clothing, and lots of other comic inspired paraphernalia. Orders can be placed via the app and delivered right to the users door or set aside for in-store pickup. Users will get much of the same functionality of the Midtown Comics website in the app so they can search through the inventory easily. One important thing to recognize is that this is essentially a storefront app and not a comic reading app; all comics sold in this app are physical copies to be delivered or picked up.
The Midtown Comics app is available to download now in the App Store for free.