Can you believe it? The App Store turns ten years old today. Ten years of amazing apps, games, and experiences. There's a collective tear in our eye here at 148Apps. Our little App Store, all grown up and getting ready to head out to big school next year.
So we thought it was high time to look back at the past decade and see how much has changed in the world of mobile gaming, and how far we've all come since the App Store's inception back in 2008. Lordy, that was a long time ago. If you've got your own suggestions about how the ravages of time have deformed us all, stick them in the comments at the bottom of the article.
Free to play
The rise of free to play really began in the mobile world. Games as services, loot boxes, additional paid content, all of it really started on the App Store. Whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying that it's here to stay. In the early days of the App Store, when everything was 59c, if you'd have told developers and publishers that one day they'd be raking in billions of dollars and describing people as 'whales,' I wonder what they might have said.
A series of games, more merchandise than you can shake a stick at (my 38 year old brother has a pair of Angry Birds socks), and even a movie. And it's all thanks to a little game about hurling birds into structures that somehow managed to capture everyone's eye for a few years. The series might have lost some of its lustre, but there's no escaping just how successful it was at its peak.
The gamebook revival
It's strange to think how people used to read books and roll dice and cheat by sticking their fingers in the pages to mark their places. But the App Store has brought a renaissance in choose-your-own-adventure type experiences. Tin Man Games, inkle, and more, have breathed new digital life into the genre, and it's a great thing to see. Even if I can't cheat anymore.
That's a term that no one really used up until the App Store came out. There was casual, there was hardcore, and there wasn't anything in between. Now the vast majority of gaming experiences that people have day in, day out, fit somewhere into the slightly nebulous midcore bracket. Essentially the App Store created an entirely new way to play, which is pretty awesome.
Over the years we've seen touchscreen gaming get stronger and stronger. In the early days things were simple, but now we can play shooters, super-difficult platformers, and more using nothing other than our fingers and the shiny bit at the front of our phones. The App Store has become a playground for touchscreen experimentation and new ideas, and that's something pretty special.
One thing the App Store is pretty good at is making it easy for you to get a game onto your device in super quick time. Sure, there might be problems with discoverability, and some great games get lost in the scrum, but when you know what you want, getting it is a breeze.
While it might not be perfect, you're usually pretty sure what you're getting when you download something on the App Store. That's not the case on certain other app stores, where the quality control is pretty much zero. It's highly unlikely you've download something over the past ten years that's messed up your iPhone or iPad, so that's nice.
Open to all
If there's one thing to be said for iOS devices, it's that they're pretty popular. And that means there are a lot of people out there carrying gaming devices that would never have thought about picking one up before. That's opened gaming up to a whole new crowd of people, and quite frankly the more people playing the better if you ask me.
On the other side of that coin, the App Store gives indie developers the space to experiment, to throw out new ideas and see what sticks. Look at the likes of Nitrome, and their deconstructed platformers and puzzlers. That's the sort of thing we wouldn't have been seeing on a mainstream platform ten years ago, rubbing shoulders with the big budget AAA titles on the same front page. What's not to like about that?
So many games
Perhaps most of all, the sheer amount of games that come out every week on the App Store puts it head and shoulders over any other service. Yeah, some of them might be terrible, but every week there's at lest five worth your time. Show us another store that can offer the same, we bet that you can't.