It’s June, 2008. The brand new App Store is due to open its doors in one month. Arnold Kim posts a footer on an article on MacRumors.com “If you are a developer and would like news coverage of your iPhone Game or Application, please contact us for consideration of coverage on TouchArcade and MacRumors.” I send Arn an email. Soon after, an interview about my little helicopter game Chopper goes up on TouchArcade.
That was the first of many articles and the start of a great relationship. Over the years I became friends with Arn and Blake, and later Eli and Jared and others too. They covered every game I launched for iOS and without them I unquestionably wouldn’t be where I am today.
Fast forward to 2018 and now TouchArcade’s entire existence is in jeopardy. The site was already in trouble, but two days ago Apple announced it was removing a significant percentage of TouchArcade’s revenue stream, and without it TouchArcade don’t know how they will survive.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think those who have been supported by someone should support them in return. TouchArcade has provided a valuable service to Apple and Apple’s customers for over a decade. In return, Apple is taking away one of TouchArcade’s last remaining revenue streams with a month’s notice. Where Apple should be helping an important part of the iOS App ecosystem to survive and even thrive, they are instead kicking TouchArcade while they are down. If Apple was a person, doing this would get them labeled an arsehole.
Aside from being a general dick move, this action is also yet another nail in the coffin for small developers like me. We need sites like TouchArcade to cover our stuff, so that we can get sales and continue to make games for iOS devices. We cannot build relationships with those at Apple who choose what gets featured. We cannot send progress updates or talk with Apple during development to find out how we could make our apps better. There is no community of potential customers on the App Store for us to engage with and learn from. Without communities outside of Apple’s walls, we are developing blind and have no solid platform to launch from.
The App Store used to be a place full of opportunity where indie developers could thrive, but those days are long gone. This is a direct consequence of Apple’s actions and inactions over the past decade. Apple has just taken one more step to harm the little guys: those on the periphery; the press; their communities; and the indie developers. Not so long ago we were pretty much all they had.
The really sad thing is that these days there aren’t very many little guys left to care.