In our latest App Zombies report we came to the conclusion that the App Store has to change in order to save itself from zombification. With new ways to curate apps, and by reducing the number of times a single app features in multiple lists, more apps could be discovered, leading to a healthy circulation of apps in the market - a crucial need after the new findings that over 90 percent of the App Store is made up of App Zombies.
However, we left it at that. How this could be done was left to an open question, at least, until now. In our research toward finding out how the Store could be saved we saw a number of people calling for the separation of games from app stores, with complaints that games clutter the market, preventing users from finding something new.
So, does the claim have any weight to it? Certainly, games are the single most popular category of apps on the market. They dominate Play Store banners, App Store lists, and the menu screens of millions of phones around the globe. Their huge popularity practically guarantees the best placements, but does this damage the chances of other applications? And does the slight difference in category necessitate a whole new store?
The case for a single gaming marketplace
Our findings in the App Zombies report suggest so. In it, we found that a single top app on average takes up 33 placements in the App Store (for iOS only, at least). With games as popular as they are (and regulars such as Candy Crush Saga, Subway Surfers, and now Pokémon GO continuing to dominate the top 10, with no sign of dropping off), the dominance of games over all categories potentially harms the experience of users without an interest in games, turning them away from the store. If they were taken away, we could see new apps take those positions up, and with potentially more diversity in the store the Zombie Rate would fall.
Gaming user experience for a better marketplace
While the number of games has never been higher, the number of players doesn’t necessarily match. Some users often complain about the saturation of games, and the lack of discoverability of applications that might suit them better. With better categorization, more apps could potentially reach the surface. It could also make exploring for applications that much easier.
The separation of games is nothing new. Traditionally games have been played on a single device or place; by console, cabinet or table top. Now, with technology that can handle everything, games have been collated into a single platform, yet they’re a slightly different medium than anything else. Media itself is also separated on both iOS and Android, and while combined TV, music and movies likely surpass the popularity of games, the distinction exists for that reason - the difference in the way mediums function, and also in the audience they appeal to. Furthermore, with developments in technology, eventually games may take over as the dominant medium, which would make a separate store that much more appealing.
Improving curation to give users something new
Then again, why should users have to search for apps at all? The big question is one of curation. The market begins to move in that direction, so why are apps being left behind?
As technology becomes smarter, and an increasing number of services begin to curate and serve content for individuals, so to could a new games store for people obsessed with finding new games, and so too could an app store be more effective in promoting certain apps to different tastes. The split of games and apps would mean dedicated audiences might be better served.
YouTube has recommendations, Facebook promotes content based on activity, and Steam, the gaming platform, has curators that can be followed to suggest new games. All three have these algorithms, or suggestions, that analyze trends and apply them to a single user who follows a pattern of interest. A better form of curation like this could be a master stroke for discovery, and such a feature would spell the end of Zombies. New apps in certain niches would rise through downloads gained by individual features (in theory) too. Recommendations could be a great solution to the two problems of discovery and the Zombie rate, and on a separate ecosystem optimization might be even better.
Three stores: What do you think?
It was recently announced at WWDC that Apple's App Store will be receiving a wholesale redesign, with the intent of "[offering developers a better way to their content and tell their stories.](http://(https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/05/apple-introduces-a-completely-redesigned-app-store/)"
Critically, the App Store will split Apps and Games into two, with a tab for each at the bottom of the App Store page. This could bring numerous benefits as addressed in our article, and we're looking forward to seeing how the change will affect the store. For more, read Apple's press release, which contains more details on all the changes. We'll soon be catching you up on what we think in more detail, so keep an eye on this blog as we'll continue to monitor what's to come.