Zombies, Run! developer worked with Apple to make Kickstarter work in App Store

May 19, 2012
Games

Crowd-funding service Kickstarter has gained a lot of attention of late because of some massive success stories in the world of gaming, but small developers have been using the fundraising site to gather money for ambitious mobile titles almost since Kickstarter was created. In the case of iOS game Zombies, Run!, in which players go […]

Crowd-funding service Kickstarter has gained a lot of attention of late because of some massive success stories in the world of gaming, but small developers have been using the fundraising site to gather money for ambitious mobile titles almost since Kickstarter was created.

In the case of iOS game Zombies, Run!, in which players go jogging and are fed audio that helps them imagine escaping from a horde of the undead, the developers were able to enlist Apple’s help, and work around its iTunes App Store policies, in order to make the game a reality.

According to a story from MacWorld citing a blog post from developer Six to Start, crowd-sourced app developers have a unique hurdle to work around when getting crowd-sourced funding for their projects. Kickstarter works by encouraging the people receiving funding for a project to offer incentives for different levels of donations. In the gaming world, this often equates to what is essentially a pre-order of an unmade game. You pay for it now, and the developers use the money to make it, then send you the finished product when it’s eventually completed.

That creates an issue in the App Store, because Apple policies forbid iOS apps from being sold through any other venue, including as Kickstarter rewards. But in the case of Six to Start, the developer was able to talk with Apple early in the process and get permission to distribute 3,000 apps paid for through Kickstarter, and Apple was even willing to give up its 30-percent cut on the sales, according to the developer.

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Of course, this shouldn’t be taken as a policy on Apple’s part, but it is interesting that the tech giant was willing to loosen the restrictions in the case of a crowd-sourced app that was able to net more than $72,000 in funding after asking for just $12,500. Probably the most obvious answer: Apple wants apps in its App Store that get people excited, and it’s willing to let go of a little money now if it mean securing the apps that everyone is talking about.

Apple isn’t the only company in the gaming sphere looking to get in good with exciting new projects. According to a report from The Escapist, Electronic Arts is offering free distribution to crowd-funded indie titles on its Origin online portal. Indie games are exploding as a segment of the video game market, and larger companies want to take advantage of that.

In a lot of ways, that’s great news, and shows something of an unanticipated benefit of the Kickstarter bubble. Gaining a lot of support from potential customers for an app pushes innovation, rewards creativity, and helps developers make new things that wouldn’t otherwise exist in the mobile space, and in lots of other industries as well. While Apple probably won’t make a standing policy for such situations, hopefully it’s willing to be flexible in the future to continue to help bring great apps like Zombies, Run! to the App Store.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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