The staggering size of iOS's game collection

iOS has nearly three times more games than the previous twenty-five years of gaming combined.

via The staggering size of iOS’s game collection.

Most of the comments in the linked article complain that there is no filter for “quality” in the App Store. Contrasts nicely with the persistent criticism that Apple curates the App Store.

  • mastrogadget

    Weird. I wasn't aware that all the other platforms mentioned included some sort of quality check for games…

    • RattyUK

      Well a lot required passage by gatekeepers, another load had passage by astronomical up-front costs for development.

      Pretty much a lot of the games on the App store are versions of stuff that had gone before but some stars have emerged. Three attempts at every game that's gone before might get us here but there is a lot of new stuff too.

  • dchu220


    My only criticism is that Pac-Man doesn't work right on the iPhone.

  • Mike V

    This is the dumbest statistic I've heard in a long time.

    Consider that 99% of the games on iOS are free and 90% of those are total garbage. Even the good games all have "lite" versions, which probably doubles their impact in this. The combined depth of these games is nothing compared to the combined depth of even just all SNES games.

    Try comparing iOS to total flash/java/web games for a more meaningful stat.

    • famousringo

      Good idea!

      Got any numbers on how many Flash games have been made? Real numbers please, not like your made up percentage of free iOS games.

      • Stu

        And how many of those are free and NOT garbage…

    • Pat S

      @ Mike there are all kinds of sites which track app store statistics so rather then make up numbers you could actually spend an extra minute and use real numbers. According to 148apps there 42,157 games and 14,171 are free. Now math may not be your strong suit so I help. 33.6% of the games are free. As far as total garbage we can argue at that one for ever, but most of the major game studios are offering content on the Apple store so I guess your bias is obvious.

      As far as flash games go, the App store seems to attract all genres, so all the folks building games for flash seem to also participate in the iOS app store. Here is an interesting article on flash game development

  • mike

    not going to include PC games?

  • dchu220

    If all you can do is complain that this isn't a perfect metric then you are missing the point.

    iOS has created a disruptive innovation for the games market. That's the point.

    Yes. A lot of the games are crap and iOS can't handle games that are too complicated. That will change in time as the platform and developers begin to move up market. You are already seeing developers like Epic doing some amazing work on improving the gaming experience.

    • Alexkhan2000

      You hit the nail on the head. Apple has made a "backdoor" entry into the gaming market in a big way with the iOS without spending a fortune on consoles and developing a proprietary platform as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo had to do over the past decade. It is as though Apple stumbled onto this new and very lucrative opportunity but now they're in, it seems they'll go all-out in this space as well. Ditto for books and the publishing market against the likes of Amazon and B&N…

      • FalKirk

        I too think that Apple stumbled into the game market. And I further agree that having received this gift horse, they're not looking it in the mouth, rather, they're riding it for all it's worth.

    • Brad Larson

      The innovation here is lowering the barrier to entry for indie game developers. There's no way that I could afford to develop a retail console game for the PS3, Wii, or Xbox 360, and even the downloadable games require a lot more effort and time than targeting iOS devices. However, I can (and do) sell applications for the iPhone, iPad, and hopefully someday the Apple TV.

      Yes, by letting in more developers you do get a lot of garbage coming in, but there are many, many gems among those games. Surprisingly few of them come from EA or the major publishers.

      I think we'll see an increase in the quality of these games, not necessarily from the entrance of large companies, but because people are just now figuring out how to really push the hardware and because more time and money is being invested in these games. At first, people weren't sure how big this kind of mobile gaming would be, and now that they see the money that can be made they will increase their development budgets. Witness the Unreal Engine coming to iOS. Yes, this will give an advantage to the larger shops, but indie developers can still compete on good ideas and execution.

      I think Microsoft did themselves a tremendous disservice lately by updating the Xbox 360 in such a way as to bury access to games from indie developers on that device. They angered many of these developers by cutting off much of their potential exposure. Contrast that with how Apple has been promoting third party games on TV, billboards, and in their stores.

      As I mentioned before, think of what will happen when Apple opens up the Apple TV as a development target. A $99 set top box then turns into the world's cheapest video game console, with a horde of developers behind it.

      • Alexkhan2000

        Yes, I can easily envision the ATV becoming a serious gaming platform for the "casual" player and family usage. The ATV has already replaced the set-top box and the DVD player in my home. I think the ATV will eventually displace the Wii that we have in the home for our two boys aged 10 and 7. As network speed increases and the quality of these app games improves, we'll see more and more adoption of the ATV as a game platform amongst the installed iOS base as well as winning over those who feel the time has come to move on from the Xbox and PS.

        The hardcore gamers will undoubtedly stick to dedicated consoles but, in the big scheme of things, they are a niche. And with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch also being able to work as controllers for ATV, the migration will become easy and natural for the masses who own these iOS devices. It's a win-win situation for Apple and yet another unsettling development for the competitors to worry about.

  • Can't have lite versions on other platforms: too expensive for the developers!


  • timnash

    If revenue from the App Store and Ads exceeds what third party developers would expect from the Sony PSP and/ or Nintendo DS then the games will continue to improve and iOS will take over more and more of the casual and handheld gaming space. Nintendo has too many good in house games to be in trouble for a while but it looks like the only significant market for the Sony PSP will soon be Japan. I discussed this in detail in

  • Steko

    After Apple, Nintendo is the second name a lot of people think of when it comes to innovation. Too bad they never tried to expand out of their niche, in the long run it's fairly obvious that only a small minority of enthusiasts are going to carry a smartdevice and a separate game machine.

    In the great "apple acquisition debate" I think Nintendo would be an awesome purchase. I don't think Apple's looking at targets that big, esp. foreign companies but who knows. I'd love to see Horace's analysis on various potential acquisitions either in hardware or software/services.

    • dchu220

      As for purchasing Nintendo, it would probably be a bad acquisition for one simple reason. The two companies have different management and operating models that probably couldn't coexist.

      Apple isn't worried about becoming a great game developer. They care about making the best platform for mobile gaming. The skills needed to be a succeed on the iPhone are much different from the skills that Nintendo has.

      A far better acquisition would be Epic and it's unreal engine and I'm pretty sure that Apple isn't considering that either.

      • Steko

        "The skills needed to be a succeed on the iPhone are much different from the skills that Nintendo has. "

        I disagree. Consider that two of the cornerstones of iphone gaming are the touchscreen and motion gameplay and yet Nintendo was first to market with both concepts and will also be first to market with 3D. There's significant overlap in the skills and philosophy of both companies.

        Long term Nintendo either has to break out of gaming niche or they can stay gaming and become a software and services company. If the latter happens it will be in the context of their hardware business imploding and their value plummeting. At that point Apple may bid just to keep Nintendo's IP from Redmond.

    • asymco

      I think Apple will buy the moon and paint it like the iTunes logo.

      • dchu220

        That's not a bad idea!

      • Steko

        Steve would make his own moon first I wager. The iMoon, a superarray of nanomirrors that shields the Earth from Global Warming. Comes in 5 colors. Liquid cooled. Apple store taking orders now, ships "in a couple of weeks".

  • Great chart!

  • masonmark

    This is interesting, but not that surprising. The barrier to entry for making a game for most of those previous platforms was/is thousands of times higher than for iOS. Any person with $100 and a modicum of programming ability can make a game for iOS. Whereas just getting started on most of those other consoles will run you $10k to $30k, and that's before the first line of code is even written.