‘Sega Forever’ Plans to Debut Free Classic Sega Games on iOS Each Month

Sega today announced a new mobile gaming initiative that will see a vast collection of the company's classic games launch monthly on iOS and Android devices for free, although in-app purchases will be available so users can get rid of ads. Called "Sega Forever," the program will let iOS gamers play "nearly every Sega game ever," from all of Sega's previous console generations, including Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, Dreamcast, and Saturn (via GamesIndustry.biz).

The games will be available as individual apps, with the first five appearing at launch including Sonic The Hedgehog [Direct Link], Comix Zone [Direct Link], Phantasy Star II [Direct Link], Kid Chameleon [Direct Link], and Altered Beast [Direct Link]. At the time of writing, none of the apps had yet to appear on the iOS App Store, but their launch should be imminent. After that, Sega plans to debut between two and three games from its classic library every month under the Sega Forever initiative.


All of the games will be supported by advertisements with an optional $1.99 in-app purchase to remove them. But Sega Network chief marketing officer Mike Evans promised that the integration of ads has been executed so as to not interrupt gameplay.
With the back catalogue Sega has available, the publisher is confident it will be able to continue bringing more classics to mobile for years to come. There are 15 classic Sega titles already available through the App Store that will also be brought into the Forever fold.

"It's a very easy conversion to take those games to free," Sega Network's chief marketing officer Mike Evans tells GamesIndustry.biz. "We're just bolting in the advertising support model and a single in-app purchase that can disable those ads."

"The games were never designed for ads or in-app purchases, which is why we've maintained this faithful emulation experience," he says. "We've spent a lot of time looking at the analytics from the soft launch in the Philippines to understand how we can get this model to be the best for the game experience itself whilst balancing the commercial needs we have."
Enhancements to Sega's old games include Messages sticker packs, leaderboards, achievements, cloud saves, touch screen controls, Bluetooth controller support, and an offline play option. Looking toward the future, Evans said that the company will hold user polls to gauge which classic games that its fans want to see most come to mobile.


The first five Sega Forever titles should begin populating on the iOS App Store soon. Users can go to Sega's website to sign up for email alerts that will notify them when new games are announced for the collection. For even more information about the new mobile initiative from Sega, check out Mike Evans' interview with GamesIndustry.biz.

Tags: App Store, SEGA

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Ubisoft Announces New Free-to-Play RPG ‘South Park: Phone Destroyer’ Coming to iOS in 2017

During Ubisoft's E3 press conference this week, the company announced an all-new South Park game that's coming to iOS and Google Play sometime later in 2017, called South Park: Phone Destroyer (via TouchArcade). Developed by Ubisoft studio RedLynx in collaboration with South Park Digital Studios, the new app combines the real-time combat of the new series of console South Park games with trading card collecting and multiplayer battles.


Players will become the New Kid in South Park and assume a variety of roles, including cowboy, pirate, cyborg, angel, and more throughout a new single-player campaign. Although not many details have been shared yet, Ubisoft said that card collecting will impact combat, and eventually becomes the strategic key to competing and winning in the real-time multiplayer mode, which includes a ranking system.
In South Park: Phone Destroyer™, players once again assume the role of the New Kid and team up with South Park characters to play a new game with cowboys, pirates, cyborgs and even almighty gods. Take your gang on a new single-player adventure featuring an original story. Full of fun, explosive battles and irreverent humor, players build and upgrade an all-powerful team to master the true strength of the cards they acquire.

Upgrading and learning to use cards strategically is key to competing at the next level: the real-time Multiplayer mode. Player versus Player combat challenges players’ skill and knowledge needed to defeat opponents in order to rise up the global multiplayer ranks.
Ubisoft also noted that South Park: Phone Destroyer will stay true to the TV show with all of the humor, jokes, characters, and animation that fans expect. Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will also provide the mobile game with authentic audio and voice work of all the classic South Park characters. The developer also confirmed that the game will be free to play.


South Park: Phone Destroyer is set to launch worldwide on the iOS App Store and on the Android Google Play store later this year.


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Report Reveals In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store

An investigation into App Store developer pay-outs has uncovered a scamming trend in which apps advertising fake services are making thousands of dollars a month from in-app purchases.

In a Medium article titled How to Make $80,000 Per Month on the Apple App Store, Johnny Lin describes how he discovered the trend, which works by manipulating search ads to promote dubious apps in the App Store and then preys on unsuspecting users via the in-app purchase mechanism.

I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what's this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called "Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN".

Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical "Clean & Security VPN?"), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app's revenue, which showed… $80,000 per month?? That couldn't possibly be right. Now I was really curious.
To learn how this could be, Lin installed and ran the app, and was soon prompted to start a "free trial" for an "anti-virus scanner" (iOS does not need anti-virus software thanks to Apple's sandboxing rules for individual apps). Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text "You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017".


Lin was one touch away from paying $400 a month for a non-existent service offered by a scammer.
It suddenly made a lot of sense how this app generates $80,000 a month. At $400/month per subscriber, it only needs to scam 200 people to make $80,000/month, or $960,000 a year. Of that amount, Apple takes 30%, or $288,000 — from just this one app.
Lin went on to explain how dishonorable developers are able to take advantage of Apple's App Store search ads product because there's no filtering or approval process involved. Not only that, ads look almost indistinguishable from real results in the store, while some ads take up the entire search result's first page.

Lin dug deeper and found several other similar apps making money off the same scam, suggesting a wider disturbing trend, with scam apps regularly showing up in the App Store's top grossing lists.

It's unclear at this point how these apps managed to make it onto the App Store in the first place given Apple's usually stringent approval process, or whether changes to the search ads system in iOS 11 will prevent this immoral practice from occurring. We'll be sure to update this article if we hear more from Apple.

In the meantime, users should report scam apps when they see them and inform less savvy friends of this scamming trend until something is done to eradicated it.


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iOS 11 Requires Developers to Use Apple’s New In-App Ratings API, Lets Users Turn Them Off Completely

Earlier this year, Apple announced a few App Store review policy changes, which included the reveal of an official API for in-app review and rating requests that developers had the option to put in their apps beginning with iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4. Additionally, Apple limited how often app developers can push out such prompts to just three times each year.

Today, 9to5Mac spotted a new section in the App Store Review Guidelines, pointing towards the launch of the new policy changes coming to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra this fall. Specifically, in section 1.1.7 of the App Store Review guidelines, Apple states that it will "disallow custom review prompts" in all apps on the App Store.

Image via 9to5Mac

The update also allows developers to respond to customer reviews for the first time.
1.1.7 App Store Reviews:
- App Store customer reviews can be an integral part of the app experience, so you should treat customers with respect when responding to their comments. Keep your responses targeted to the user’s comments and do not include personal information, spam, or marketing in your response.
- Use the provided API to prompt users to review your app; this functionality allows customers to provide an App Store rating and review without the inconvenience of leaving your app, and we will disallow custom review prompts.
The new user interface includes the App Store's traditional 5-star rating system in a pop-up box, allowing users to enter their opinion of the app without needing to leave it and visit the App Store to submit a review, as was previously the case. In addition to Apple limiting these pop-up boxes to only appear three times per year, if a user actually submits a review for the app, the developer can never request an in-app pop-up review from that user again.

The new App Store in iOS 11

Adding to the strain on in-app review prompts, users can now also turn off these requests completely with a new "In-App Ratings & Reviews" toggle found in the iTunes and App Store section of Settings on iOS 11.

When the updates take full effect, it means that developers won't be able to ask a user for another review of an app after the same user submits a rating using Apple's in-app prompt, even if the app has recently received a huge update. On the plus side, star ratings can now carry over across updates -- if the developer chooses -- so that the App Store rating system is a true overall aggregate of an app and not just user opinions on the app's current iteration.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: App Store

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‘Monument Valley 2’ Launches Exclusively on the iOS App Store

Amid a day of new hardware and software reveals from Apple, the company also announced the launch of Monument Valley 2, which is out now exclusively on the iOS App Store for $4.99 [Direct Link]. Released by ustwo Games, Monument Valley 2 is the sequel to the popular 2014 iOS game Monument Valley, which tasked players with navigating a princess through a series of increasingly difficult optical illusion mazes.


According to the developer, Monument Valley 2 follows in its predecessor's footsteps with all-new levels that are "filled with illusory, meditative puzzles," but this time players are guiding a mother, named Ro, and her child through the game's puzzles. Ustwo Games notes that knowledge of the original game isn't needed to enjoy the sequel, but the two games are set in the same universe.
Dan Gray, head of studio at ustwo Games says, "We wanted to find the perfect reason to return to Monument Valley, and the story of a mother who's not only a parent but a creator of this world is a narrative we felt compelled to tell. We spent two years hiring some of the industry's most talented people for this team, and we're excited to show this whole new take on a game fans have been asking for."
The game's major features include:
  • A standalone adventure - A completely new story from the Monument Valley universe. You don’t need to have previously played Monument Valley to enjoy Monument Valley 2.
  • Individually crafted puzzles - Enjoy beautiful levels filled with illusory, meditative puzzles, using brand new interactions to explore the changing dynamics between characters.
  • Contemporary visuals - Artwork inspired by an eclectic mixture of architectural styles, artistic movements and personal influences, each translated into stunning geometric structures.
  • Beautiful audio - Immerse yourself in uniquely melodic interactive soundscapes, tailored perfectly to every step of Ro and her child's journey.

Monument Valley 2 is available to download now on the iOS App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS 9 or later, and costs $4.99. [Direct Link]


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Apple Says Developers Have Earned Over $70 Billion From App Store Since It Launched

Apple today announced that its global developer community has earned over $70 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.
"People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing. We are amazed at all of the great new apps our developers create and can’t wait to see them again next week at our Worldwide Developers Conference.”
Given that Apple takes a 30 percent cut of App Store sales, including in-app purchases, the App Store's all-time revenue has likely passed $100 billion.

Apple said App Store downloads have grown over 70 percent in the past 12 months, led by the Gaming and Entertainment categories. Lifestyle apps, as well as Health and Fitness apps, have experienced over 70 percent growth in the past year. The Photo and Video category has also grown nearly 90 percent in that time.

Last month, following its quarterly earnings results, Apple said App Store revenue grew 40 percent year over year to set an all-time quarterly record, but it didn't disclose the exact amount. Apple said the App Store's success has been boosted by "breakout hits" like Pokémon GO and Super Mario Run.

Apple last disclosed its App Store payout amount in August 2016, when CEO Tim Cook said developers had earned over $50 billion.

Tag: App Store

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Apple Transitions App Store Pricing to Local Currency in 9 Countries

Apple is in the process of transitioning App Store pricing from the U.S. dollar and euro to local currencies in nine countries. The announcement was made last week on Apple's iTunes Connect resource page, and the first reports are coming through that the price changes are equating to small savings in some countries, owing to favorable exchange rates.

App Store pricing in Romania is now showing in the country's Leu currency, which has made books, apps, and songs a little cheaper, according to iTutorial.ro. For example, an individual music track that cost 15,42 lei before the change, now costs 14,99. Small savings also extend to Apple Music and iCloud subscriptions.


Similar subscription savings have been reported by ThinkApple in Poland, where many prices have been converted at a rate of 1 euro to around 4 zloty, which is currently lower than that offered by banks. Savings in the region aren't as forthcoming in the App Store, however, with some prices actually a little higher.

As well as Poland and Romania, Apple is switching store currencies in Bulgaria (Lev), Czech Republic (Koruna), and Hungary (Forint). In addition, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, and Peru are changing to local currency from the U.S. dollar. Developer proceeds will also be paid out in local currencies as and when the transitions complete.

(Thanks, Alex!)

Tag: App Store

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Apple Support App Gains Option to Schedule Repairs From Authorized Service Providers

Apple today updated its Apple Support app to version 1.1, adding several new features to enhance the app and make it easier for users to obtain support for their Apple products.

Starting today, the Apple Support app can be used to schedule repairs at participating Apple Authorized Service Providers, giving users more options beyond the Apple Genius Bar. Scheduling repairs through an authorized service provider has previously been available on the support website, but now it is also an option in the app.


The Genius Bars in Apple's own retail stores can have wait times of several days, but Apple Authorized Service Providers are often able to help customers much sooner. New to the app is an option to filter AASP locations by mobile carrier to find relevant carrier stores that can provide repairs.

Along with the AASP option, Apple Support app users can now make Genius Bar reservations at Apple Stores in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

Apple Support is also gaining a simplified authentication process and support for iOS 10 rich notifications for chat, making it possible for users to reply to incoming Apple Support chat messages directly from the lock screen.
What's New
- Schedule repairs at participating Apple Authorized Service Providers.
- Make Genius Bar reservations at Apple Stores in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.
- Filter locations by mobile carrier.
- Simplified authentication process.
- Supports iOS 10 rich notifications for chat.
- Bug fixes and improvements.
Apple Support first launched in the Netherlands in November of 2016, before expanding to the United States the following month. Since then, the app has expanded to many additional countries across the world.

The app, which is designed to give iPad and iPhone owners an easy way to get support for their devices, closely mimics the design of Apple's dedicated support website.

Apple Support can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Apple’s Affiliate Commission Changes Only Apply to In-App Purchases?

Last week we reported that Apple had emailed all iTunes Affiliate Program members to inform them that its commission rate for all apps and in-app content would be reduced to 2.5 percent on May 1, down from 7 percent, globally.


The news came as a blow to app review and discovery websites like AppShopper and TouchArcade that depend on the commissions to generate revenue.

However, this morning MacGamerHQ posted an email communication from iTunes Affiliate Support that casts doubt on Apple's original announcement.


The message above was received in response to a query about whether Mac apps would be impacted by the commission changes. As shown, the email states that iOS and Mac app commissions remain at 7 percent, while only in-app commissions will fall to 2.5 percent.

If the affiliate team's information is accurate, then the change in commissions does not apply to individual app purchases, as Apple originally stated.

MacGamerHQ notes that several affected site owners and bloggers are still seeing 7 percent commissions come through for iTunes affiliate links, despite the fact that the changes were meant to come into effect on Monday. We'll make sure to update this post if/when Apple clarifies the situation.


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Apple’s App Analytics Platform Now Includes Info on Where Customers Discover Apps

Apple today announced that its App Analytics platform in iTunes Connect now provides developers with insight into where customers discover apps, a welcome change that will give developers more information on where app referrals are coming from.

Developers will be able to see if customers are finding apps from App Store browsing and search, from within other apps, or from web referrals.
App Analytics in iTunes Connect now provides insight on where customers discover your app, including App Store browsing and search, within other apps, or on the web. With key metrics based on source types, you can see your top referring apps and websites, making it easier to optimize your marketing campaigns.
Apple first debuted its app analytics platform in May of 2015, giving developers a detailed look at app usage statistics to enable them to create more effective advertising campaigns.


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