Game On: Apple and Google Turn Up the Heat in the Mobile Gaming 'Arms Race'

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Former West Coast Editor
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Google and Apple aren’t playing around when it comes to mobile gaming. They’re hungry for the hottest games first and they’re throwing around their weight to snatch up the billions of customers that come with them.

The California tech colossi are raising the stakes in the battle to pwn (gamer lingo for: destroy) each other in the race to score exclusive first-run rights to some of today’s most played mobile games, according to The Wall Street Journal.    

The ask: Give us your games exclusively in our app store. Or, at least, in our app store first for a while, before you release them anywhere else (especially to that other big guy).  

Related: Apple Adds New 'Selfies' Section to App Store

The carrots Apple and Google are dangling to lure top-notch mobile video game developers are exclusive prime real estate and heavily promoted first-runs in their rival app stores’ “home pages and feature lists,” along with on the mobile devices running their operating systems, sources told the Journal.

The spoils so far: Apple reportedly landed a deal to specially feature Electronic Arts’ (EA) popular “Plants Vs. Zombies 2” in the App Store for its worldwide release last August. A source told the Journal that EA gave Apple first-run exclusivity for the popular game two months before releasing a Google Android version.   

Apple also reportedly exclusively featured ZeptoLab’s “Cut the Rope 2” for three months following its December 19 launch last year, some three months before Google Android users got their first glimpse of Om Nom’s goofy new Nommies last March.

Related: Candy Crush CEO: If You Don't Get Why We're Worth $7.6 Billion, Then Play Our Game

Google is gaining ground in the heated mobile gaming “arms race,” too, forging deals to push mobile apps that champion Android branding, also according to the Journal. The search mammoth reportedly specially promoted a Game Insight app after the Russian action and strategy mobile game developer discounted items for sale within the game that resembled Google’s trademark lime green Android robot mascot.   

Not to be left out, Amazon is also reportedly courting mobile developers with exclusivity pacts that would deliver their games on its Kindle devices.   

It’s no wonder everyone wants a bigger slice of the mobile gaming pie. Consumers dumped some $16 billion on mobile gaming apps last year, according to a global digital content study conducted by App Annie and IHS. And they’re expected to spend even more on the fun, addictive little handheld diversions this year.  

As it is today, mobile games are typically released in both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play marketplace. But, if the Silicon Valley giants have their way, the business-as-usual mobile game release model could soon mirror the cutthroat Microsoft Xbox vs. Sony Playstation console game wars.

Related: Playing To Win: How Gamification Helped Boost This Company's Sales

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