Apple has made a number of significant changes to its App Store for iPhone and iPad that it hopes will help developers better promote their games and reach new users.
The alterations come with the rollout of iOS 11 this week, with perhaps the most significant being the separation of games into a separate section of the store. Given that the sector has long since been the most popular category on the platform, assigning it a dedicated marketplace makes sense when it comes to helping consumers find the content they're looking for.
Another notable new addition is Today. This is essentially an editorial section, where Apple's team will provide articles about the latest releases and key featured titles. Content will ranging from previews and Game of the Day recommendations to information about the game's development, although it is not expected to carry editorial reviews.
In a blog post detailing the changes, Apple calls for developers with unique stories to reach out to the editorial team and discuss potential coverage.
Product pages for each game have also become more comprehensive in order to give developers more tools in convincing users to buy or install their game. Studios can now post three autoplay video previews of their game, and post the latest news about their game directly to the page, helping to spread the word about in-game events or time-limited offers.
Developers will also be able to promote up to 20 in-game purchases through their page, encompassing anything from items and currency to subscriptions. From some of the promotional stills on the Apple site, it appears select IAPs will be promoted on the home section of the games store.
Finally, Apple has expanded the search system, enabling users to seek out specific developers, in-app purchases and even tips and tricks for their favourite games.
Whether or not any of this improves discoverability on the App Store remains to be seen. In the past developers have believed that getting featured in a prominent position on the store's home page or main feed was instrumental in driving downloads for their title, but even Google told us earlier this year that this is no longer an effective way to reach a new audience.
Instead, success on mobile still comes down to developers' ability to market themselves and their game outside of the App Store itself. The most useful new feature on iOS 11 could well prove to be the expanded search results, with users able to search for specific studios as they learn more about their games through the media and the content created by influencers.