GameClub Plans to Resurrect iOS Games Abandoned in the Wake of Apple's Hardware and Software Advances

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Last month, the editor-in-chief of MacRumors sister site TouchArcade, Eli Hodapp, announced that he planned to step down from overseeing the iOS gaming site to focus on a new venture. This week, Hodapp has provided more detail about his move to GameClub, a startup that plans to preserve premium mobile games in the wake of Apple's ongoing updates to the iPhone and iPad, which leave many classic games unplayable on modern devices.


As Hodapp explained on TouchArcade, Apple's frequent updates to the iPhone have caused ongoing problems for iOS developers on older App Store games. The first of these major issues hit during the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and its introduction of an increased resolution, which meant all developers needed to update their games with higher resolution textures.

While some developers decided to do this, others couldn't justify spending time and money to modernize their games. Of course, this issue grew exponentially worse with the introduction of iOS 11 in 2017, bringing with it the removal of all 32-bit apps from the iOS App Store. TouchArcade kept an ongoing list of every 32-bit app that was no longer supported with iOS 11, including the TouchArcade app itself.
Throughout this process, I started to realize that, entirely by accident, TouchArcade had become this weird museum of the glory days of iOS gaming. Loads of games that passionate developers were excited to release to a hungry customer base now only exist in TouchArcade reviews, or TA Plays videos.

We've grumped about this a bunch, in multiple editorials, too many episodes of the podcast to count, a near infinite number of Tweets, and basically every other place you can air a grievance online. These complaints were often framed around, "I wish someone would do something," or "Why isn't anyone doing anything," as our digital history vanished like a photo of the McFlys.
Now, Hodapp is leaving TouchArcade to address this issue with GameClub, a developer with the intent to bring the best of these forgotten and unplayable iOS games back to life. To achieve this, GameClub will handle all of the updates, ongoing maintenance, and support for each game, in essence becoming the new developer of the game.

These refurbished games will then be added into the GameClub library of games accessible by players. At this time, GameClub isn't disclosing the payment model that will be available to customers, but the company has stated that more news about the pricing structure will come later. The first announced title is Rocketcat Games' Hook Champ, which released in 2009.

Hook Champ by @rocketcatgames first hit the App Store in late 2009, and has been unplayable on modern devices for years. It's one of the many classic mobile games that GameClub is bringing back to life. Play it now by joining our early access program at https://t.co/xa26bCYO0b pic.twitter.com/CtkPHPVnjH - GameClub (@GameClub) March 5, 2019
Those interested can head to GameClub's website to sign up for early access to the beta program. Invites will start to go out on Monday, March 11. Hodapp also provided more details about vanishing App Store games in a piece shared on gamesindustry.biz.

Article Link: GameClub Plans to Resurrect iOS Games Abandoned in the Wake of Apple's Hardware and Software Advances
 
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Kabeyun

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I actually still have an iPhone 3GS in active duty that plays all my old iOS games from the 2008-2012ish timeline. Things like TapTap Revenge or Zombieville USA etc. Things history has passed by but are still very much enjoyable.
Nice. Tangentially, I also virtualize System 7 to run Dark Castle and System 8 to run Crystal Quest.
 

tkukoc

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This is a good idea! I still have an ipad mini I put a ton of older games on so i'd always have them. So many awesome games were released at the beginning of the app store that didn't require nonsense in app purchases. Games actually felt complete and you could play over and over again. Now you're lucky to play 1 game through without spending 40.00 to complete it. Which is why I refuse to put in app purchases in the programs I design.
 

guzhogi

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Now, Hodapp is leaving TouchArcade to address this issue with GameClub, a developer with the intent to bring the best of these forgotten and unplayable iOS games back to life. To achieve this, GameClub will handle all of the updates, ongoing maintenance, and support for each game, in essence becoming the new developer of the game.
Perhaps I missed it (totally possible), but my concern is what about copyright laws? What happens with the original developers? Will they get a portion of the revenue, or is GamClub buying them out?

Nice. Tangentially, I also virtualize System 7 to run Dark Castle and System 8 to run Crystal Quest.
Then you might be interested in this: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/return-to-dark-castle/id410703154?mt=12
 

now i see it

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If the original game developers couldn't justify the time and expense continually updating their games to work on newer hardware, it's a head scratcher how GameClub thinks they can.
 
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macfacts

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If the original game developers couldn't justify the time and expense continually updating their games to work on newer hardware, it's a head scratcher how GameClub thinks they can.
Read the article. Looks like a subscription model, even if you previously bought the game. You have to buy it again.
 

macduke

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Cool idea, but I'm already drowning in nostalgia. Wish more companies would focus on making new things, especially new things that aren't filled to the brim with IAPs because they're freemium garbage, but that's the world we live in today. Can't even remember the last time I played a game on my iPhone. I'm so curmudgeony now. I think between the IAPs and getting a Nintendo Switch, I just don't see much need for iPhone gaming. The controls are so much better on the Switch and I feel like that's where most of the quality indie development has shifted.
 

bradl

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This is a good idea! I still have an ipad mini I put a ton of older games on so i'd always have them. So many awesome games were released at the beginning of the app store that didn't require nonsense in app purchases. Games actually felt complete and you could play over and over again. Now you're lucky to play 1 game through without spending 40.00 to complete it. Which is why I refuse to put in app purchases in the programs I design.
This. And first off, thank you for not putting in those in app purchases.

I do the same as you, with having an iPad mini (on iOS 10.3.3) that I was using for both my own business as well as some classic games that I have; and when I talk classic games, I'm talking the kind where you've spent $2 on tokens at a video arcade, and those $2 worth lasted you 6 hours. Games in particular:

Paperboy SD (the classic cabinet version of PaperBoy)
Midway Arcade (all of those old classic Midway ROMs: Spy Hunter, Joust, Rampage, Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, Defender, ArchRivals, Wizard of Wor, etc.)
The Street Fighter II Collection (Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition, Street Fighter 2: Hyper Edition)
Pitfall

Those games. Updating to anything iOS 11 and newer would cause me to lose these, so I'm not updating that iPad. Having those back would be phenomenal.

BL.
 
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StellarVixen

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Mobile games market is in desperate need of change and innovation.


It is painful to see the state it is now. Mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, while the games are still cartoonish re-skin and palette swap of one other.
 

thisisnotmyname

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guzhogi

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Yes, thanks. It’s good. Not nostalgic black & white deliciousness, but good.
System Preferences → Accessibility → Display → Check "Use Grayscale" ;) Not perfect, but closer!

I remember playing the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade game when it came out with the movie. Had to be a 16, maybe 256 color game. Fortunately, I was able to find it on Steam, and can play it on my Mac. Also found "Dust: A Tale of the Wired West," but have to play that via DosBox. Never played it, but I wouldn't mind trying out "Titanic" by the same company that made Dust
 
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whooleytoo

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If the original game developers couldn't justify the time and expense continually updating their games to work on newer hardware, it's a head scratcher how GameClub thinks they can.
Good question actually.

It might be partly that games have a certain popular lifespan, then fade away. Beyond that point, it doesn't make huge commercial sense for a developer to keep updating it. But after enough time elapses, it starts to have nostalgia value again. The original developers have likely moved onto other projects and are no longer interested.

There's also the fact that someone like Gameclub would - over time - build up the specific skills for updating games. It's likely that most games have broken for a relatively small number of technical reasons (e.g. 32 bit-ness) and over time it would get easier and quicker to find and fix these issues. The original developers would have to learn all this, just to fix one game. Gameclub would be able to hone and re-use these skills to (re)release multiple games. In the same way that Westlake / Aspyr / Feral built up the skills to port many games to the Mac.

You'd imagine it would be difficult though, given the multitude of game engines. I'd have thought it'd be easier if they just focused on a given game engine (e.g. we focus on bringing all Unity-based iOS games up to the latest iOS version).
 

cbaca51

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This is awesome. There’s so many games I miss playing and can’t play them cus they aren’t supported anymore.
 

Xenomorph

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"removal of all 32-bit apps from the iOS App Store"

32-bit apps were not removed from the App Store.

Apps that lack 64-bit support aren't listed in the App Store outside of the Purchased section (nor can they be installed) on iOS 11 and later.

There is a BIG difference between the two, and I feel that the ignorance of this, after all these years, is pretty sad.
 

usarioclave

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Sep 26, 2003
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I have an iPad Pro 12 and iPod touch for playing the old 32-bit games. Luckily most of the ones I like have been updated to 64 bit (Spaceward Ho! forever!).

One of my daughters refuses to update her 5s because she still plays Scoops, which is this ridiculous game from back in the day where you have to catch falling ice cream scoops. It's older than she is, but she loves it...go figure.
 

Eorlas

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Feb 10, 2010
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I actually still have an iPhone 3GS in active duty that plays all my old iOS games from the 2008-2012ish timeline. Things like TapTap Revenge or Zombieville USA etc. Things history has passed by but are still very much enjoyable.
I'd kill for the chance to play The Ice Dance on TTR again.