When it comes to the old iOS vs Android debate, Apple fans often bring into discussion iOS-exclusive apps and apps that developers release on Android months after their launch on iOS.
For the most part, the argument is valid. Due to a variety of reasons, developers do have an easier time developing and selling applications on Apple’s platform.
In some cases though, the delays have little to do with the challenges of developing the Android app, and more with deals that happen behind closed doors. That’s what might’ve happened with Plants vs Zombies 2, which came to iOS on August 15, but hasn’t made it to the Play Store yet (it’s only available for Android users in China).
According to gaming website Giant Bomb, an EA executive publicly admitted that Apple paid the publisher a “truckload of money” to delay the Android version of PvZ 2.
When contacted for comment, Apple denied it paid any money to EA to delay the launch of Plants vs Zombie 2 for Android. However, the carefully worded answer leaves room for interpreting, since EA and Apple could have opted for a barter or a different type of transaction that doesn’t involve money changing hands.
Exclusivity deals are nothing new in the gaming industry, with Sony and Microsoft regularly “persuading” publishers to delay the release of their titles to competing platforms for a certain time. These deals usually involve a payout to the developer, to cover the loss in profits caused by the exclusivity period.
However, this story comes in the context of discussions about fragmentation and how it affects the user experience on Android. Just last week, Apple CEO deplored the state of fragmentation on Android, saying it’s a “compound problem” that denies users access to certain apps.
A quick Google search for “plants vs zombies 2 fragmentation” brings up articles and discussions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) where the popular game is used to exemplify the damaging effect of fragmentation on Android.
Alas, there may be more than meets the eye about the release of PvZ 2 and possibly of other popular titles.
[Update] According to TechCrunch‘ sources, the EA exec did make the statement, but it was meant like an “off-the-cuff joke of sorts”.