Zombies on the iPhone

I’ll admit, I’m addicted to Zombie games. They’re not all of the same calibre, however.

iOS screenshot of zombie apps

As you can see, I do actually have a few zombie games. One of the more traditional arcade style games is Zombieville USA 2. With an analog control pad area for navigation, and three equipped weapons, this game is a fast shooter, where the objective is to survive to the helicopter evacuation zone, by fighting your way through a horde of the walking dead. Action is fast paced, and the graphics are cartoonish and fun. With all the upgrades, the shotgun transforms your character into a zombie slaying machine. It has a lot of replay value.

Zombieville 2 screenshot

Z-Day Survival is a choose your own adventure style post apocalyptic survival simulator. While its entertaining, there is a limited decision tree, which greatly limits replay value.

Z-Day survival screenshot

Zombie Highway is a rather mindless test of endurance. How far can you drive your car down the highway without being overturned? It integrates with Game Center, so you can see the distance your friends have made it.

Zombie Highway screenshot

Zombie Farm is what I assume FarmVille must be like, but with zombies. You harvest zombies, potentially mutating them with plants, and then send an undead army against a series of computer opponents. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t removed this from my device.

Zombie Farm

Zombie Lane, however, is far more entertaining. This game was originally a FaceBook game, and was also available in Google+. It has been ported from Flash to run on iOS. I believe it’s also available for Android as well. It’s a well balanced game, action points recover reasonably fast. There are always a stream of tasks and quests to accomplish. The multiplayer connection can integrate with Facebook, but doesn’t really show you who has the game. It also uses friend codes. My Friend code is: 172650524. I would caution anyone planning on playing this on an original iPad that the game appears to hit the system memory limits frequently, causing it to crash. It runs fine on my iPhone 4S.

Zombie Lane screenshot

Zombie Gunship claims to be about zombies. You’re high up in a helicopter gunship looking through a heads up display at tiny targets on the ground. The task is to take out the zeds, which are dark, while allowing the white “civilians” to escape to safety. While I believe that the developers were intending the colors to represent heat signatures, it leads to a racial aspect in the game that makes me uncomfortable.

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Infected is a zombie tower defense game. Your mission is to protect some civilians by buying and placing different types of units nearby, hopefully to take out the waves of incoming zombies. Different zombies have different weaknesses, and it’s a job of min maxing in order to survive. It tends to get a little tedious after awhile.

infected screenshot

The final two games are both running games, which interact with your GPS location. Zombies, Run! was a successful kickstarter campaign, and is a well executed app. While running, it adds prerecorded mission commentary in spaces in your running soundtrack. As you run, you pick up items with which you can provision and upgrade your base. The visual interface is decent, but when you are using it, your focus is on running, not the app. This game makes running fun, and is probably the most relevant training for the zombie apocalypse. It builds a compelling narrative, and the voice acting is fairly decent.

Zombies, Run!

The last game, Zombie Run, is clearly an attempt at beating Zombies, Run! to market. The concept is crudely executed, overlaying a few sprites over google map imagery. This really feels like it was slapped together on order to get the product out the door. Aside from the idea that zombies provide motivation for running, Zombie Run provides very little of note. I’m not going to provide a screenshot. Just avoid this one folks.

Of the games reviewed here, three get a wholehearted recommendation. Zombieville USA 2, Zombie Lane, and Zombies, Run!

Thirty Percent

As Apple has recently started selling subscription services to applications on their iOS App Store recently, renewed discussion of their business practices has hit the internet. With the rejection of Sony’s bookstore application, word is that Apple is demanding that all applications which sell content available on the iPad or iPhone must

  • Allow the sale of the content through in-app processes, using Apple’s payment framework.
  • Allow Apple 30% of the sale from in-app purchases
  • The price of the content from in-app purchases must be less than or equal to any sale price outside of the app, such as through websites

Now, I haven’t seen any documentation from Apple talking about this, I’m mainly repeating what I’ve read on other blogs.Now, I’m not entirely sure. Maybe there is content available for sale for which a 30% margin hit is actually possible. This is not always going to be the case.

Book publishers, especially those in niche markets, may be represented in the App store by a common provider. For academic books of a specialized nature, large reference tomes can easily reach into the hundreds of dollars. I don’t have any evidence of this, but I rather doubt that there is a 30% cut available to these applications in the first place, let alone that much available for Apple. While sales activity of a $500 electronic copy of a 32 volume print set may not be high, I highly doubt that the application provider is getting a $150 cut. I also really don’t see how Apple can justify this much of a cut.

What’s the answer? Apple has made their right to control which applications are allowed on their devices quite clear. While my examples are niche sales from a niche market, and certainly isn’t representative of the market, I believe that it does show how their policy, if applied blindly, fails to work in all circumstances, and likely hurts consumers, as these application developers will either need to remove their application from the store, or else increase the prices for all.

What service is Apple even providing for these applications? They’re not hosting the saleable content. They’re basically just processing the charges, duplicating an infrastructure that preexisting software companies already possess.

Does Apple deserve 30% of these sales? I really doubt it. Do they deserve something? I can’t really argue against something, but I think it needs to be fairly minimal, and should likely cap at a determined price point. A $500 resource sale likely shouldn’t result in much more than $15 to Apple (3%) rather than $150 (30%).