Apple’s 2017 shift from 32-bit to a 64-bit code base for iOS has shut the door on countless games and apps designed during the platform’s early days. Now, a startup called GameClub has attracted $2.5 million dollars in investment to help fix that problem, working with the original developers to update well-remembered premium mobile games for newer devices.
Games originally coded for older, 32-bit iOS devices can be recompiled for newer versions of the operating system. But that requires access to the original source code, which is often held by companies that don’t have the interest or ability to try to find a new market for an old, “defunct” game on their own.
“There’s a surprising amount of detective work involved in identifying who owns the rights and who has the source code,” GameClub cofounder and CEO Dan Sherman told VentureBeat recently. “Sometimes those rights are in two different places, or were part of a studio or publisher that is now defunct or in the process of winding down, as the original owners move on to other ventures, jobs, or leave the industry entirely. In some situations, the games were effectively forgotten, or the rights were at risk of disappearing into legal abyss, leaving them one step away from the source code being lost forever.”
Updating an older game for new devices also often means fighting with out-of-date SDKs and juggling new screen size options in more recent iOS devices. “Simply getting a game to compile again involves making and documenting loads of fixes, many of which are shared with other games we’re updating that utilize the same underlying engines,” Sherman told VentureBeat. “We then set up an automated build process for each game so we can more easily keep them all up-to-date with future changes and platform requirements.”
Currently, interested parties can sign up for early access to GameClub’s efforts through Apple’s limited access “TestFlight” service. But GameClub is currently working on 50 games that it plans to release directly on the App Store later in 2019.
Those titles will all be available for one-time payments and “free of intrusive ads and microtransactions,” the company says in a statement. That move reflects what GameClub says is “a growing sense of freemium fatigue in the mobile games market — consumers are increasingly fed up with predatory free-to-play microtransactions and incessant ads that are not only annoying, but often inappropriate for children.”
The nine iOS games GameClub has publicly announced for rerelease are:
- Super Crate Box (Vlambeer) (an Ars favorite)
- Hook Champ (RocketCat Games)
- Hackycat (Ken Wong)
- Gasketball (Greg Wohlwend and Michael Boxleiter)
- Legendary Wars (Liv Games)
- Incoboto (Fluttermind)
- Sword of Fargoal (Jeff McCord and Paul Pridham)
- Space Miner (Venan Entertainment)
- Chopper 2 (Majic Jungle)
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