Going native: Taking a bite out of the Apple guidelines

Patrick McKay, MD for mobile app developer JakDigital, tells US operators it is time to go fully native and comply with Apple’s “unsurprising” clampdown on real-money gambling apps

When Apple updated their guidelines on gambling apps back at the start of June this year, it was no real surprise to me. The truth, in my opinion, is that Apple does not want to kill gambling, they just want everyone to use their technology and their App Store as how it was originally designed.

Despite the recent uproar, Apple’s intentions are not news; back in 2008, when the behemoth launched its App Store and when we first began to publish realmoney gambling apps, we had to adhere to the guidelines 100%.

Then, slowly over time, gambling operators started tweaking their apps to have wrappers and bundles of games in HTML5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with HTML5 games or content as we build games with HTML5, but not on the App Store.

Bear in mind Apple doesn’t make any revenue from gambling apps, other than development fees from Apple development programs or enterprise accounts. My advice to any operator that is hoping to use the App Store is just play by the rules and adhere.

I appreciate that some operators will have some hardships and your current platform may need to be tweaked as you hadn’t planned for this new rule, but trying to be cute or bend the rules is a risk not worth taking. Apple has nothing to lose by rejecting your apps and potentially barring you from the store completely.

Very few operators will have the perfect solution by September 3, but with a bit of investment they can be prepared. Plus, assuming you wish to take your offering from state to state in the US or explore international expansion, then you have a native iOS blueprint to do it.

Yellow card offence

It seems Apple is showing the industry a yellow card and wants operators to comply with its stringent development guidelines – with no exceptions. Could the tech giant be riled by the web apps and wrappers they need to support and believe they encourage what they call ‘fake apps’?

Evidence tells us that apps are being approved and updated on the App Store in real-time, albeit not as freely as before. Apple wants us to utilize all its software to build truly native apps that behave differently from web-based apps. It is my understanding they don’t want any hidden backdoors that allow remote loading of content that don’t go through the App Store.

After being barraged by developers in the past, the firm definitely does not want any more bad PR, especially considering gambling is a particularly sensitive subject.

The fact is that Apple is the most innovative technology company on the planet and may believe that the gambling industry has until now been hedging its bets with browser-based gaming. There is so much more to be achieved when native is embraced fully.

After all, the revenue that is generated from fully native non-gambling apps like Clash of Clans dwarfs any revenues made from gambling. Could this kind of gamification and innovation in app development give gambling the boost it needs to appeal more to mobile consumers?

Maybe it is now time to accept some of the pain being dealt by Apple and start to play by the rules. Things may settle down soon, as long as political pressure doesn’t come into play.

Ultimately, as a sector we need to provide the customer with the best experience possible on whichever device they decide to bet on, and Apple is not the first to acknowledge that.

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[Bio] Patrick McKay has more than 14 years’ hands-on management experience in mobile gaming as the founder of onmi-channel games studio JakDigital. He considers himself an innovator with a real passion for digital technology and has vast experience in starting and building gaming companies for the online gambling industry. He previously founded GoBetYa Gaming Ltd, a mobile gaming platform sold to Stanleybet in 2010.

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