Dear App Store game developers, knock it off with the useless push notifications

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Mike Wehner
March 18, 2014 2:00 PM
Dear App Store game developers, knock it off with the useless push notifications

push notifications

Out of all the gaming device in my house -- and there are dozens -- my iPhone and iPad are the most frequently played simply because they are the easiest to pick up for a few minutes at a time. I -- and I imagine many of you as well -- play games on mobile devices when I'm bored or simply have a few minutes to kill on a break. But what I've never done is play a game because the game begged me to do so.

Lately, more and more App Store game developers have included push notification functionality in their apps. When you install an app and it asks permission to use push notifications, it's a brief but important test of trust. For most games, and especially for ones that I've paid for, I have (or at least "had") a tendency to trust that I wouldn't be bombarded with unnecessary notifications. But lately that's completely changed.

Instead of apps that actually need to use this functionality requesting access to it -- like those with social leaderboards or turn-based games -- now just about every popular app wants permission to bug you. The notifications being pushed by many games aren't alerts on game status or announcements of important bug fixes or features, but simply reminders that the game exists.

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Not now

"Come back for another race!" No thanks.

"Your minions miss you!" I'm sure they'll get over it.

"The mission isn't over yet, soldier!" Well it will be once I delete the app.

If your game has to remind me to play it, doesn't that say something about the quality of the game itself? And if I've not played your game for a week and it decides to beep loudly in the middle of the night to tell me it "misses" me, it'll be deleted by the time the sun rises. I promise.

Then there's the blatant advertising. Instead of telling you to return to the game in a transparent attempt to manufacture a non-existent addiction, some apps push advertisements for the developer's other titles. This is absolutely inexcusable.

You want to use in-app ads to push your own wares? Fine. You want to make money off of in-app purchases that actually make your game fun to play? Go for it. You want to use my device's own built-in alert system to force an advertisement into my daily routine? Your apps will no longer be part of my mobile life.

At the moment, I've taken to denying every request for push notifications from games simply because they, as a whole, can't be trusted any longer.

You want to impress me with a new app? Include "No obnoxious push notifications" in your list of features. I'll be the first one to play it.

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