Skip to main content

That was fast: Apple pulls first subscription-based iPad game


Seattle’s Big Fish Games scored a bit of a coup this week by being the first app developer to get a subscription-based game app into the iTunes App Store. But, the bubble has burst, at least for now: Apple has removed Play Instantly from the iTunes App Store.

Play Instantly was the first iPad app to offer subscription access to games: for $4.99 a month, subscribers could play any available titlle as much as they liked, without having to purchase a separate copy of the game app. Play Instantly’s operation is similar to the OnLive PC gaming service: instead of downloading versions of the app, users connect to gamed via the cloud (which means Play Instantly only worked via a solid Wi-Fi connection: 3G doesn’t cut it).

Related Videos

Big Fish has expressed surprise over the removal, telling Bloomberg the company was trying to contact Apple to find out why the app had been pulled. Big Fish Games was very public about the release of the Play Instantly app and its revenue model: the $4.99/month subscription price included access to “dozens” of Big Fish premium casual games, and the company anticipated that Play Instantly would expand to “several hundred” titles for iOS, Android, and PCs in 2012—that would also come with a higher subscription price of $6.99/month.

Play Instantly may be the first game service to use Apple’s subscription model, but numerous publishers have been using it since the launch of the original iPad. Like app sales and in-app purchasing, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of subscription fees, leaving 70 percent for developers. Apple’s high share of subscription fees has led some publishers (like the Financial Times) to eschew Apple’s subscription technology in favor of iPad/iOS-optimized Web services.

Editors' Recommendations

I love the Galaxy S23 — here are 5 things the iPhone still does better
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has arrived to the masses, and it’s one of the best Android phones you can get right now, especially the S23 Ultra. However, for those who don’t need all of the fancy bells and whistles, like the S Pen and 200MP main camera, the regular S23 is also plenty powerful for the average person, especially if you prefer smaller devices.

I’ve been using the Galaxy S23 for the past few weeks, and so far, my experience has been delightful. I know that it’s still early on in the year, but for me, the S23’s small size is perfect and comfortable. Android also does a lot of things better than iOS, like individual volume controls and notifications, for example. But I am still primarily using my iPhone 14 Pro — despite Apple having some big flaws, such as overprocessing images after you capture them.

Read more
I created the perfect iPhone home screen — and you can too
iPhone 14 Pro with custom home screen icons and widgets

With iOS 14, Apple began to open the floodgates for software customization on the iPhone. For the first time, you could add widgets to the home screen and even change app icons to custom ones without the need for a jailbreak. And iOS 16 gave us some more customization options in the form of the lock screen, although the interface for that is su-par, to say the least.

While I see a lot of people still use a stock grid layout on their home screen, I took some time when iOS 14 first came out to customize my iOS experience. I enjoy that it’s not just a boring grid of stock icons — having custom icons and widgets really mix things up a bit and gives me a more informative home screen.

Read more
Will my phone automatically change for daylight saving time?
The iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island showing the timer and music playing.

Like it or not, it's that time of year again — time for daylight saving time. On Sunday, March 12, at 2:00 a.m. (local time), the majority of people in the United States will be "springing forward" and setting their clocks ahead by an hour. Along with losing an hour of sleep, it also poses an important question: will your phone automatically change for daylight saving time?

It's a question that applies regardless of which phone you have. Whether you're rocking an iPhone 14 Pro, a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, or any other smartphone, it's important to know whether or not you need to change it for the new time.

Read more