App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is good for mobile gaming because it will …

  1. Keep the relationship with players healthy,
  2. Reduce the risk of government intervention, and
  3. Decrease the reliance on Facebook’s Ad platform

Players’ view on data has changed. Now (rightly so) players want more control over the data collected on them. The main purpose of ATT is to better align the preferences of players with the data collection done on the Apple platform. 

“The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users to discover apps created by talented developers around the world. … And starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, you’ll be required to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies. – User Privacy and Data Use from Apple

To achieve this, ATT lets players opt-out of data collection. So although ATT reduces mobile gaming ability to target certain players, this is not only the right thing to do but a modest cost to keep a healthy relationship with players.

Over the past five years, there has been a decent amount of governmental intervention on mobile games. The most glaring example is China’s recent ban on games for kids under 18 during the weekdays. Although government intervention is unlikely, it can have dramatic consequences—much heavier than the impacts of ATT. It is therefore wise of Apple to reduce governmental risks and mobile gaming will benefit from these safeguards.

And lastly, Facebook’s Ad platform was turning into a near-perfect market with decreasing margins and less opportunities for innovation. It was essentially becoming a black box—developers put money in and revenue (and hopefully profit) came out. This kind of controlled system reduces mobile gaming’s ability to combine data, innovation, and execution to find new opportunities—something that mobile games do better than any other mobile app type. Moving to less accurate user acquisition channels, although painful in the short-run, will benefit mobile gaming. 

That all said, I feel badly for gaming developers and other businesses that are hurt by ATT—these types of changes are never easy. I hope that you adapt quickly and find new, more prosperous opportunities. For the mobile gaming market on the whole, however, I believe these short-term pains will lead to a more prosperous future.

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