No more Blindfold Games or Updates

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iOS & iPadOS Gaming

I just finished talking with an Apple representative, and Apple’s decision is that unless I merge the 80 Blindfold Games into a handful of apps, they will no longer allow new games to be released or allow updates to be make.

From a technology perspective, that’s extremely hard and time-consuming. From a business perspective, that would mean spending hundreds of hours recoding the games, with no possible return-on-investment. Most of the games generate sales in the first three months of the game being released, and I’ve been building these games for 4 years.

From a usability perspective, that means the main menus would be ridiculously complex, and the settings screens would be confusing and almost unusable.

If you are unhappy with this decision, you can express your opinion to Apple. The accessibility desk is at accessibility@apple.com or you can call 1-800-MY-APPLE. Thanks to everyone for enjoying my games.

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Comments

Submitted by Jordan on Friday, November 10, 2017

Apple is doing the right thing as far as I am concerned. There are too many similar kinds of games by this developer, and they all should be in one app or in a few apps not like it is now. Also, these games are just way too easy for anyone who plays similar or has played similar games in the past.

Submitted by Ornella on Friday, November 10, 2017

I checked my phone and just got an update for blindfold craps and horserace. Did something change? Maybe its a good thing we're getting updates. I'm really sad about this because I love to play the pinball and some of the word games.

Submitted by smhy on Friday, November 10, 2017

Honest question. It seems like apple has created a rule for the app store that results in 80 games for the blind going away because it diddn’t stop to consider how following the rule would affect the blind. Does this rule affect games that sighted people play. If not, seems like pretty textbook discrimination.

Submitted by KidFriendlySoftware on Friday, November 10, 2017

In reply to by Ornella

Apple let those 3 games through as a favor to me, but told me no more.

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Friday, November 10, 2017

Marty, I noticed in the comment you left for me that you mentioned that AppleVis is not in the inside track. Care to explain to me what is supposed to mean?

Also, I understand that this must be very frustrating to only have Apple pull the rug under from your feet.

But, like some on this on this post. As this is only my take and opinion. In some ways I can understand why Apple have decided to do this. I think it was to trim and cut down on the developers that may have abused this privileges by submitting shovel ware and taking a cookie cutter and making so many variations to push app sales. Sadly, this rule would impact you due to those that have abused this. I'm certain you are not alone on this. Unfortunately, it sounds like a blanket rule that would apply to all and everyone. Making exceptions would be very difficult and setting standards that I couldn't see Apple would want to make.

As I do truly appreciate all the games you have ever created for the blind community. You have given us games that we would had never had been to play as there were simply no other alternatives out there.

I would only hope you would reconsider in combining some of the apps in to categories as others have mentioned. As I am sure that you have taken a core engine and wrapping around the core with a game with a rule. Samples like Gin Rummy, Spades, Hearts, Crazy-8, Wildcards, and such would be in a card style pack. I am certain that people would be willing to purchase the game if you were to do this. Hopefully giving you back the money you would expect from the lost time. Perhaps, a total re-write to use the VoiceOver engine to help cut down the size you had mentioned. Like in Audio Game Hub for example have various games that one can purchase and download to play. Totally mindboggling I'm sure since you have spent so much time in to this. I simply hate to see a developer dropping out totally. That would hit the blind community rather hard with such a loss.

There were also mention of people asking for a crowd funding possibility to help you on the money you would need to compensate for your time. Yes, I admit it would be going backwards but we also wouldn't lose everything either.

Besides I would imagine you have also learned a lot over the years of I wish I hadn't written it in this way or that way. This would be a good time to start from using the VoiceOver engine rather developing your own voice system and I'd imagine it would substantially reduce the file size that you feared about.

Again, thanks for what you have done for the community. If you do feel that it is truly time to hang up the shoes. it's been a privilege in being able to enjoy your games while we had them. Thank you for what you have done and good luck on your new ventures.

Looking forward to your answer to my first question.

Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Friday, November 10, 2017

Thank you @AnonyMouse for your very balanced assessment of the situation. Having given it some thought since I left my first comment on this thread, I’ve started to think this could be an opportunity. While it isn’t fair to say that all of the Blindfold Games have the same functionality but with different content, some of the games are quite similar, and I think putting groups of similar games together into one app would be beneficial. I’ve had the thought, before now, that putting them all into one app could be a good thing, though I’m willing to accept that the benefits wouldn’t be worth the cost in time, money and effort. I also agree with AnonyMouse that using VoiceOver, rather than the games being self-voicing, would be a very good thing, although, again, I accept that it probably isn’t worth the effort of changing them all now, and I appreciate that many of the game gestures are the same as VO.

I’m not a huge gamer myself, but I’ve enjoyed a few titles from the Blindfold series. I’d hate to see a major developer of accessible games go, when there are so few of them around. If more mainstream developers took the time to make their games accessible, and if Apple put more pressure on them to do that, there would be no need for games for the blind. In an ideal world, we’d be able to play the same games as everyone else. But as it is, we need our own specialist software until the mainstream offerings become accessible. So Apple need to understand that these are, in fact, different games, and that this is one of the few producers of accessible games. They should, at least, have given more warning that the rules have changed, although, as I said, I understand the need for it as a general rule.

Submitted by ming on Friday, November 10, 2017

hope you can discuss with apple again and see it has a better way to make it!
orall of us can create a open letter to apple and tell them our consern !

Submitted by AbleTec on Friday, November 10, 2017

I myself have not played any of Mr. Schultz's games. Having thus said, I think Apple is failing to realize the detrimental effects of this rule & decisions based thereon as regards underserved populations such as the sight-impaired.

To that end, I've started a petition. If anyone is interested in signing it, you may go to:
http://chn.ge/2iIoZHH

I have no idea if it will do any good. I do know we won't gain anything if we don't try.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Friday, November 10, 2017

Hello Marty. I agree with AnonyMouse. I think that if you were to create game packs then this would keep all of your hard work available to all of us who love your games. For myself, I would purchase the card games pack as Euchre is my favorite game. Hopefully you can see your way to doing such a thing. As many have already said, your work is quite valuable in the visually impaired community. Without your developmental talents, we would not have access to some of the apps because they don't exist, except for the very accessible version you have created.

Hello @Dave82

I won't start an argument.

I just said and keep my position that it has been in Apple DNA to follow their own tendencies regardless of what people outside of it think about something they think should be done.

If they were not then they would not be so inovative and they would not push so many things on the market like they do.

This has good and bad sides. I keep my position that the probabilities of having influence over Apple is substantially smaller than it is over other companies.

I do keep my position also that the easiest way to help Marty is giving him money to make him able to comply with what Apple is asking him to do.

In my post I expressed strong opinions on what I think is happening but I also did point to practical solutions that we as a group could take to help on this issue. This was not a hatter post because if it were then thi constructive part of it wouldn't be written ... instead this is the point of view from an IT professional that has seen in so many years many many things.

Now I am curious to see how much a simplified menu system with each game being sould and downloaded separately inside it as an one time in-app purchase would cost to be produced.

If all contributters could have access for all the games for free things would be back on the track if all of us could give possibly a little money to that end. More practical than suplying petitions and sending e-mails ... to who? Thhe accessibility team who has absolutely nothing to do with that? A that's ok though.

Submitted by KidFriendlySoftware on Friday, November 10, 2017

One person suggested adding the hashtag #keepBlindfoldGames to all of your tweets. You might pass that on.

Submitted by charles on Friday, November 10, 2017

In reply to by KidFriendlySoftware

I received the following from Marty, and was asked to spread the word. I personally feel that this gives an idea of what game production can cost both monetarily and timewise:

“Since I’ve heard from so many people thanking me for the games, I thought I would shed a little light on the economics of the game. I’ve even heard some nasty comments from nay-sayers.

The Blindfold Games make enough money to pay for the marketing of the games, and the cloud services the game uses. It does not pay me a salary; I do this as a hobby. For those of you that think the games are overpriced, consider how long it takes to make a game.

The average game takes 100 to 200 hours to program, on top of an infrastructure that took about 1000 hours to build over the course of 4 years. The app is then beta tested by dozens of blind testers across the world, and I implement their suggestions. Each game requires periodic maintenance to adjust for changes to iOS, and bugs that people occasionally find.

An entry level app programmer earns about $80,000 per year; an experienced programmer earns about $150,000 per year; there are 2000 working hours in a year, so let’s consider an average programmer earns about $60 per hour. That means each game costs about $6,000 to $12,000 to build, just to break even on a programmer’s time.

Apple keeps 30% of the revenue from in-app upgrades. Hence, for most games, the upgrades would need to generate between $9,000 and $15,000 to break even.

The average game gets about 2,000 downloads and 50 to 200 people will purchase an in-app upgrade for between $3 to $10. Suffice it to say, these games don’t pay for themselves. Remember – most visually impaired people are on fixed income.

For those of you that think the games are too expensive, I really don’t understand your complaint - they are priced far lower than their cost already.

For those of you think I would make far more money in the Android marketplace, remember that a higher percent people in the USA spend far more money on in-app upgrades on the iPhone that on the Android, and that tends to be true world-wide. If the games make so little on the iPhone, why would anyone think they would make more money on Android? In addition, most of the revenue in either Apple or Google app store is generated from a handful of western countries; not from the second or third world countries.

And for those of you who think I should give the game away for free – I guess you think my efforts have no value.

Another thing to realize is that most developers will not even breakeven on their investment of making games for the visually impaired community, or for making their games accessible.

I came up with a business model that does not make a lot of money, but makes it viable for someone to build games as a hobby and cover some of the costs. Every developer that actually tried to turn this into a business has failed and those games disappeared. I was aware of this when I started out, and knew the only way to succeed in this market is to come up with lots of simple apps that can be built in 2 to 4 weeks. Spending 6 or more months on build a game would set the price absurdly high, and very few people would spend $50 to $100 to buy it.”

Submitted by Jimmy V on Friday, November 10, 2017

I loved all the blindfold games. Marty you are awesome! I will continue to keep them as long as I can

Submitted by Jimmy V on Friday, November 10, 2017

If I run out of coins for a blindfold game, will I still be able to refill my coins?

Submitted by KidFriendlySoftware on Friday, November 10, 2017

In reply to by Jimmy V

You will. Apple did not say they would pull the apps; they just said they would not allow any new updates.

Submitted by KidFriendlySoftware on Friday, November 10, 2017

In reply to by Jimmy V

By the way, one person suggested adding the hashtag #keepBlindfoldGames to all of your tweets. You might pass that on.

Submitted by Scburdick on Friday, November 10, 2017

Whatever happens with Apple, I wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you’ve put into these games during the past 4 years. 80 games is a huge amount, especially in the blind market. I can’t thank you enough, and I’ll really miss you if this is indeed goodbye.

Submitted by alex wallis on Friday, November 10, 2017

Hi, just wondering has going over to a subscription model been considered?
so the sort of idea I have is this, you could divide the games up into general categories, such as quiz games, card games etc, then you would merge these into apps that contain the games, after that you could then charge a yearly or monthly subscription to the app and people would just subscribe to the category they were interested in.
I guess you could still also charge for coins and upgrades as well. I would have no problems paying for such a subscription, plus it would also guarantee you an income stream and revenue even for old games. the problem most developers run into is that games eventually stop selling, so they have to stop producing and it has lead to many good developers abandoning projects, so although the idea of one off purchases seems attractive particularly for niche apps developers have to make money some how and won't with one off subscriptions, so your effectively harming a developer with a one off purchase particularly of minority apps unless they have deep pockets.

Submitted by DMNagel on Friday, November 10, 2017

The reason I ask, is because choice of games LLC is doing it. They operate under both names choice of games LLC and hosted games llc. This has allowed them to create and produce more than 80 text based games. Perhaps you could operate under the name kid friendly software INC and more friendly software INC, or something like that? What am I missing?

Hi there. I would like to echo others in thanking you for the great effort and the great apps. Hopefully there is something we can do to help out. Maybe a subscription model or crowdfunding or some of the other possibilities folks have mentioned here could work. Maybe something no one has yet thought of. Either way, I will be watching here and hope we can make some progress.

Submitted by Dave82 on Friday, November 10, 2017

@splyt, likewise I meant no disrespect towards you at all. And yes Apple do have some history of saying their way is the right way, until they decide to go a different way in their own time. And yes there are positives and negatives to that.
That said, I genuinely don’t believe that they are entirely closed to feedback either, and think it’s always worth telling them what we think.
In this case it is probably unlikely they will change their mind, as the rule was made for good reasons, and I agree that the best solution probably is for Marty to find a way to work within these new rules. But if others feel differently, I did not want to discourage them from expressing that. Perhaps there is an argument that he should be given more time.
Personally I would agree with @Anonymouse, and suggest that although there is a wide range of Blindfold games, there are also a number of very similar games, for example the audio games like Pong and Air Hockey, or the card games which could be bundled.
I completely Back Marty on his right to charge what he does, his work costs money and has value.

Submitted by Ornella on Friday, November 10, 2017

Hi Marty, we know that you can't update the old games however, you could make new games but make it like the rs games format where they release the new games in the menu. and people could choose what they want to buy so it won't pick up plenty space on their phones. Just my thoughts. You are the only developer that really care about us. And even if you shift to doing games for windows you have to worry about the people who love to make crack codes for paid games to play for free. And the people who want everything for free, you suck.

Submitted by KidFriendlySoftware on Saturday, November 11, 2017

I received a call from Adam tonight, and he said the review team had a chance to look at the Blindfold Games again, and understood why they are separate apps, and that the games can continue. He mentioned games address a need that’s not normally considered by most app designers, and acknowledged how the games are focused on the needs of the visually impaired community.

New updates will be processed, and new games will be reviewed as before. I’ll go into more details about the discussion in a blog next week, but I wanted to get the word out to everyone.

I want to thank the everyone for contacting Apple and spreading the word about the games. I have heard from so many people – far more than I had hoped – telling me how much the games mean to them, and how they appreciate my efforts. It has meant a lot to me, and I truly thank you.

Have a great weekend!

Submitted by DrummerGuy on Saturday, November 11, 2017

In reply to by KidFriendlySoftware

That means I will still be able to play Blindfold Solitaire. That is my favorite game. However, I am very happy to know that you will be able to continue bringing games for everyone. It is good to know that Apple decided to allow you to keep doing what you're doing. Thank you for such excellent news. Thank you, Apple, for not shutting down the BLINDFOLD GAMES.

Submitted by David Standen on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hi Marty. Thank you for sharing this wonderful news with us. I always look forward with much anticipation to what you will come up with next.

Submitted by blusword on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Superb!
Thank you so much Marty for what you put together. Just as in the crafting biz programmers don't make a lot of money for what they do the man hours etc.
So happy for you and all of the blind community that we have our games back. Thanks again.

Submitted by Justin on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hey man,
Good to hear! Can't wait to see what's next. Definitely looking forward to see what you guys come up with! Keep up the great work my friend.

Submitted by ming on Saturday, November 11, 2017

well, I am glad that blind fold games will be continue !
looking forward the up coming new release !

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Marty,

Congratulations and I am not alone to say this, but Apple listen and heard the cries from the blind community.

May I suggest from here and out. As an ex-programmer myself. I would had learned a hard lesson from what you had experience in the past few weeks. Is it plausible that you may reconsider in making any future games on the VoiceOver API's and instead of your built-in voice system? I think for one it would make your coding much smaller as you had said that your games are rather big. I think this would solve that problem. As also, perhaps making sure that you would have a way to interconnect all future apps in case something like this happens again. These are all merely suggestions of course. It would make all future games braille friendly to the braille displays. Plus, it would give us better controls of our own VoiceOver instead of using your system to control them. I think of dozens of other reasons why it may not be a bad idea to possibly work in that direction. Perhaps, over time and not overnight but least a direction.

Say this would be a great start for a Blindfold v2.0 start for all games from here and out. Just a thought. Yes, you have created a core structure for the past 80 games, but I also think it would benefit you as well it would for us.

Thanks for what you have done and congratulations again!

Submitted by Ornella on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wow I am so happy. I felt sad for nothing. Lol

Submitted by charles on Saturday, November 11, 2017

In reply to by Dave82

Even very recently, the eMail app that comes with an iPhone was changed so that deleting eMails was not consistant, and feedback that was started by Jonathan Mosen convinced Apple to revert back to the desing of the eMail app that was in iOS 10.3.3. This proves the point I made in an earlier post on this thread that if we don't show support, Apple won't know our feelings and reasoning. If we do give enough feedback, they just might listen and change their decision.

You can actually switch any of the games to using voiceover - that's in the settings screens under voice customization. However, there are several downsides to this. Most importantly, once you have queued something up to be spoken, you cannot remove it. Hence, when you make a new gesture on the screen, anything that was waiting to be spoken will still be spoken. That's fine for a braille display, but for normal game play, it makes the game much slower. The game size has nothing to do with text-to-speech - that's a native part of iOS.

Describe in detail how that would work. I did a cryptogram game as the 2nd game after blindfold racer, and I haven't improved that game for 3 years. Maybe it could be the basis of one.

Submitted by Clare Page on Saturday, November 11, 2017

It was a lovely surprise to find out this morning that development of the apps in the Blindfold Games series won't stop after all, and that Apple understands why the apps are made with the structure they have, so they no longer want you to recode them. That's great news for all us Blindfold Games fans! Hopefully this thread will quieten down now, as well as the continuing debate about this whole matter on Twitter, so that life can get back to normal for us all, whether we play games in the Blindfold Games series or not. I look forward to finding out what the next game will be, and to playing yet more of them in the future.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Saturday, November 11, 2017

I was originally gonna share my comments by sending an email to Marty directly, though since he travels to thes forums from time to time, why not share my feelings with you all here if I may. For someone who has both an IPod Touch 6th Gen plus a "Galaxy S8" now from T-Mobile (where I use "Voice Assistant" most of the time than "Talkback,") I jump between both Android and IOS platforms depending on the task at hand. If there was truly an issue with porting Blind Fold Games over to Android, then apps such as "Delight Games": https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Delight+Games&hl=en , would not be doing better over there on said platform do to how apple works with paying folks. Disclaimer: I have chated with one of the main developers of Delight Games named "Sam" on "Messenger" sharing ideas with him on making his apps more accessible without failure, and the convos are nice! If you Marty, would like to share your feelings directly with the "official" community of Android users to try and understand where we blind users of Googledevices are coming from, I invite you to please either visit: http://g.co/eyesfreegroup or send an email to eyes-free+subscribe@googlegroups.com (with no subject/message.) , to join the list and express your thoughts there. In addition, see http://g.co/androidaccessibility , for "official" Android developer guides/tips on how to create accessible Android apps (from scratch.) Lastly, although it is not as popular like Applevis here, I'm sharing the site "Inclusive Android": http://inclusiveandroid.com , where if the Applevis community didn't mention about the app "Orange Tree" for example, I would not have known it was also made accessible for Android too! (That includes "Scout Legend" for that matter.) Anyway, this message has gone on long enough and some will think many of the words I shared above were "pointless," at least I "tried" to express myself from a diferent mindset. Have a great day/night everyone! Sincerely, Trenton Matthews

Submitted by Brian Giles on Saturday, November 11, 2017

In reply to by KidFriendlySoftware

Can you expound on this? What do you mean when you say you can't remove things once you've cued them up to be spoken? I would love to just be able to use VoiceOver settings since also have them how I like them, and sometimes it's hard to focus on game play when you don't have things sounding the way you want. I get a little bit annoyed when I have to set up voices in each individual game, and the process could be made more clear Could the settings just use standard controls? I think that would make things make more sense for those of us who use VoiceOver all the time. I find that if I do choose to use the VoiceOver voice that it skips over some announcements, like how many points a move give you in color crush. Is that just something that iOS just does on it's own? You can play games like Dice World and Word War fine using VoiceOver. Is that because games like that also have a graphical interface?

Congratulations on being able to continue the series. It's good to know that our voices can be heard.

Programmatically, once you've sent something to the voiceover system, there is no api call that apple provides to remove it. The program is simply told when the speech has completed, or did not complete. Using text to speech, I maintain my own queueing system, and all of the gestures call an method to clear the queue before acting on the gesture, which causes pending messages or sounds to stop. I use a combination of my queueing with voiceover, but if there's a long sentence, that sentence cannot be stopped once its started. In my text to voice system, I can stop the speech or sound immediately.

I may look into maintaining common settings in the cloud for things like voice settings, but that would require you to login to the app, so it knows who you are. Sharing information between apps is not reliable - i've tried that and it's not always perfect. Of course, adding a login requires the infrastructure around that, which is about half done - I created that for the Blindfold Racer Challenge last year - but I did not roll it out everywhere, because I need to study all the technical implications first.

Submitted by Devin Prater on Saturday, November 11, 2017

I've played many of the games on iOS. When I went over for a vacation on Android, which turned out to be not so nice for me because of text input, the only one I really missed was RS-games. Of course, I had that on the Windows laptop, so that wasn't too much of a problem. I think the blindfold games should include things like trophies, viewable in Game Center and shared to Facebook, and other bonus, hidden content which will make people want to play more to see what's inside.

Submitted by Jimmy V on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Keep up the great work, Marty, you rock!

Submitted by Sasha Stride on Saturday, November 11, 2017

I am delighted Marty that the games will continue. I have been very worried and sad but just read that they will continue. This is awesome and delightful. I kind of stopped reading this thread for a while but then my friend told me they would stay and I just had to read. I was delighted to actually see that she was right. I almost cried with relief because you have so many great games, Marty and you have put in so incredibl y much work on these games and there are no games that are bad and I have tried all of them and have lots of them. I cannot actually express my relief.
Edit: this post have been heavily edited because I couldn’t write right. :-)

Submitted by ming on Saturday, November 11, 2017

well, again. I am glad that we will have update for the blindfuld series games.
and have new thing coming soon!
and I know that we have some apps developer here as well.
I hope that we can have more action games, advantures games, and shooting games
coming soon.
because I think we have too many text base in games for us now!
why don't we have many games like sighted world playing?

I have about 3 more games I've built over the past few months to release; then I'll work on some interesting action or shooting games.
I won't do an adventure game since they take forever to build.
I know there are text-based adventure games that are accessible, but it's only text, and they aren't that popular, based on surveys I've done.

Submitted by AbleTec on Saturday, November 11, 2017

In reply to by KidFriendlySoftware

Hello, Marty. The cipher game I play now is by Ian Humphreys of spoonbill software. He calls it Code Breaker. You get a list of 25-35 words. The letters are represented by numbers. 3 letters are generally given, in the form of 1 vowel & 2 consonants. These are generally commonly used consonants, not like x or y or q. I haven't seen b, f, h, j, k, m, q, v, w, x, y, or z among the provided letters. The object is to guess the correct letter for each number. It's incredibly fun--& addicting. You code that, & you'll get my money of a certainty.

I'm really glad the decision got out of the hands of a grunt automaton & into those of a person who can actually *think*. That is always refreshing in this day and age.