Ask around and anybody can tell you that the mobile space is currently in a state of hardware stagnation. Chips are already incredibly powerful and it's going to be hard to make any significant advances in that sector without advances elsewhere first, like in battery tech. Thus, the key to the mobile market right now is going to be software optimization. Most manufacturers have a custom skin over Android, which tends to be a divisive issue in the community, but there's no denying that the skins serve their primary purpose; differentiating devices in the crowded Android market. While most skins these days have mostly similar features, some are doing some things better than others. Xiaomi's MIUI, for example, is actually far more customizable than even stock Android, while Samsung's TouchWiz brings every feature in the market to the palm of your hand, up to and including biometric security, air gestures, and the kitchen sink. As hardware gets little spec bumps here and there that most consumers won't even notice when using their devices, people are clinging to their devices for longer and longer as they get more and more future proof. This market has made software optimization and exclusive features key, and every OEM knows it, even if they may not have the resources to act like they know it.
One company that does have the resources is Samsung. Much like Sony during the height of the Xperia line's popularity, Samsung is working to build an ecosystem around their Galaxy devices, especially the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note flagship lineups. Your Galaxy device can control your fridge, which can control your IoT setup. Your Galaxy device can control your TV, which can also control your entire home IoT setup. Your Galaxy device can even be inserted into a custom surfboard. "Overboard" isn't quite the right word for what Samsung is doing. Right now, a consumer can literally have a Samsung laptop for work, a Samsung TV for unwinding, along with a Samsung gamepad for beaming mobile and PC games to their TV, a Samsung fridge to fetch a snack from, and a Samsung router to power the connections behind it all. The Made for Samsung initiative is shaping up to play a key role in making sure that the Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the centerpiece of that entire arrangement, makes it into the hands of more consumers. Think about it; you have a Samsung phone and you want to buy a new TV. Why buy an LG unit that needs to be linked to your phone manually and may be missing a few features, compared to a Samsung TV that runs Tizen and can integrate deeply with your phone? Why buy an HP computer that's just a computer, no matter how well-made it is, when you could just as easily buy a Samsung computer that has software features specifically made to help it link to other Samsung devices you own.
It's for this reason that Samsung, riding on the decent amount of success that Made for Samsung has enjoyed with apps, has begun offering the initiative for game developers. Made for Samsung, when it comes to games, isn't just a promotion outfit that helps a dev net more installs by sticking them front and center in Samsung's own app store on their devices, it's a full-fledged developer advocacy platform that looks poised to net Samsung some seriously awesome exclusive content for their app store. Naturally, developers will be heavily encouraged and plenty enabled to cross-develop for Tizen, which could mean that Samsung's fledgling OS could become an honest to goodness competitor in and out of the mobile space. Currently, it powers some of their phones internationally, along with their TVs, appliances and some backend features of their Android devices. As a bonus, Tizen could enable some VR and IoT features for the Gear VR that Samsung would have had a harder time programming on Android. Should Tizen gain momentum, it's possible that it may cannibalize some Android sales from fans that are loyal to Samsung, rather than to Android. Of course, better software would also help to sell more Android-based Samsung devices, which is never a bad thing for Samsung.
With software being as important as it is in this venture, Samsung's VP of emerging platforms, Mihai Pohontu, sat down at the Games Beat conference to discuss Made for Samsung and how the company plans to leverage it to build their platforms and ecosystem. Not only will they offer developer recruiting and advocacy, the plan is to have a full staff of developers, artists, and producers on hand to help make any game on Made for Samsung the best that it can be. These AAA indie titles won't see the light of day in the Play Store, on Steam or on Apple's App store – they'll live exclusively in the Galaxy Apps store and the Gear VR section of the Oculus store. Developers will see their games ending up on the front page and staying there for some time, unlike the weekly rotation of the Play Store. Pohontu also clarified on an earlier statement about the platform; 40,000 installs per month, the estimate that Samsung has for games on Made for Samsung, means in the U.S. alone, of course, they will advocate for developers with Samsung's bigwigs in other nations. With the Vulkan API starting to revolutionize game development and the notion of how powerful a device is, Pohontu estimates that a Galaxy device can match a Sony Playstation 4 head on by 2020. Developers will also be assisted with getting their VR games on the Gear VR, which means compatibility with the wildly popular Oculus Rift. Monetary aid for qualifying developers, though not a recruitment method, is also not out of the question. Made for Samsung is, altogether, a pretty sweet deal that will end up attracting some serious talent and giving Samsung some substantially compelling exclusives. Whether that will translate to increased sales and interest in a full Samsung ecosystem all depends on how well it's all pulled off.