April 17, 2014 Last Updated 3:14 pm

The Final Hours of Titanfall: exploring the tablet platform for long-form storytelling

Designed by Joe Zeff Design, this is the fourth tablet app from journalist Geoff Keighley

By now we should know the Geoff Keighley Presents formula for tablet apps: take a popular game and tell the behind-the-scenes story of its creation. The Final Hours of Titanfall is the fourth app to follow this formula, and like the other three apps, the design work was done by Joe Zeff Design (see post on the important new app Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary).

Titanfall-iPad-splashIf, like me, you are not a gamer, then here is what you need to know about Titanfall: The game, released last month, was developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts and is exclusive to Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One (which means looking for a version of the game inside the Apple App Store or Google Play is a waste of time). Beyond these details, I really could care less.

What is always intriguing about these Geoff Keighley apps is that they use the tablet platform to tell their story – and how they do that is the important part.

Released for the Apple App Store, Google Play**, Windows Store, as well as the Origin and Steam stores, the app is already at the top of the Top Paid Apps list in the News category inside the Apple App Store (the app was released just yesterday remember). Such is the power of games inside the App Store that an app about a game can beat out the Drudge Report (there’s still hope, I guess).

“The app demonstrates what’s possible for long-form journalism on the tablet, where users tend to be more focused and more engaged than when viewing content on phones or websites,” Joe Zeff writes on the company’s blog. “Unlike HTML websites, tablet apps deliver immersive, multi-touch experiences that can be accessed anywhere once downloaded, making devices like the iPad — and now the Surface — unbeatable for storytelling.”

Titanfall-iPad-12Like all JZD apps, this one was built using Adobe DPS and is designed in landscape. But the design uses scrolling within individual chapters, much the way a digital magazine would be designed using one of the more popular digital publishing platforms. The app contains a good amount of animation within its page designs, but otherwise is fairly simple. Because of this, the app only weighs in at 267 MB when downloaded according to iTunes (276 MB when installed on an iPad).

For me, the tablet page design is what I look at when viewing these “Final Hours” apps. Joe Zeff is a designer, of course, and I want to see what choices he and his team make. Magazine art directors looking to get inspiration for their own tablet editions will notice how many traditional elements are here, while at the same time how many native tablet elements are incorporated. Additionally, there is a consistency of look throughout the tablet app that puts the emphasis on the story being told, not the digital wizardry. (Compare this tablet edition to any of those built using platforms that have more minimal design possibilities and you will see why veteran magazine designers scoff at some of the style of digital publications being promoted by tech and media writers.)

The “Final Hours” apps prove that if one has the right marketing, the right tie-ins, the audience for the app will find and buy it. The question many of us publishers have is what about an app like Spies of Mississipi? Can it also easily find an audience, or is the only way for this to happen is for the app store owners (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon) to feature it extensively?

The Final Hours of Titanfall costs $1.99 to download, Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary is free (iTunes links) – both apps should be downloaded and examined by serious digital publishers.

** In the Google Play store the app is called Titanfall: The Final Hours.

Comments are closed.