To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Apple’s decade-long partnership with Red [(PRODUCT)RED], the tech giant has tasked popular iOS game developers with adding specific Red-branded features to their titles, in order to raise money and awareness surrounding the global initiative to fight HIV and AIDS.
“When we thought about 10 years with Red, we thought okay, ‘Apple’s got to light up Red all the way across [our platforms],” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice-president of environment policy and social initiatives in an interview with MobileSyrup.
Red, founded in 2006 by U2 frontman and activist Paul Hewson (Bono) and Bobby Shriver, has the overarching goal of fighting AIDS through partnerships with various high-profile brands and product manufacturers, including Apple.
Each partner releases special, limited edition versions of its popular products that adopt the project’s bright red colour, with 50 percent of the profit earned from Red branded items being donated directly to the Global Fund. Dubbed ‘ethical consumerism,’ the initiative has been an interesting and arguably successful amalgamation of humanitarian aid and for-profit business for the past decade.
More than $360 million USD has been raised through Red since its inception, with Apple, including its Beats brand, contributing $120 million of that sum, making it the largest corporate partner in Red’s Global Fund, according to the organization.
“To give you context, the medicine that we keep talking about costs 30 cents a day. The $120 million that Apple has raised over the past 10 years can provide nearly 400 million days of lifesaving medicine,” said Chrysi Philalithes, Product Red’s chief digital strategist.
This year Apple has tapped 20 popular video game developers spanning various genres in order to offer limited edition custom Red content via its App Store, with all proceeds stemming from in-app purchases contributing to Red’s Global Fund. In addition to Apple’s App Store offerings, the Cupertino, California-based company has also launched a Red iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE case, Beats Solo 3 wireless on-ear headphones and a Pill+ portable speaker, with all these branded items now available in Apple Stores around the world. Strangely, and this has become a theme each year with Red, apart from its iPod line, no other Apple device, like the iPhone 7 or iPad for example, are included in the initiative.
In terms of specific game offerings, Outerminds’ ultra-popular PewDiePie’s Tuber Simulator developer Outerminds, a small team of just 13 based out of Montreal, was contacted by Apple to position their title as one of App Store’s marquee Red in-app titles. Tuber Simulator’s limited edition Red features consist of special in-game items — including a massive room-spanning red race car — and PewDiePie delivering thought-provoking facts about the deadly disease to players in an uncharacteristically thoughtful way. PewDiePie is known for his dry, self-deprecating humour, both on his YouTube channel, which now has 49 million subscribers (that’s more than the population of Canada), as well as his various other multimedia offerings.
“Our demographic is weird because PewDiePie’s audience is young and old, though we know that our demo is a bit younger,” said Outerminds co-founder Guiz de Pessemier, emphasizing that because his title’s audience skews to a mostly a younger audience, he hopes his studio will play a role in building AIDS awareness in a younger generation.
“We’re targeting an audience that will hopefully grow up and contribute to the cause,” said de Pessemier. With millions of downloads since its launch a little over two months ago, Tuber Simulator is a ideal example of how Apple’s Product Red partnership is evolving to reach a younger audience.
Kabam, another Canadian developer, is also adding Product Red specific Power Packs to its iOS title Marvel Contest of Champions. Other specific in-game Red features include bonus roll packs in Scopely’s free-to-play version of Yahtzee With Buddies, a game that processes an astounding 40 million turns a day. Natural Motion’s CSR 2, a racing title that features an attention to detail rarely seen in the mobile gaming Space, is adding a unique Red version of Bugatti’s Chiron supercar, as well as mystery crates, with all proceeds set to go directly to Red.
Big name titles like Angry Birds 2, the franchise that arguably helped bring mobile gaming to the level of popularity it currently sits at, particularly when it comes to Apple’s App Store, is also participating in this year’s Red initiative. In Angry Birds 2, for example, the game is branded with a special Red splash screen and ‘Red,’ which is coincidentally also the name of Angry Birds’ famous rouge-coloured disgruntled avian. Red now has a special ability that doles out extra damage. One of Rovio’s popular Angry Birds offshoots, Angry Birds Pop!, is set to include specific red features as well.
Other games that are participating in Apple’s Red initiative this year include: Best Fiends, Best Fiends Forever, Boom Beach, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, Farm Heroes Saga, FarmVille: Tropic Escape, FIFA Mobile, Hay Day, Plants vs. Zombies Heroes, SimCity BuildIt and War Dragons.
Along with its Red in-app Store offerings, Apple says it’s also donating $1 to Red’s cause for every purchase facilitated through Apple Pay, specifically via Apple.com, the Apple Store, and the App Store; transactions not included in these three platforms will not be part of Red. The total amount of money that can potentially be donated through this portion of Apple’s Red program is capped at $1 million. Apple’s iTune platform is also participating in the initiative by offering The Lazarus Effect for free in order to build AIDS awareness, as well as contributing all proceeds from the Killers’ new compilation holiday album, Don’t Waste Your Wishes, to the Global Fund.
Over 35 million lives have been lost to AIDS since the discovery of the virus and 37 million people are living with HIV or AIDS still today. Every two and a half minutes an adolescent child is infected with the virus. In 2012 One acquired Red as division of One though both organizations are co-founded by Bono and Shriver.