The only other interpretation I can think of is "Apple doesn't let you respond to reviews on the app store", but the ability to respond to reviews is not an industry-wide expectation. I can't think of anywhere before the rise of mobile gaming that anyone considered the idea that a game developer should be able to respond to reviews.
The original post here was on Spiderweb Software's forums, which have been around in some incarnation or another for over a decade and hosts a community that has built up around their games. This is a company that has always relied on a close relationship with its customers.
As a buyer on Steam actually I didn't feel I had a direct relationship with jblow as the developer, but I would have been very happy to receive his marketing material, especially if it was programming tips!
(...looking forward to The Witness)
When you buy an app, you are basically looking at sales sheets from people you don't know making claims you can't verify. The only way out is to go find reviews about the apps from blogs you can't trust.
Now think about buying an iPhone. I've owned an iPhone for 8 years. I know intimately the support experience. I know intimately the build quality. Software quality. Product lifecycle. When a new iPhone comes out I have basically all the information I need to make a purchasing decision, without ever laying eyes on the actual product. People who don't have that information can go to a retail store where they can try the product and talk with knowledgeable and friendly people about it, and many of them turn into me in 8 years.
I want to be able to create that kind of experience with my products. Because if smartphones were sold the way that apps are today I don't think many people would buy them.
Edit: I recognize that it's not particularly common for developers to try and encourage users to sign up for some sort of marketing. But I think that's just because developers haven't really considered it to be an acceptable thing to ask users of their games for, rather than any actual difficulty in doing so.
My comment does not address the rest of what you're saying (in particular, I don't care at all about iOS games or their app store), only that one point.
iD/John Carmack, David Braben, Sid Meier, Rockstar, Volition, Gearbox Software... I could keep rattling off names and developers, but those are all examples of companies and individuals who have dedicated followings who follow them from game to game or platform to platform.
Games on PCs, Valve's best efforts notwithstanding, are not yet so reduced.
There are a lot of people who like having tons of new games available to try for a few minutes or hours or days, and then throw them away. But the existence of those people / that market does not mean that there isn't also a market for games that people stick with for a long time, and that are sold and maintained for a long time.
iD and Bungie both have a long history of heavy interaction with their customers. That's rolled off for iD, but Bungie's back-and-forward seems as lively as ever.
Given you're fighting with actual, successful game developers as well as adopting a take-em-all-on style with everyone else I'm not sure you want to be clear.
It was common many years ago. And some indie developers still engage their fans, solicit advice, etc...
It is impossible on the AppStore ...
Yes, of course you can go out of your way to get connected to the people making a game. But it's just harder to do that on iOS than on Windows, and this has consequences in terms of the viability of these platforms for small developers. (It is by no means the only factor. The race-to-zero pricing on iOS is probably a bigger factor.)
It was a major distribution medium until fairly recently, even if not primary. Heck, you can still go into lots of retailers and buy physical media for PC games.