Mar 12, 2012
At Game Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco this past week, I got to talk to a variety of people from developers and publishers alike, from small one-man outfits to representatives of multi-national conglomerates. I got to see small games with nifty premises, and titles with bigger ambitions. But the recurring strain I kept hearing from many developers was this: “Our game is coming to iOS and Android,” while they showed me their game on the iPad.
That was the exception and not the rule, however. Everyone else mentioned the Android version of their game as something else, a footnote. While we were largely meeting with iOS developers for 148Apps, plenty were mentioning Android releases, and with the exception of the previously-mentioned Dark Legends, there was little actually being shown on Android devices. iOS was overwhelmingly the lead platform.
But really, that’s all Android is to many in the industry: a number. It’s a number of users that their product can be sold to. It’s not about taking advantage of the platform because of a love of it, it’s about finding new people to sell games to, at as little effort as possible. Whether it’s the different code base, or the dread at the thought of supporting all those many devices out there, Android is always someone else’s problem to solve. Android is just such a risk to developers that they want it handled as easily as possible. Given the limited time and resources that especially indie developers have, this usually means someone else should handle it.
So, while things are looking up for Android’s gaming scene, and new cross-platform technologies are in the works, it does not appear as if the market for original content will be improving any time soon. There’s still just so many risks, and so few successes, that it feels disconcertingly will always be that secondary market. It will always get things after iOS does. It will always be “and Android.”