The Hills Are Greener: “And Android”

The Hills Are Greener: “And Android”

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.

This is not a bad thing, I saw some interesting titles from across the spectrum of genres that should be making their way to Android. More quality games will mean that there will be less reason to mock Android’s gaming market, and more reasons to recommend Android tablets as gaming devices. The Transformer Prime was on display practically everywhere I went that had Android games being demoed, and its potential in both hardware and titles coming out is dramatically improving. Unity was demoing some of the more graphically-intense games out there. This is without mentioning the games I kept seeing that had Unity. Spaceport demoed their new technology for bringing Javascript and Flash games with vector-based graphics to both iOS and Android. As well, Spacetime Studios demoed Dark Legends on a bevy of Android devices.

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.”

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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