The Hills Are Greener: Because Amazon May?

The Hills Are Greener: Because Amazon May?

May 28, 2012

The “Because We May” sale that started recently may seem like an odd reason to have a sale, possibly even a meta-sale of sorts – a sale celebrating that we can have sales when we want! But there may be an Android-related reason behind it.

Ron Carmel of 2D Boy mentioned to Gamasutra that they were in negotiations with a store that had “draconian demands on pricing control.” Now, while it’s possible this could be for something else entirely, here’s what the likely scenario seems to be:

  1. World of Goo is 2D Boy’s biggest product, and much of their visible work over the past few years has been to bring the game to as many platforms as possible.

  2. World of Goo is on Android, and has been on sale on Google Play and through the Humble Indie Bundle. It is not on the Amazon Appstore.
  3. The Amazon Appstore has notable demands on pricing – including guaranteeing that they have the lowest price, and wanting their own controls over the price of apps on the store.

Put it all together, and it seems as if this is the obvious reasoning for the sale.

The problem is that this winds up being a double-edged sword for developers. Kindle Fire is a lucrative platform to be on. But to be on its preinstalled store, it requires agreeing to Amazon’s terms. While it’s definitely possible to sell to that device’s users and distribute through another store or to self-distribute, it pragmatically becomes a choice between principles and profit.

The developers participating in Because We May have a point. Developer freedom is a necessity, and they’re ultimately the ones that provide the content, so they should have control over how much they want to sell their games for. On Android, Amazon can fluster developers, because not only have they splintered off, but they’ve created a policy that benefits only Amazon.

Will these indie developers change the mind of Amazon and of companies like Microsoft who notably restrict developer control over pricing? Unlikely – and in all fairness, they may want to prevent a race to the bottom, and keeping developers from dropping prices to 99 cents with desperate fire sales may be for the best. However, Amazon’s policy is solely in place to guarantee that their own store has the lowest prices. The stores should be looking out for the developer, not trying to take advantage or them, and this is an interesting issue that Because We May has brought to mind.

Because We May Sale Celebrates Developers’ Pricing Independence

Because We May Sale Celebrates Developers’ Pricing Independence

May 24, 2012

Indie developers from all over the world are putting their games on sale in celebration of a cause that some may take for granted: the freedom of developers to price their games as they wish without any outside interference. It’s the “Because We May” sale, running from May 24th to June 1st, and dozens of Android games are going on sale as part of this campaign.

Some notable titles include many of the games in previous Humble Indie Bundles, including Canabalt HD, World of Goo, and Anomaly: Warzone Earth HD, which are available for half-off or more. Shadowgun is available for $1.99 during the sale. Even Android-exclusive Android shmup All My Enemies is available for $0.99.

Worthy of note is that no one decided to do an anti-discount on Android like Michael Brough, who actually decided to raise the prices on his games for the sale as an interesting statement that he explains on his blog. Well, it’s his prerogative to do so!

All the links to download games are available from the Because We May Android page.

Humble Bundle Comes to Android

Humble Bundle Comes to Android

Jan 31, 2012

The first mobile pay-anything Humble Bundle is here, and Android is the first supported platform. Four games are part of the Humble Bundle for Android:

  • Anomaly: Warzone Earth: This is 11 bit Studios’ take on tower offense, as players control units that invade enemy defenses. The initial release was infamously ported by just one developer in two weeks.
  • EDGE & EDGE Extended: Mobigame just recently launched this game on Android. Players control a cube that has to navigate through isometric mazes. The game became infamous on iOS for being removed and restored to the App Store through various trademark controversies over the word ‘edge’ with Tim Langdell.
  • Osmos: Hemisphere Games’ interesting physics title – not a physics puzzler in the Angry Birds sense – has players controlling an amoeba-like organism that must fire matter at its enemies to shrink them down, while absorbing other, smaller, organisms to collect them up. This game is available in both phone and tablet optimized versions that are both available as part of the bundle.
  • World of Goo: The gooey puzzle game from 2D Boy that released late in 2011 is here in DRM-free form. Read our review for more on the game.

The bundle doesn’t just come with DRM-free Android versions – the PC/Mac/Linux versions are also included. World of Goo is only included in the bundle for those who contribute above the average, which as of publication is around $4.10. The revenue can be either split in any proportion between going to the developers, going to charity, and going to fund future Humble Bundle operations.

Of course, while all the games in this bundle are available on iOS, they can’t be included because of the fact that distribution outside of the App Store is virtually impossible without jailbreaking. However, this does have the drawback of the games only being the current versions, and not versions that will be updated automatically, as the PC/Mac/Linux versions can be when redeemed on Steam.

Still, this is all a fantastic endeavor that supports charity and independent developers, and can get gamers great games at bargain prices. Click here to visit the Humble Bundle website to download the games.

Minecraft and 2D Boy Enjoy Financial Success from Android Releases

Minecraft and 2D Boy Enjoy Financial Success from Android Releases

Jan 20, 2012

Minecraft Pocket Edition may not be a full representation of the PC Minecraft experience, but the game is selling rather well so far. Over 700,000 copies of the game have been sold, according to one of the >Pocket Edition‘s developers, Daniel Kaplan. As well, the app is currently selling about 5,000 copies a day. Specific platform numbers were not given.

Obviously, the question with these sales numbers is just how many were sold when the game was part of the 10-cent sale back in December? Those likely are inflating the numbers, but the thing to keep note of is that other than that, the game’s regular price is $6.99. If the number includes iOS sales, then considering the app has been hanging around the top charts on both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad charts, and the game has been $6.99 for the rest of its existence on Android, that means that Mojang has pulled down quite a lot of revenue from this game. Having name recognition helps, but still, this is a mammoth success for Mojang and for mobile gaming.

This shows that premium prices are not entirely dead. People will buy games at higher prices compared to the rest of the market that prices frequently at points of $0.99 and even free. Can a developer just starting out hope to price a game at this high price point and hope to succeed? It’s far less likely, unless there was a massive pre-release hype, a groundswell of support among those in the know to drive sales.

More likely is that established indie developers might be more confident to launch on mobile and on Android, knowing that success can be had from selling at a higher price point, assuming it’s a known quantity. As 2D Boy have also shown, the Android version has done well, pushing 70,000 copies since its release. As 2D Boy’s Ron Carmel says in his post: “the Android Market is no longer the tiny upstart it was a year or two ago.” It is increasing as a real financial opportunity for developers.

World of Goo Review

World of Goo Review

Nov 30, 2011

2D Boy’s indie smash hit World of Goo is slowly traversing across the gaming universe, to any platform that is pointer control-friendly. From computers to Wii to iOS, now in 2011, the World of Goo experience is now available on Android. The point of World of Goo is to use goo balls to connect a starting goo point to the vacuum at the end, trying to suck up the additional goo balls. There are standard ones that are one-time only uses, ones that can be moved around, ones that serve as balloons, and more.

World of Goo has far more personality than many puzzle games. The hint signs tease a bigger story about what the goo balls are, and what the World of Goo Corporation wants to do with them. The levels require a sense of knowledge about how to keep them stable, and how to balance them out in time before structures collapse. Many levels are explicitly based around building quickly before the environment changes, or flimsy structures collapse. They just have to stand up long enough to become sucked up by the end-level vacuum. Extra goo balls above the maximum are sent to the World of Goo Corporation level, where they can be built with freely, with leaderboards for the tallest height of a structure. Android tablet owners will love the game, as it is properly optimized for their devices, and multitouch can be used to manipulate multiple goo balls at once on the bigger screen.

The big problem with the controls are that finding and choosing the correct goo ball is often hectic because of the way that all the other goo balls move around on the current goo structure. Picking up the wrong goo ball happens way too often. To run the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I have to exclaim: “there’s got to be a better way!” A better indicator of the connections a goo ball will make would be helpful; in some levels it can be quite dim and hard to tell, and the difference between connections can be mere pixels. He ability to zoom in and out would solve a lot of these issues I mentioned.

World of Goo is a fine physics puzzler, though the controls are a definite issue that pops up. Still, for Android gamers who haven’t checked out one of its previous incarnations, this is well worth a pickup.

GooDroid! World of Goo is Coming Soon to Android!

GooDroid! World of Goo is Coming Soon to Android!

Oct 4, 2011

Indie developer 2D Boy’s PC and WiiWare hit World of Goo became an iOS hit last year, when the game finally hit the iPad, and later the iPhone and iPod touch. Now, the game is hitting everyone’s favorite Linux-based mobile OS, Android! With just a simple post announcing that the game is “coming soon” and the nickname GooDroid, Android owners suddenly have a new game to get hyped about.

The gameplay, which has been often imitated by other games such as Tiki Towers, involves using a variety of goo balls to build structures that must reach a certain point in the level. The game has also become known for its sense of humor and distinctive art style. The Android version will support both phones and tablets; the iOS version was initially for the iPad only before 2D Boy made the game work properly on the smaller screens. We’ll have a full report on the game when it releases. Until then, I build up hope that the game will be playable on my refrigerator. Just not in my refrigerator, it’s cold in there, and I’d much rather keep goo out of it.