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Battleheart Developer Drops Android As 'Unsustainable'

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the unsung-is-an-odd-word-there dept.

Android 649

mr100percent writes with this excerpt from Electronista: "Battleheart's creator Mika Mobile in an update explained that it was dropping Android support. Google's platform was losing money for the company, since it spent about 20 percent of its time supporting the platform but only ever made five percent or less of the company's revenue. Much of the effort was spent on issues specific to Android, where the diversity was only creating problems rather than helping. 'I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn't go through,' one half of the husband and wife duo said. 'We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android.'"

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Who can blame them? (1, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314429)

Good choice

Re:Who can blame them? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314499)

Quite right. They're clearly not cut out for the software business. They probably bought into the infamous lie that "anyone can take on a multinational corporation on the Internet." No, they can't. And these guys aren't going to make it either. It's not Android that's unsustainable. It's their business that's unsustainable.

Re:Who can blame them? (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314519)

It's not Android that's unsustainable. It's their business that's unsustainable.

Which is why they're making good money on the Apple market, right?

Re:Who can blame them? (-1, Flamebait)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314573)

Their product would sell just as well on the Google Play Store if it wasn't shitty code. The great thing about IOS is anyone who isn't running the newest version is SOL. The android market base is far hotter and developers continue to blame android for not making much money on it, rather than write a decent app that doesn't rely on the IOShit framework.

Re:Who can blame them? (1, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314591)

Their product would sell just as well on the Google Play Store if it wasn't shitty code. The great thing about IOS is anyone who isn't running the newest version is SOL. The android market base is far hotter and developers continue to blame android for not making much money on it, rather than write a decent app that doesn't rely on the IOShit framework.

You sound like a jealous Android user. Why is that?

Re:Who can blame them? (0, Troll)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314641)

Oh please. This game is nothing to be impressed about. Not jealous at all. I'm only resentful of smear campaigns. All they're saying here is we couldn't release a quality product that sold, so we're blaming the entire Android platform instead of ourselves.

Re:Who can blame them? (5, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314753)

Apparently, a whole range of devs can't release a quality product on Android while they do just fine products on iOS. Coincidentally, it's all the devs that needs 3D Rendering.

Go figure. It cannot be that Apple's platform is much more leveled. Nah. Can't be.

Re:Who can blame them? (-1, Offtopic)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314775)

Wouldn't have anything to do with it being poorly ported code? Nah. Can't be.

Re:Who can blame them? (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314891)

Ported? Where are the decent Android only apps that don't need porting? Where are the bad Android apps ported to iOS?

Re:Who can blame them? (2, Insightful)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314905)

IOS is too restrictive to allow direct ports from open platforms. This is what was being talked about by the OSS pioneers that said walled gardens were a bad thing. Remember that ?

Re:Who can blame them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314843)

What do you get when you get too many Phds in a confined space? Nothing to celebrate.

Such is the death of all Google products, except search (judge based on financial profit, not good feelings/images).

Re:Who can blame them? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314821)

How about you face the fact that the game was a shitty port that didn't sell well so rather than fix the game e and make money the guy blames the platform. Its as simple as that.

Re:Who can blame them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314595)

Are you kidding? Do you even know who Mika Mobile is? They make extremely polished apps that top the charts on iOS. Get your shit straight fanboy.

Re:Who can blame them? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314611)

dur Apple is evil, google is open. dur the corporation i like (and dont work for, have an investment in, have friends at) is better than some corporation i dont like... durr

Re:Who can blame them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314637)

Spoken like someone who doesn't make a living selling mobile apps. Android is a mess. It doesn't *have* to be, but it certainly is right now.

Re:Who can blame them? (4, Funny)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314705)

You bet. Those folks are already used to spending two or three times as much on stuff that isnt even that great. Anyone could make money selling stuff to Apple consumers.

Re:Who can blame them? (4, Interesting)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314953)

Which is why they're making good money on the Apple market, right?

They don't come right out and say that, in fact it seems unlikely given their great concern over investing "a few thousand" in test hardware. Which seems like a dubious claim anyway, because it probably costs them little more than an email to get sample equipment from any given manufacturer. In fact, the whole story smacks of spintroll to me. After all, who except Apple cares about what a boutique game shop does not attempt?

Re:Who can blame them? (1, Interesting)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314923)

Quite right. They're clearly not cut out for the software business. They probably bought into the infamous lie that "anyone can take on a multinational corporation on the Internet." No, they can't. And these guys aren't going to make it either. It's not Android that's unsustainable. It's their business that's unsustainable.

Whoa, it seems you got hit by some driveby spinmodding.

Wah wah wah (0, Flamebait)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314431)

[sound of violins]

Too bad you had to actually do work to develop and support your app.

Re:Wah wah wah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314477)

If they are spending more money than they are getting then what do you want them to do? The fragmentation of Android is a serious issue that I am sure affects lots of developers. As new phones come out the problem only gets worse.

Re:Wah wah wah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314549)

... platform was losing money for the company, since it spent about 20 percent of its time supporting the platform

Sounds like for developers, Android is for mobile phones what the IE6 is for web development.

Re:Wah wah wah (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314887)

It seems to be the other way around to me.

iOS is like IE6: one particular implementation with a huge market behind it. It has its own particular set of bugs, but they're well-known and apply consistently everywhere, so the devs are used to working around them.

Android is like standard HTML 4: A definition of how things should be defined, and many implementations following that specification. Each implementation comes with its own set of bugs, so when your program expects a certain undefined behavior, it fails on other implementations than what you tested.

As with web development, there are two solutions. You can stick with the "one implementation to rule them all" model, and ignore the rest of the world hoping it will go away, or you can write your program from the ground up to be compliant with the One True Spec, and you can port over to other implementations more easily.

Re:Wah wah wah (4, Insightful)

unrtst (777550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314857)

If they are spending more money than they are getting then what do you want them to do?

The stats provided are damn near useless.

Let's hypothesize and say I develop some app. Let's count the app-specific dev time/costs as a separate baseline cost (cause that's how comparison of cost to maintain a port should start).
Now, out of my remaining monies, I spend 20% supporting "Android", and the rest (80%) supporting iOS.

Would it surprise anyone if the platform receiving SIGNIFICANTLY less of my attention ran into more problems, bugs, bad reviews, fewer purchases, etc?

I have no idea if that's what they meant by "20% of its time", but the other side of the coin is not even mentioned. It would be FAR more significant if they stated that they spent 5% of their time supporting iOS specific issues, 20% supporting Android specific issues, and 75% of their time improving core app and server functionality, and were still seeing 95% of their revenue come from iOS and 5% from Android.... but we just don't know.

The only fact I can see is that their software had numerous issues on Android. Maybe if they fixed those they'd actually be able to turn a profit - people don't like to pay for shoddy work.

It's EXTREMELY easy and common for businesses to spend more than they're making (ex. see restaurant turn-over). Plenty of people ARE making money though... so either you're spending too much, or you're not spending enough (assuming you're otherwise competent).

This company had other viable options, such as:

* go the hulu route - pick a small handful of officially supported devices, and add in device model restrictions. Only support those you can support well.
* spend more time/money, and make sure you've got everything supported so people don't hate on your product.
* combine those, and add devices as the beta/demo results show them working well.

IE. this isn't as much an Android story as it is a business story (and a really poor one at that - no real details at all).

And for the fanboy's ready to flame this... note I didn't say Android costs less to develop for or support. I'm only saying this "article" is for shit and doesn't provide enough to make any conclusions.

Re:Wah wah wah (2)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314481)

Of course it takes work, the question is if the work invested gives enough of a return to warrant doing it. Turns out it doesn't pay well so it gets dropped in favor of more profitable endeavors.

Re:Wah wah wah (2)

scottgfx (68236) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314485)

Too bad you had to actually do work to develop and support your app.

Which they apparently did for awhile, without a good return on their investment.

Re:Wah wah wah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314489)

He's doing the work to develop and support his app on the iPhone. That's working well for him.

What he's complaining about is that for android, he has to do the work to develop and support his app AND support a crippled OS as well. He's putting four times the development time into developing for android that he has to on the iPhone for the same amount of income.

Google should be supporting their broken OS, not developers - especially not when there's a bigger, better competitor that does it properly.

Re:Wah wah wah (5, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314503)

So they've done the right thing. They're not interested in sympathy; they found that a particular product on a particular platform was unprofitable, so they dropped it.

Re:Wah wah wah (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314553)

Development isn't a test of machismo or stoicism. The Android version wasn't making any profit for them. Time is money, and when you're having to do more more work than the sales you are making, it's a business decision to stop doing it.

iPhone is less work for much bigger sales.

Re:Wah wah wah (5, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314613)

App development for any mobile platform is a lottery. Most developers make very little from it. A few make tons of cash. Even on Android.

Re:Wah wah wah (3, Insightful)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314679)

It's not that iphone is less work. They started with a focus on IOS. It's more work to port a highly focused piece of software and they just couldn't handle multiple platforms being a 2 person team. What they ended up porting to Android was such a bug ridden POS that it didn't sell at all. That doesn't mean App's dont sell on the Android. Developers just have to make decent software for it. It's just as easy to make software for Android as it is IOS, given that you plan your project to include both. They obviously relied heavily on IOS frameworks. There is nobody to blame but themselves.

Re:Wah wah wah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314845)

I disagree there. iPhones are very similar to Mac's in that the hardware in them is relatively consistent hence software is more stable and compatible. With Android you get the benefit of a wider hardware variety but with the implication that software will not be as compatible across multiple vendors hardware, and their own custom Android builds. It is easy to see why they might have support issues with Android devices.

Re:Wah wah wah (2)

kwardroid (1466409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314879)

So they claim they spend 20% of dev and support time on the android versions. Now why was the last update to battleheary more than half a year ago?

Re:Wah wah wah (2)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314741)

Clearly, he didn't have to do the work. By not doing the work, his profit per hour went up. That the number of apps on Android went down is incidental to him, but probably not to Android users. Taken in aggregate, the end point is that there are fewer apps on Android, and even fewer really good apps, than on iOS. But that will be seen by Android users, no doubt, as "bad luck" in the Heinlein sense of the term.

Re:Wah wah wah (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314837)

The issue with android is you are developing for a moving target. A near infinite number of hardware/software combinations, and no way to test on all of them. That's not an issue of not wanting to do work, but having to do near infinite work for a finite amount of return is bad business.

What is (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314433)

Battleheart? What? Never heard of it.

Re:What is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314443)

Surely, in their house they know them well. I, for one, will not miss them (never heard from them too).

Re:What is (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314561)

If only your lack of knowledge meant the problem didn't exist.

Re:What is (3, Informative)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314685)

The problem is shitty port's don't sell.

Re:What is (1, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314639)

I've never heard of it either. That so I of course don't know how badly or well the app is written. The developer says it came down to the bottom line, the android version was a money loser.I'm not going to argue with him. But plenty of other developers seem to be ok with android, so I dunno. Weather or not the not the code was good, I think there is a point to be made the android's hard abstraction layer might need some work. Or perhaps the 3rd party hardware companies are not following their guidlines closely enough.

Re:What is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314671)

Battleheart? What? Never heard of it.

It's a really cool game. You should try it.

Sounds fair enough (4, Interesting)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314437)

But I can't help wondering if there is something wrong with the code that it struggled with different GPUs or crashes on new devices without special patches. Most code seems pretty robust to such things.

Re:Sounds fair enough (5, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314457)

For these devices (mobile devices) though the problem is that

1) you have to go pretty deep into the guts of these devices to get the performance required. I would compare it to some of the tricks that were used in the first 3D shooters like Doom etc. in order to render properly.
2) Not all device support the whole subset of whatever environment you may want to use. I think that was the main problem here is that you program a specific shader through eg. the OpenGL interface (is that even available on Android?) and then device x comes along and the manufacturer decided to either drop or not implement that feature in their GPU in order to save costs, brainpower etc.

Re:Sounds fair enough (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314599)

That's not the real problem, if the GPU doesn't support a feature you can fall back to another implementation. The problem arises when they don't properly advertise what features are available. OpenGL has this in the API, but most mobile drivers say they support features they actually don't have.

Re:Sounds fair enough (-1, Flamebait)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314709)

That's not the real problem, if the GPU doesn't support a feature you can fall back to another implementation. The problem arises when they don't properly advertise what features are available. OpenGL has this in the API, but most mobile drivers say they support features they actually don't have.

Ah no, that is also not the real problem.

The real problem lies with people who have the mentality that we should be even attempt to code 3D FPS games on devices that were designed to make phone calls and occasionally surf the web.

A tablet or cell phone is not a gaming machine. "Smartphone" is an oxymoron. And the only people trying to convince you otherwise are the people selling them.

Re:Sounds fair enough (0, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314861)

Only on Slashdot would such a moronic post get modded up.

Basically your stupid ass just said "The real problem lies with writing GPU powered software on these GPU powered devices."

Re:Sounds fair enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314899)

That's funny, I game pretty happily on my phone. It may be derived from a device designed to make phonecalls, but that's not what it is now.

Same as I game on my PC - also a device derived from something else, a data processing and home business machine. Bit more removed than my smartphone, but that's just a matter of months and years.

Re:Sounds fair enough (4, Insightful)

zieroh (307208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314941)

Ah no, that is also not the real problem.

The real problem lies with people who have the mentality that we should be even attempt to code 3D FPS games on devices that were designed to make phone calls and occasionally surf the web.

A tablet or cell phone is not a gaming machine. "Smartphone" is an oxymoron. And the only people trying to convince you otherwise are the people selling them.

FFS, get over it. It's 2012. Your fantasy about these being incapable devices ceased to be convincing three years ago.

Re:Sounds fair enough (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314947)

So we should never try to do something new?

Re:Sounds fair enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314695)

Nothing new, opengl sucked on windows, now on andoid. Both operating systems can run on great variety of hardware. Android needs directx.

Re:Sounds fair enough (2)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314699)

This game is a 2d tile based game. Doesn't take incredible rendering power to blit sprites.

Re:Sounds fair enough (5, Insightful)

mangobrain (877223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314937)

Have you looked at the specs of modern smartphones? Dual core CPUs are increasingly commonplace, with quad core on the way - in fact, already here in some of the high-end tablets. We're talking about Android devices here, not sub-£50 "feature phones". Comparing the tricks needed on this sort of hardware with what was required to squeeze performance out of DOOM-era PCs is an insult to the ingenuity of the programmers behind the early ground-breaking titles. OpenGL ES 1.0 has been available since API level 4 (Android 1.6), and 2.0 available since API level 8 (Android 2.2).

The primary language for Android development is Java. You *can't* go "pretty deep into the guts" from so high up; that's the very reason you can run the same bytecode on x86 and ARM devices. Yes, there's always the NDK if you really want to use C/C++, but if you stray outside the realm of the supported libraries then you deserve everything you get.

MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: I'm only just getting started with Android development myself. Still, I have to wonder how many of the problems lie with the platform, and how many lie with developers not really understanding what they're working with, assuming that the size and nature of the audience automatically turns mobile game development into some sort of free lunch.
        * We all know that GPUs have driver issues, but don't rule out the possibility that issues are really to do with your own code: in my limited experience with OpenGL on the desktop, it's easy to write something that only works on certain hardware because you have unintentionally violated the spec, for example by setting something outside its officially specified range of values, or assuming some default piece of state which the standards don't mandate. Unless you're writing the next Unreal, this is more likely than uncovering driver issues with your 2.5D platformer or simplistic first-person engine. Keep your rendering pipeline as simple as it can be.
        * Apps published on the marketplace had (until very recently) a size limit of 50mb. Anything above that had to be installed via a follow-up download within the app itself, which adds complexity, and increases the chances of failure. This limit has now been raised to 4GB, but before that, any developer blowing the limit ought to have thought long and hard about whether they really needed to before going down that route. Even if you get it right, there will still be scores of complaints from users who just don't understand that trying to download several hundred megabytes (non-resumable) over a patchy GPRS connection is just not going to end well, no matter how much care you take to warn them up front.
        * I could be missing something here, but it appears to me that Android doesn't hand-hold your application through state management, especially if you're using OpenGL. This isn't just about saving basic state such as high scores, but the much lower-level business of simply writing something which is robust in the face of how Android handles multi-tasking. Read up on what events can and cannot cause an app's EGL context to get trashed, and what exactly you need to do when that happens. Remember the bad old days not so long ago, when alt-tabbing was a good way to crash full-screen games on Windows? Well, those days are still with us, just not on the same platform.
        * Another good thing to understand is how to use the manifest. Declare what screen sizes and orientations you support, what texture format support you expect from the hardware, and so on. I have no evidence of this, but it wouldn't surprise me if some devices claim support for texture formats which they can't actually handle (those pesky GPU vendors), but hey, sometimes issues are out of the developer's hands - that's what trial versions are for, right?

I'm not saying it's easy. I don't fully understand how to navigate my way around most of the above issues myself, but rather than let it put me off, I'm trying to learn how to deal with them, so I can learn the best practices, push the specifics into a framework where possible, then use that as common ground for multiple apps.

Development is hard, especially game development; cross-platform game development more than doubly so. But the issue is not one of underpowered hardware.

Re:Sounds fair enough (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314765)

On one hand, I see that Angry Birds works on all android devices equally well regardless of graphics hardware or dimensions. On the other hand, I don't know anything about this other game, but it sounds like an entirely different style of graphics... not that different now that I see screenshots on the market. So I can't imagine what they are doing wrong.

But that said, I can't say that this is an "uncommon" problem. I see on lots of Android apps there are comments about "crashes on {model x}" and such. I can't help but wonder if they are doing it "PC style" or if they are following the documented APIs. When I say "PC style" I mean using shortcuts, work-arounds and direct hardware access to squeeze extra performance out of the machine. (From the very beginning of the IBM PC, programmers were writing directly to hardware to get more speed from the machine breaking all kinds of rules which would later prevent the i386 from becoming an effective multitasking machine from early on.

Now that I think about it, direct hardware access should be impossible because it's all Java-like isn't it? [Dalvik?] So I wonder what would be causing them so much trouble while others seem to do it seemingly effortlessly?

I must say, the game looks attractive though... maybe they'll release it free now that they are dropping support for it.

Re:Sounds fair enough (5, Interesting)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314849)

Angry Birds is a bad example. When Angry Birds first came out, there was an official list of 20 Android phones that it wouldn't support, including some then current phones.

Right now they claim there are some Android phones that it doesn't support.

http://www.rovio.com/en/support/faq&support_device=Android [rovio.com]

He's wrong. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314441)

I'm sorry, but this is just complaining from an Apple Fanboy. He's wrong on several points, and it's easy to see with a little thinking.

Android has what, four versions in the wild? iOS has 3, 4 and 5 taking up something like 15, 20, and 65% roughly. Not a great deal of difference there.

As for crashing, has he ever used an iOS device? Apps and the OS crash about equally to android.

And if your app is approaching Android's 4GB limit, then I'm sorry, but you're doing something REALLY wrong and should step back and take a look at efficiency,

This sounds like a complaint from a guy who is basically saying "Development is hard, and I don't want to work to make things good". Just as well he's calling it quits, shape up or ship out I say.

Re:He's wrong. (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314545)

I'm sorry, but this is just complaining from an Apple Fanboy. He's wrong on several points, and it's easy to see with a little thinking.

Android has what, four versions in the wild? iOS has 3, 4 and 5 taking up something like 15, 20, and 65% roughly. Not a great deal of difference there.

As for crashing, has he ever used an iOS device? Apps and the OS crash about equally to android.

And if your app is approaching Android's 4GB limit, then I'm sorry, but you're doing something REALLY wrong and should step back and take a look at efficiency,

This sounds like a complaint from a guy who is basically saying "Development is hard, and I don't want to work to make things good". Just as well he's calling it quits, shape up or ship out I say.

Yes, and his battleheart is obviously a gay fantasy game that will have much more demand from an apple audience.

Re:He's wrong. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314631)

Android has what, four versions in the wild? iOS has 3, 4 and 5 taking up something like 15, 20, and 65% roughly. Not a great deal of difference there.

You've conveniently ignored the hardware diversity.

This sounds like a complaint from a guy who is basically saying "Development is hard, and I don't want to work to make things good". Just as well he's calling it quits, shape up or ship out I say.

Yeah, fuck him for having limited resources and wanting to make a living out of a small business.

Re:He's wrong. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314651)

/. really is a pile of freetards who think they know everything. Do you really think Android has only four versions in the wild? Have you ever developed for Android? How about for iOS? Until you release some apps on both platforms you are officially ignorant of what is actually required and your opinion is not valid.

Re:He's wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314847)

So require either 2.3 GB or 4.0 ICS and be done with it. HE does NOT have to support 1.5 - 4.0 and he can still make money. This " I have to support all versions of Android and every handset no matter if it's a paygo phone or a Galaxy Nexus. " is a load of crap. Just like with Windows ... sometime the requirements exceed the install base of a version. If Windows 2000/XP can't do what a game requires then ... wait for it ... support is DROPPED.

This whole thing is a whiny excuse. Period.

Re:He's wrong. (2)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314681)

Let's look at the numbers: 20% of his development dollars is supporting 5% of sales. And the 5% is declining. Anybody who would keep developing for any platform in this environment is not a good business person.

Re:He's wrong. (3, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314903)

You're obviously not very good at math. If you're spending $X on development but still making $2X in returns, you end up losing $X by discontinuing development. That doesn't change just because you spent $4X on development on another platform and then made $20X. Losing $X is losing $X.

On top of that, have you considered that spending 20% of the time on a platform that has 50% of the users may be a bad idea? How about spending equal time on it, so that your app doesn't suck on that platform and your sales don't keep dropping?

Re:He's wrong. (1)

unrtst (777550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314943)

Let's look at the numbers: 20% of his development dollars is supporting 5% of sales. And the 5% is declining. Anybody who would keep developing for any platform in this environment is not a good business person.

Uh, you're not looking at the his numbers... you're looking at only 2 of them. That statement would make sense if he was developing for 5 platforms, 20% of his time to each, and getting 5% sales from one of them. If there are two platforms, and he's putting 20% to one and 80% to the other, it's no surprise he makes less on the one he barely supports! And anyone thinking that is not a good business person. (of course, there are too many unknowns to make either conclusion, but that didn't stop you)

Re:He's wrong. (4, Insightful)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314697)

Version diversity isn't the only kind. Implementation and hardware diversity matters too - for instance, I've run into a crash bug when attempting to start a new Activity from within a TabHost that only occurs on Galaxy S devices. That sort of thing is really incredibly frustrating, and makes QA far more of a pain in the ass than it should be.

Please at least read the summary before posting (4, Informative)

l00sr (266426) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314747)

The problem was having to support different hardware platforms, not different OS versions:

I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn't go through,' one half of the husband and wife duo said. 'We spent thousands on various test hardware.

Re:He's wrong. (0)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314751)

Um, no. Every different Android phone model has it's own particular version of Android, which is largely similar to other phones, but also different in important ways. Each manufacturer may have different revisions of drivers for the various chips in their phones [GPU, display, touch screen], which can have a great effect on how any specific application will work on that specific device.

And you seem to not really understand what he is saying. It's not "I made this one application for Android devices, and I found it really hard to make it work well and make decent money from it". He is saying "I made this application for both iOS and Android, and I have found that it is much harder to make it work well on the wide variety of Android devices out there versus the more limited range of iOS devices, and I make much more money from the iOS version".

To sum up, he'd rather work make aftermarket parts for only Mercedes Benz for $100/hour than make aftermarket parts GM or affiliate cars $20/hour

Re:He's wrong. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314921)

Because you know his revenue and expenses for the various versions so much better than him.

He says nothing about relative crash rates beteen Andoid and the iPhone, just that his app crashes on new phones and hence requires tweaking. That might be because his code sucks, it might be because the graphics libs are crap, it doesn't matter it's an extra support cost.

And it wasn't Android's 4GB limit, it was Android's 50MB limit. Sure Google just made a new way to get more data downloaded, but using that would require yet more development effort.

And no he's not saying development is hard. He's saying he make more revenue for each dollar he spends developing/supporting our product for the iPhone than he does for Andoid. In fact he's saying he spends more than he makes, and hence one particular platform is not worth the effort.

Seems to be common (5, Interesting)

trawg (308495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314447)

Just spent the week at the Game Developers Conference in SF and this seemed to be a bit of a recurring theme from having conversations with a couple mobile developers. The cost of supporting Android is too high in many cases and not worth the effort.

Once of the sessions I sat in on (can't remember who it was now, embarrassingly - I think it was PopCap talking about Bejeweled - not a bit player) pointed out that Android has many many variants on many different handsets. Even though the market size is roughly the same as iOS (his numbers were around ~250m each), iOS has way fewer variants to deal with, whereas Android had many. So you get to spend a lot of time messing around trying to make sure it's working on all platforms.

I've noticed from flicking through app reviews in the Market, it's not uncommon to see people with complaints about it not working on their particular handset. I haven't had this problem with anything I've tried so it's hard to tell how big a deal it is, but I don't use many apps.

The general feeling I got from speaking to a few indie developers was that they wouldn't bother doing an Android version unless their title turned out to be a big hit on iPhone.

Re:Seems to be common (0)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314509)

If the additional income was big enough they'd probably do that work but it seems the sales on Android aren't up to snuff either. Maybe it has to do with the terrible layout of the marketplace that makes it literally impossible to see apps that aren't in the top lists without knowing a name to search for.

Re:Seems to be common (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314877)

I think selection bias may also have something to do with it. Who is more likely to spend $5 on a game? Somebody who just spent $300 for a phone with a contract, or somebody who spent $50 for something comparable, assuming they didn't hold out for a $0 sale? Your android phone owner is also more likely to be on a network that costs less per month in the first place. From what I've seen iPhone/Pod owners are also much more likely to buy $30 cables, $30 protectors, and the $1000 Bose clock radio with a dock on it.

So, if the people who buy your phone are also the people who are loose with their money, then it stands to reason that you're going to make more money on app sales, even if there are more Android phones out there.

Now, if you were talking about accessories for BMWs vs Fords I could see how the latter could make money through volume (though the diamond-studded steering wheel cover will probably sell better on the BMW 7-series than on the Focus). However, when you look at iOS vs Android while Android has more volume it isn't such a huge difference that the sheer volume will make up for the fact that nobody wants to buy $5 apps.

Re:Seems to be common (2)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314533)

I've had a few flat out crash. 3D is right the hell out as is any decently functioning 2D. I can't get gingerbread because samscum won't release it as they'd have to go with stock android rather than their execrable UI extensions.

"Pocket Gods" did the support fandango and got rid of about every cool aspect of the game for android as a work around rather than bothering to make it work.

If I want a game machine I'll get a desktop. I won't be buying another samsung phone and will most likely stay away from their products. I don't like apple as a company but they do well with their product. I'll play with this almost smartphone of samsung's till it breaks and then get something I can depend will be supported.

Android does need some sort of baseline but it seems the cool and wanted features are not going to be standardized.

Re:Seems to be common (0, Flamebait)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314719)

There are three hundred million Android devices in the field, adding almost a million more every single day. If you can't profitably sell your application into that base, it's your problem.

Not at all surprising. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314465)

Its not surprising. They have to support as many devices and configurations as possible while at the same time deal with people who either expect having something for nothing or very close to it. This is exactly why iOS games and apps are much more polished.

How the free market works (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314469)

The developer feels he's spending more to develop for Android than he's getting back - so he decides to stop developing for Android.

I suppose that's interesting at some level, given past stories about Android developers not making money; but, in the end, it's just the free market operating rather than some amazing news item.

Re:How the free market works (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314487)

You don't get free markets with 800lb gorillas like Apple and Google in the room. Stop kidding yourself.

Re:How the free market works (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314557)

Let's not forget about EA. They're probably the most relevant gorilla in this context. Plus they're probably at a disadvantage in terms of experience when compared to developers that already have decades of experience dealing with "fragmentation" in the PC market.

Re:How the free market works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314583)

It's interesting enough. What are you looking for, cold fusion?

Re:How the free market works (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314735)

It's interesting enough. What are you looking for, cold fusion?

Sheesh. It's just a comment. I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition!

Re:How the free market works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314793)

The market will undoubtedly "take care of" this developer. Hope they have a plan for what to do when they go under.

Horrible Code (-1, Flamebait)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314535)

My guess is they wrote their game on top of the IOShit frameworks and the shitty port job they did wasn't compatible with anything except the cheap obscure android model's they bought to use in house. I am looking at their game, with it's incredibly complex 2d tile based engine, and wondering how shitty their code had to be that they couldn't support anything except 1 platform. This article would be less FUD if it actually went into the reasons why the Android platform is unsustainable. I suspect they just want to point fingers and absolve themselves of horrible coding practices.

Re:Horrible Code (5, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314565)

This article would be less FUD if it actually went into the reasons why the Android platform is unsustainable.

How about "sales are significantly lower"? They say they're making about 5% of their income from Android with the remaining 95% presumably from iOS (I doubt that Windows Phone is a factor). That would mean iOS gets 19 sales for every 1 sale Android gets. If this applies to more than this developer then it's a real reason to make iOS software instead of Android software.

Re:Horrible Code (0, Troll)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314629)

Sale's would be better if they didn't release a shitty port.

Re:Horrible Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314649)

Keep trolling bro. Someone is bound to believe your fandroid bullshit.

Re:Horrible Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314727)

It isnt even a port you moron. It is literally the same code. They use Unity for development. Don't comment if you dont know what the fuck you are talking about.

Re:Horrible Code (0)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314733)

Sale's would be better if they didn't release a shitty port.

Have you actually tried the product in question?

Of so, please tell us why the port is shitty. If not please STFU.

Frag smag (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314569)

This is the kind of BS that was stated when Windows was competing with Apple, and yet Windows won. I'm not a big Windows fan, but paying attention to history has it's advantages. I have to wonder if the frag whiners are all inexperienced brats who weren't around during the Windows/Mac wars?

Re:Frag smag (2)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314647)

Not the same. Different markets. And this is 25 years later. The market dynamics are completely different, and the choice of hardware that WIndows gave is not helping in this regard. Whilst many people will buy their Android phones and find them completely satisfactory, software makers have to choose between trying to make games work on as many handsets as possible to take advantage of the deep Android market, or intentionally ignoring a large portion of the market, not optimise their software for these handsets and fragment the market. It may not turn out to be as much of a problem as feared but, depending on the relative popularity of the better handsets compared to the more basic ones, it may mean that games have to be detuned to run on as much hardware as possible.

Wow (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314571)

And I thought Apple fanboys were bad. Android seems to be garnering its own set of rabid followers who disregard reality in favor of their favorite.

Context vs platform tweeking (3, Interesting)

bobby1234 (860820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314575)

I think you will find his complaint was that he was spending all his time making up for androids fragmentation and thus not producing content.

He uses Unity which is a great tool for doing much of the underlying work so the developer can focus more on the game. But if android is dragging him back to messing around with boring details (platform specific and multiple variation for that platform) then the cost/fun/productivity balance gets all wonky.

Re:Context vs platform tweeking (4, Interesting)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314675)

All mobile development is platform specific, whether you like it or not. Apple in particular always has an interest in making you develop for their platform only. The fragmentation of the market is deliberate and always occurs in the current *innovation space*. Same thing happened with web 'standards' (ECMAscript and W3C standards), same thing happened with 'operating systems' (until Java came and levelled most of the differences for the developers interested in doing cross-platform stuff), same thing happened in hardware.

At the mobile development is balkanized while the big players fight for turf. Who suffers? developers. It would have been nice to have proper Java work on the mobiles too (funny thing is, the early Apple devices actually had hardware JVM support, which Apple did not use) - that way developers would get a benefit of 'write once run everywhere, test everywhere' (which your JUnit and Continuous Integration environments help with - if you are smart enough to use them). However, every hardware manufacturer wants to do their own thing (just like sound, CPUs, disk drives, networking etc etc all used to have non-standardized interfaces in the past). The current mess on mobiles is Apple's fault as much as it is Google's. Face it, they just don't give a sh!t about developer needs, they just want to rule the mobile world and feel that trying to capture the market with non-standard interfaces helps themselves.

Re:Context vs platform tweeking (3, Insightful)

robmv (855035) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314729)

using Unity? so the real news here is that Unity must be crap on Android because that must be the work of the engine developer. Why do they write about different textures types support on each handset and things like that? Unity must be able to abstract all that if they want to be called a cross platform game engine

Where there's a will (marketshare) there's a way.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314587)

I feel the pain of devs who are used to the iOS one-size-fits-all method of developing. There are certainly problems with Android devices having so much variation from each other, and a baseline needs to be established for devs.

Still, where there's a will, there's a way. The PS2 was apparently extremely difficult to develop for - granted, for different reasons than Android - but since the system had such huge marketshare, developers made it happen. The same is true of Android to an extent,

iOS does have vastly superior frameworks for audio (Coreaudio) and other functions, and I wish Google would fast-track these types of frameworks to Android. However, iOS's frameworks were developed over the course of many years in OSX on the desktop, so they had a huge head start.

That said, as an owner of several Android and iOS devices, I have seen the reviews complaining that a game or app didn't work on a device, but I have very rarely run into these types of problems on my Galaxy S phones, now coming up on two years old.

Leave it to the pros (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314605)

Supporting Android apps is not that hard. You have OGL ES 1.0 and 2.0(+). If you keep these two versions apart and do not mix em up, you'll be ok. Considering the difficulty the couple is having (assuming their platform of choice is iOS), they might as well outsource the Android port to someone that knows knowing the odds and ends of the platform, instead of wasting precious time and resources.

It's true, Android can be a PITA, but not so if you know what you're doing (as with anything else in life).

Butthurt Developer Drops Android As Unsustainable (0)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314625)

That's what I read at first...

Guys, it's not Android Market (3, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314661)

it's Google Play now. Get with it.

The Real Issue Is... (0)

echusarcana (832151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314807)

...screen resolution. There is virtually no difference coding between Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, or the (largely unavailable) Ice Cream Sandwich. The problem is it take a decent programmer to work around different screen resolutions and most studios really can't be bothered.

I have to take issue with the comment that 'you have to invest thousands in hardware' because that is just bullshit. Really you just need to buy a $150 low end Samsung phone and you should be able to do just fine. Your development suite is free and is natively supported on a free operating system (Ubuntu). Lets compare to Apple where the premium hardware will set you back thousands just to get started.

The studio probably did nothing to promote their products. I've certainly neither of their two titles. It really isn't obvious why they even need OpenGL for a 2D game so why are they moaning about changing texture shaders. And complaining about a 4GB download limit?

Seems like they never really made the effort. I am SO TIRED of Apple propaganda.

Good (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314831)

One less shitty paid app on Android.
Seriously, Android do not need them. Android, as a platform, is doing fine, getting about 50% of worldwide smartphones sales. There are more free apps on Android than on iOS. I really don't see what the problem is. It's not as if Android was going to disappear because of the lack of paid games.

I'm over $10k in Android hardware. (3, Informative)

TodLiebeck (633704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314865)

And so far it's been a very profitable investment.

I am writing applications that require extensive hardware-specific testing (file manager, network-based stuff, system tools). I certainly have plenty of complaints about Android with regard to cross-device compatibility, and I've even found plenty of egregious omissions in the API (e.g., how do you find all user-writable storage without going down to /proc/mounts). That said, I find it to be an overall excellent platform. And it seems to pay the bills.

My only real complaint with the investment in devices is that I would love for cell carriers and/or Motorola/HTC/Samsung/etc to respond to my requests to have even slightly early access (or guaranteed release day access) to new devices. I'm sick and tired of visiting random cell phone stores who won't reserve product and lie about availability. And I'm tired of explaining that yes I want to pay full retail and no I do not want a contract no matter how much of a better deal it is.

OpenGL is the problem (4, Interesting)

rhysweatherley (193588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314901)

... but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs,

OpenGL has become a joke under Khronos. More and more of the work needed to render scenes is pushed back onto the application developer. Once upon a time you could specify the material, texture, and light parameters and IT WOULD JUST FIGURE IT OUT! The responsibility for making it run fast was up to the OpenGL implementer, not the application writer. Now you cannot draw a single triangle without a month's worth of effort to implement matrix math, texture uploading, and material lighting from first principles. And then do it all over again on the next device because the stupid chipset vendor decided that they couldn't be bothered making simple color interpolation work fast (I'm looking at you ImgTech).

The problem is not handset fragmentation. The problem is that the OpenGL API provides no guarantees about what will actually work and work well. It's all thrown back onto the application and the chipset vendors can then brush off bugs in their design with "our examples work great - obviously you don't know how to write shaders".

It's time the application (not chipset) developer community smacked Khronos upside the head and made them specify a USEFUL rendering API that guarantees good performance for application-level tasks, and decertify chipset vendors who are too lazy to do their damn jobs.

This is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314913)

This is just an excuse. If you're not making money it's because you aren't doing a good job at running your company and making products that people want. People making 2d cheesy games that are fun don't even have companies behind them half the time and do it only in their spare time and still make a decent amount of money. Hell, I make one app (not a game) that only targets a single phone and I bring in 300-600 a month. Maybe you need new programmers that can do what you're actually paying for, or better ideas.

"Unsustainable" How I start to hate that word... (3, Interesting)

dinther (738910) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314935)

But the proliferation of so many different devices is not only causing problems for this particular software developer. The so called cross platform web-application is getting harder to test as well.

Windows (Various versions), Linux (Various versions), OSX (Various versions), Android (Various versions)

each running

MSIE (Various versions), Firefox (Various versions), Chrome (Various versions), Opera, Safari and many other browsers

And somehow developers are to write an application that runs on all these combinations. It is a bloody nightmare. I long to the days there was only windows with the Win32 API to write for. Good debuggers, great IDE's and mature software dev tools. At the moment it is one steaming pile of disjointed crap.

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