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Game developers still not sold on Android

Cassandra Khaw | April 3, 2013
Though we're constantly buffeted by stories about new Android-powered game consoles and the continued growth of the Google Play Store, the fact still stands: An Android port seems to remain a footnote in development process, an afterthought, a thing that has to be done as opposed to the thing to do. Even today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a game that's exclusive to the Linux-based platform, or a developer willing to profess an undying affection for "Android. People might make Android games, but they don't seem like it.

Android gaming stinks

Such overwhelming positivity for the Google Play Store is not universal, of course. Pocket Tactics editor Owen Faraday, who expounded on Android gaming for Wired sometime ago, called the marketplace "a desolate wasteland."

Faraday went on to cite a variety of developers, many of whom seem to see Android as a necessary evil that's plagued by digital pirates. Piracy is a particularly vicious issue. Sports Interactive's studio director, Miles Jacobson, once reported a staggering 9-to-1 piracy rate for Football Manager Handheld. And while still determined to provide support for Android users, Madfinger Games' Anna Porizkova previously divulged to Gamasutra that the piracy rate for Shadowgun had, at one point, reached 90 percent before eventually dwindling to a still-striking 78 percent.

Nicholas Vining, chief technical officer of Gaslamp Games, has been working in the industry for well over a decade and is, despite his work on various open-source and Linux-related projects, somewhat dubious about the profitability of the platform. "The people I used to do contract [work] for typically found that Android made [them] about 1 percent of what they made on iOS--if they were lucky. If that's the case, we would never make our money back doing a Dredmor port, and would probably end up losing cash on the deal."

Even more telling is the stuff that has not been directly spoken. Chair Entertainment put the gorgeous-looking Epic Citadel in the Google Play Store only this January--a full three years after the tech demo was first shown. Is it a positive indication of things to come? Maybe. Maybe not. In an interview with Mashable in 2011, the Mustard brothers intimated that piracy concerns were one of the major problems keeping the Infinity Blade franchise from Android users.

"We're confident that will be worked out and [the Google Play Store] will become a viable place for game developers, but that hasn't happened yet," Donald told Mashable. "So it's not the tech, it's the business platform."

It's March 2013 now, and piracy hasn't yet stopped being an issue.

Here's another example of developers' dissatisfaction with Android. Telltale Games blew away both the press and the public with its Walking Dead point-and-click adventure game. Like the comic book series and the TV show before it, the game gathered an awe-inspiring number of accolades: In total, the game, which is split into five episodes, has won over 80 'Game of the Year' awards. With so much going for the game, an Android port should have been inevitable, a guarantee for even more success. To the dismay of Android users everywhere, however, that much-anticipated port never happened.

In an interview with the PA Report, Telltale Games provided only a nominally favorable explanation of why an Android version of The Walking Dead has yet to happen.


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