Gizmodo recently sat down with Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney for a talk about gaming, mobile platforms, and the Sony NGP. Naturally, one of the topics at hand was Android, and, more specifically, why there are no Epic titles for the platform.
Epic Games has been producing iOS games for some time using the Unreal Engine, which provides detailed graphics and better gameplay. However, as Android users, we have never had the opportunity to see these types of games on our devices, and there seems to be good reason for that. No, it's not Google's fault. It's not Android's fault. It's not even the handset manufacturers' fault. It's the carriers' fault. According to Sweeney, carriers are putting so much bloatware on phones that it creates a lack of consistency with memory.
In order for a high-caliber game like most of Epic's titles to run properly, a certain amount of RAM must be available to the game. With iOS, devs can rest assured that there will be a specific amount of memory available for gameplay - even on devices like the iPad with only 512 MB - because Apple carefully controls what is allowed on its devices. By contrast, the more things that are installed (or pre-installed, in this case), the less memory is available. Sweeney used this example to define the issue more clearly:
If you took the underlying NGP hardware and shipped Android on it, you'd find far far less performance on Android. Let's say you took an NGP phone and made four versions of it. Each one would give you a different amount of memory and performance based on the crap [the carriers] put on their phone. Google needs to be a little more evil. They need to be far more controlling.
It appears to me that if we ever want to have the same experience that you can get on other platforms, Google will need to address more than just manufacturers' additions to Android - they'll need to gain control of carriers' contributions as well.