12
Mar
unnamed

If you've never heard of Mika Mobile, that's not a huge surprise - they're a small, but fairly successful mobile game developer that focuses primarily on iOS. Their number one title (in terms of recent sales) is Zombieville USA 2, which has over 68,000 ratings on the App Store, and the most recent version of the game has averaged 5 stars. So we're clear, that's no small feat.

Their first game, Zombieville USA, was released for Android last July. I reviewed it and, frankly, wasn't a big fan (particularly because the first release seemed plagued with bugs). It's a relatively mundane time-killing side-scroller in which you button-mash zombies to death with a variety of weapons and characters. Of course, the iOS version of the original Zombieville came out around 3 years ago, so by the time it reached Android it wasn't exactly the visual or technical pinnacle of mobile gaming. Looking back 3 years, though, I can see why it was so popular.

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Battleheart

Mika's most critically lauded title, though, has been Battleheart; a simple but highly addictive action RPG. And it hasn't been updated on Android in 8 months. Why? Because Mika is tired of tailor-fitting it to a myriad of GPUs, OS versions, and other device-specific factors. In fact, Mika is so distraught with the difficulties of developing for Android that it has decided to halt all of its Android endeavors indefinitely, with no apparent plans to return. And yes, the announcement is a little on the dramatic side - perhaps a little too dramatic.

And so, your first response may be "So what? Their loss." Don't be so hasty - Mika makes some compelling points about the difficulties of cross-platform development, and the weaknesses of Android as a content distribution platform (Market/Play - whatever you want to call it), particularly for paid apps.

Money, Money, Money

The bottom line is that the return didn't justify the investment. Mika says it spent 20% of its total development time last year on the process of porting two of its games to Android and then tweaking those titles for individual devices. It could never even get Battleheart to work on Galaxy S phones, because they can't download .apk's larger than 30MB with stock software. For all the months of "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," Mika claims it never made a profit off either of its Android games.

In fact, the company's revenue in the last year is split at a startling 95/5 - you can guess which one is Android. But Android is growing, right? So that percentage should be going up, yeah? It's not. In fact, it has actually started to go down. While that's very understandable when you don't update your titles for over 9 months, given the exceeding popularity of Mika's games on iOS, you would think Android could provide renewed interest in some of its older titles. But it hasn't.

Zombieville lingers at a sizable but not particularly impressive 50,000-100,000 installs, as does Battleheart. And let's be clear - that isn't exactly peanuts. After Google's cut, Mika's revenue from Android is anywhere from $140,000-$280,000 over the course of about three quarters. That means that, based on the 95/5 split, their iOS revenue was anywhere from $2,800,000-$5,600,000+ during the same period.

Back in 2009, Zombieville USA had already racked up over 500,000 paid downloads in the App Store, and over a million for the free, ad-supported version. Since then, Mika has released 3 other titles (Zombieville 2, OMG! Pirates, and Battleheart).

Still, Mika claims that based on time spent, testing hardware, and other costs that it still managed to lose money on Android. I'm not quite buying that. Mika Mobile is also the definition of a small developer - the entire company is composed of two people, a couple. And while it is their full-time endeavor, based on these napkin-math revenue projections, I seriously doubt they're hurting because of the time they "wasted" on Android. I do wonder how they value their "time," as well - if they consider themselves worth $500 an hour, then yes, maybe they "lost" money.

But was it a smart business decision to port their titles to Android? From a time/money perspective, maybe not - and I think this is more what they're getting at.

To Port Or Not To Port

I don't want to veer off too far on that tangent, because Mika still raises some clearly valid concerns about releasing an app on Android from the I'm-running-a-business-here standpoint.

If you're someone like Gameloft, Rovio, or EA, these aren't problems you really care about as much. You throw man-hours at the porting process, or just develop the iOS and Android versions simultaneously to avoid some of those later headaches in the first place. Sure, you might not even turn a profit on the Android version, or the profit may not be significant enough to get excited over, but you're getting your foot in the door. And who knows, maybe Google will do something revolutionary and get everyone on Android excited about buying apps all of the sudden. Or not. But the point is this: you develop for Android because it's like the gamble you can't turn away from - one day, maybe, you'll strike it rich with that massive user base. And you can't do that by ignoring it.

It seems Mika, though, has decided it has spent enough time looking for its breakout Android product. And don't think Mika's experience is unique, either.

While at MWC, we spoke to a developer of a very high-profile iOS / Android game that has been extremely well-received by users on both platforms (we don't have permission to divulge which developer). In no uncertain terms, he said that developing for Android alone would seemingly never be a possibility. Without iOS, the company as a whole would not be financially viable. Still, he said developing for Android brought the company "some" profit (though not much), but that iOS was without a doubt the real breadwinner.

He went on to discuss the many headaches of developing for so many different Android devices, and how it resulted in the quality of gameplay on Android as a whole being lower than that of iOS. These are particularly pertinent issues for game developers, for whom the fluidity of the user interface and controls are absolutely paramount to the reception of their product. Getting these things right across a gamut of devices, as opposed to a few (whatever the last 2 generations of iPhone and iPad are), takes time and effort, and inevitably results in some compromises.

For Mika, and other small developers (particularly indie game developers), the problem is compounded by the physical limitations of what can be accomplished in a limited time frame. Do you spend your time porting your title to Android and debugging so you can get it up and running on the majority of devices, or do you just say "screw it" and spend that time polishing and developing better content for the iOS title you know has a far greater chance for profitability? Or, better yet, do you just move on to your next game that you're probably way more excited about in the first place?

To Conclude

It's not hard to see why developing a paid title for Android might be discouraging, especially a game - getting exposure in the Play store (any app store, really) is difficult, there are dozens of popular devices out there to support (along with various OS versions), and Android users are generally much less likely to pay for apps in the first place. It's not exactly a friendly atmosphere in that regard.

Foremost, Google Play and its accompanying executive shuffle should do something to make Android more attractive for these cross-platform ventures. Apparently Andy Rubin actually considered the content arm of Android a "secondary" concern to device activations and search ad revenue - which is a bit befuddling to me. Without good apps, a smartphone is pretty worthless, and I think Google should definitely be doing more to encourage and make it easier for developers to bring their ideas to Android, as well as to expose them to end users. Let's face it, the on-device Play Store is an absolute mess to navigate unless you know exactly what you're looking for, or want to buy an app that's been on the "Editor's Choice" list for the last 6 months.

And you're not off the hook, either, manufacturers - making good on those promises to cut down on device releases would make a lot of developers happy, too. And maybe you should all finally decide on a display resolution that you can actually stick to for a while.

I think we can all agree, Mika Mobile leaving Android isn't a sign of some impending indie-game-developer mass exodus. But it is a clear indicator that straddling the iOS/Android fence can cause more problems than some companies may be willing to deal with at this point - practically and financially. The last thing any of us want to see is Android be a bar to the entry of good ideas, or worse yet, causing those good ideas to leave. Let's hope that the Google Play rebrand/restructuring and more focused product cycles from handset makers will provide some much-needed certainty in the coming year for those creative and intelligent people we should all try to make life easier for: developers.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Matt Bernard

    This guy is a clown. People like this guy should not be highlighted by this site. It is basically a self hating article and I find it incredibly counter-intuitive to the growth of the dev community. Besides the specs on our droid army devices are becoming homogenized with most the cpu/gpus being Sammy's, Snappies, or Tegras.

    There are many droid games that are popular and on iOS they are dead as a doornail. iOS is buggy as sheet. This argument can go both ways because of that.

    • Jose

      Care to back that statement up?

    • Jose

      "iOS is buggy as sheet."

      Care to back that statement up?

      Edit feature seems to have disappeared!

      • jj

        IOS apps crash far more often than Android. This was reported on several sites about a month ago.

        • Circs

          I love android as much as most anyone but unsourced claims are without any merit hence your post is tagged as: [Citation needed]

        • Ravi Shah

          are you kidding me? i run the same apps/games on my 3 year old ipod touch on my new nexus s and they crash a lot more on the nexus. Same deal with my ipad 2.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      I'll agree, the guy is a clown (frankly, look at the games, they aren't that great). The fact that he did ports, which don't appear to have been done that well, and didn't consider that a number of Android users probably bought/played his games already and aren't going to purchase them again...well, not very well thought out if you ask me. Further, I get the distinct impression that he doesn't understand that a 2-person shop (made up of a couple?!?!) is probably over-extending themselves by trying to build and maintain a fair number of games across two very different platforms.

      However...while this particular developer probably shouldn't be highlighted, it doesn't change the issue at hand, game development on Android is a hot mess. Strictly speaking, we don't even need to limit the subject to just games as supporting each major batch of resolutions and pixel densities is tedious for any app using more than a few icons. There are real concerns that businesses have to consider and they are getting at least slightly better support from Apple and way better support from Microsoft. It doesn't do Android any good to pretend that there aren't problems that need fixing. Off the top of my head, there's at least 4 current processor families (OMAP, Exynos, Snapdraggon, Tegra) and that doesn't count various processor versions, off-brands, and the older ones that tons of people are still using...nor does it make mention that there's multiple Android versions to account for. Developing for iOS, in this one regard, is simply easier...of course, being stuck using a 20-year-old language that's missing basic features is a drawback...

      Side note, while 'counter-intuitive' isn't technically wrong in context, I think you meant 'counter-productive'.

      • Scott Kennedy

        As a developer on some fairly large games:
        "supporting each major batch of resolutions and pixel densities is tedious for any app using more than a few icons" - This is a trivial process. If you think it's "tedious" or difficult, you're doing it wrong.

        "there's at least 4 current processor families (OMAP, Exynos, Snapdraggon, Tegra) and that doesn't count various processor versions, off-brands, and the older ones that tons of people are still using...nor does it make mention that there's multiple Android versions to account for" - This has never caused me any problems.

        The only issues I've had are when OEMs do something stupid or wrong. It's not common, but it's not rare either.

        The bigger problem seems to be iOS developers who think that Android is the same thing, and they do things the way they did them on iOS, and then they wonder why it's buggy, or it doesn't magically work on all screen sizes. If you design a game for iOS, it's not going to work well on Android. If you design a game taking into account that you will have different screen sizes, densities, and hardware configurations, you don't run into any of the issues people are always complaining about.

        tl;dr: If you only look at the square holes when you design your peg, don't whine when it doesn't fit in a round hole.

        • Luly

          Well said sir. I'm not an Android game developer but I've written a few apps.

          I'm surprised that many developers failed to realize such simple and basic knowledge.

        • Mark

          The different GPU's have caused me a few problems, but I'll agree they're not that major.

          Had a game that would show up black on anything Exynos because Mali doesn't support high resolution floats in shaders and back in the day of the OG Droid and N1, I ran into the SGX-whatever in the Droid having less space for VBO's available.

          Outside that, there's been some minor niggles with certain things slowing down certain chips, but nothing major or noteworthy.

        • Mark

          Wish there was an edit button... that should be high PRECISION floats, not high resolution

        • behelit

          My thoughts exactly:

          "The only issues I've had are when OEMs do something stupid or wrong. It's not common, but it's not rare either."

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

          Careful distinction, I never said that converting graphics for multiple resolutions was difficult (though, if you want make it look really good, it's usually more than just scaling from hdpi to ldpi). Tedium, by definition, is something that's slow and boring...I stand behind my point. For developers who care about how their games look on all supported resolutions, they are also testing on all of those resolutions. The whole process takes a fair amount of time to do right, and the more time you're spending on scaling graphics and testing on each variant is less time you're spending adding features or working on other games.

          It's great that you've never had problems coming from varied hardware, I've seen lots of examples on various forums of people who have.

          I don't think you entirely understand what I was trying to say. If you haven't noticed, most people on here aren't developers and assume that we magically draw some symbols and stuff just works (or worse, that writing software is as simple is changing values in a couple of scripts like they've seen on XDA). On the other side, a lot of people flip out over certain devices being unsupported without understanding that there may be reasons. I'm pointing out some of what developers on Android are dealing with. Notice, my points were simplified and directed at a non-programmer, so it's muddled to adjust them directly to you.

          Clearly, good coding practices can work around most of the complications, but the more hardware variations there are, the more complications will arise. If there were laws of software engineering, that would be one of them.

          As I said before, there are problems with developing for the platform (like any platform). Some problems aren't going away (like hardware variations, nor should they go away), but there are ways to alleviate many of the sticking points. I'm saying that it doesn't help to ignore that there are (legitimate and less childish) developers who are leaving the platform for legitimate business reasons, some of which are caused by legitimate technical hurdles, and it's foolish to ignore that message in favor of pretending Android is flawless.

        • http://ggkthx.org/ Sumatori-kun

          "This has never caused me any problems."

          Yeah, that's just you.

          Objective-C and Java are HOLY-FUCKING-SHIT similar (considering they're both OOP languages). The problem is optimizing applications for devices.

          If we can just concentrate on one or two SoCs, then Android would take off a lot better.

        • JAlexoid

          I have to agree. Porting a well thought out UI from Android to iOS is easy. iOS UI porting to Android is a horrendous task, because assumption with iOS design is fixed pixel count.

          Interestingly enough, I've never heard the guys behind Unity3D complain about pixels, screen sizes or GPU's.

      • Mark

        "supporting each major batch of resolutions and pixel densities is tedious for any app using more than a few icons"

        That's both true and not true. Really, the problems that crop up for an app that have to do with pixel densities and resolutions basically come down to the layouts, and, more specifically, images. If you're developing a 2d game that uses the basic canvas to render it, then you need to worry a lot about this.

        Anything more simple than that, and the OS basically takes care of it for you. Anything involving OpenGL is completely taken care of for you by the openGL library.

        I've worked on a few OpenGL ES 2.0 games and literally had to do 0 work in order to have the main gameplay work flawlessly across resolutions and pixel densities.

  • http://justreboot.wordpress.com deidein

    I was talking about this on Twitter the other day. It boils down this simply - a message for Android users everywhere.

    If you love an app, buy it. If you like an app, click its ads. Without revenue, good developers quit. When all the good developers quit, you're left with noobs and crap.

    Don't be left with noobs and crap.

    • http://androidpolice.com GAL O

      I accidently click ads once in awhile. Does that make you feel better?

  • westy

    man excuse my language but F%$K THEM! They are iOS fan boys and they can leave. I bought their battleheart game and loved it. They refused to update it because of the file size limit but then google increases that and they just turn around and say we arent going to do the update because there's no money in android. Well news flash people download quality apps and apps that have good developers that care about their user base. I personally started to boycott them and spread the word to all of my friends not to buy their games because they dont give a crap about us. You treat your user base like crap and you get crap back.

    • Jose

      Have you ever considered it might be about other things e.g. having to support multiple GPU's, CPU's and OS versions?

      Oh and how does it make them "iOS fanboys" for choosing the platform that rewards their efforts substantially better?

      • Luly

        If they can't support more than one OS then simply don't!

        You can't be using the same business model with same codes and expect to generate the same amount of revenue on DIFFERENT OS. They are different OS for a reason.

        I wish they've learnt something - the iOS business model probably doesn't work on Android. *surprise*

        LOL.

  • Ion

    To be honest, after having my tablet for 6 months, i regret not getting an ipad.
    I hate that I have to wait months until ics upgrade (if that) to use my device at max capabilities - opposed to ios thats available on the first day, that not all apps in the market are compatible.

    Ive gone past the days in which i was interested to know all the hidden things in a pc/os.

    I just want something that works.

    After the release of windows 8 for tablets... im gonna threw my first and only android device on the windows. :))

    • https://plus.google.com/101323045581417437154 Pedro Cusidor

      you want a true android experience with fresh releases of os like ios get a nexus device. its the only device controlled by google. Stop with this fragmenting bs, if you want the HTC, Samsung, LG, Acer, Toshiba...ect ect experience dont bitch about the lack of ics. they will release their versions of ics flavors when they want.

      • Alex

        Thank you Pedro. You deserve a cookie.

        -Chillen with my Galaxy Sexus

      • Scott Kennedy

        Can you show me where I can buy a nexus tablet?

        • Ribbys

          ASUS TF Prime is pretty much a Nexus device...

          Also, I love how so many apps arent available or do not work in full screen on my iPad 2. Its just great for using the browser.

          Tablets have a long way to go to be as useful as a dual core phone.

        • http://modaco.com Simon

          Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi is pretty much a Nexus tablet. As long as it's running US firmware then it's a Google Experience Device running pure stock Android.

    • cosmic

      I'd rather be an update behind and have all the new features vs being on the same update and having features missing.

  • http://www.arcane.org Mystech

    Shrug, another niche opens up on Android for other developers. Best of luck, Mika Mobile. Sorry you couldn't cut it outside the garden.

  • Michael

    So you don't update your app in 8 months and wonder why no one buys it? You complain about the cap that Google puts on app size and they increase it and then you say you're leaving Android? Other developers had ways around the app size issue, why is it that Mika had such a problem? I think they just don't like Android.

  • http://www.androidapphighlights.com Leif

    Just take a look at those kind of developers - they're always the same kind of devs who fail.

    They port their game from iOS (ports are already often not that good), the first they put in their App descriptions is "Number 1 Hit on iOS is finally coming to Android!!!" and make the fault to be a paid only app.

    1) Ports, who look like iOS App and doesn'T get seriously addapted to Android App UI and behavior will barely get featured in the Market.

    2) If the first sentence in an App description is about how successful it was on iOS you should get sceptical. It's like saying "you've to fall on knees because we ported it to Android"...

    3) After so many years of Android most developer should know that paid only apps won't work. People want to try how well an App runs on their device before they buy. The 15 minute giveback time was to short, especially until the raise of the downloadsize weeks ago. Most people doesn't even know they could give it back I guess.
    Lock at the developer of WindUp Knight who have been successful in Android Market. you get the game for free, after playing and enjoying a few levels it offers you a one time special offer to buy full game for xx bucks. If you decide not to pay you can still play but maybe have to use multiple inApp purchases later which might get more expensive if you fail too often in some levels. That's a working business model on this plattform.
    Or ad based business Models - those games a very successful too.

    • Luly

      You've pretty much nailed the problem!

      They based everything on iOS and complain whatever that don't work the same way as iOS. Seriously?

      If anyone is writing codes for one app and hopes it will work on all OS/platforms with minimal or no tweak at all, he/she is doing it completely wrong.

    • crackinthewall

      The paid only route will work for iOS ports because you would have seen the app featured somewhere. Let's face it. iOS is an ubiquitous platform. If you don't know someone who uses an iPhone, you probably know someone who has an iPod Touch and those devices have been touted as a gaming device by Apple. When app developers says that their app was number 1 on the iTunes app store, they're not saying what they think you say. What they're trying to say was that the app did well on iOS in manner to boost their credibility. Do you know how many apps from new developers you see that don't get downloaded/bought because no one knows or trusts the developers?
      Yes, the 15 minute refund window sucks. If you're nice enough, some devs would even give you a refund after 15 minutes if you send them a quick mail. But such money grabbing tactic by the developers of Wind-up Knight is no better. In app purchases to get the full app experience gets more expensive as you move on in the game. Wouldn't it be better if the developers are upfront about the real cost of their apps?

      • http://buggin.me Phil

        I can't agree. If you're a dev you know good and well there's alot of polarization between the platform's users. You think its just confined to fanboys online? Think again. Though somewhat friendly I have people going at it with me about iOS vs Android that aren't techie in the slightest. You bring your app to Android touting iOS and some folks that turn away. Those folks that turn away don't share it with friends and it multiplies.

        I said it elsewhere but look at the video they have for their game on the market. They didn't even bother to change the end to say available for Android. It says available for all iOS devices. If you treat Android like a second class citizen you will get second class downloads. Simple as that.

        • drksilenc

          ding ding ding we have a winner.

  • Dandmcd

    Ok, this clown went on a hatred rant about Android many months ago, why is he resurfacing yet again? The guy tried to claim the limitation on downloads was why he quit, even though everyone pointed out many many other games that support downloads of files after the apk is installed. Then his rant turned into how "difficult" it is to support so many devices, which is simply not true unless you are terrible at coding.

    Of course he made no profit, he never supported the popular Android devices, and never bothered to fix his game and update it. Sadly he still lists it in the market for money despite not supporting it in the least.

    For every 1 developer that leaves, there are 10 new ones taking his place coming out with new innovative and fun games. The Android gaming world is doing just fine, and looks to keep getting better. Just look at Android Police's biweekly lists of new games coming out, I never run out of games to play.

  • Reverend T

    There are some knowledgable commenters on Ars Technica (I love that site). The first gut nails the technical problem:

    "If you read about Battleheart's problems in more detail, you find that they made the horrendous mistake of using custom OpenGL shaders. Fairly obviously, those need testing on all the different kinds of Android GPU hardware. So yeah, it doesn't surprise me that they ended up spending a lot more time testing on Android than on iOS."

    So they didn't go with the Open GL 2.0 ES standard. This made their lives hell. I'm betting that a lot of smarter developers are taking note.

    • http://ggkthx.org/ Sumatori-kun

      That shouldn't matter. If the devices have properly-made GPUs, then they should all conform to the OpenGL 2.0 ES standard and still have EXTENSIBILITY.

      Basically what you said makes the iPT/iPhone sound better because it's standardized around the SGX 540.

      • drksilenc

        he didnt use shaders that were standard in opengl es 2.0 thats the issue. he used custom shaders that didnt conform to the standard in place.

        • Mark

          There ARE no custom shaders in OpenGL ES 2.0. The Primary difference between 2.0 and the versions before it is the complete eradication of the fixed pipeline, you have to write your own shaders or it just doesn't work.

        • Mark

          ARG, there needs to be an edit button. That should say "There ARE no standard shaders..."^

  • http://buggin.me Phil

    Ok look. I think we are thinking about this the wrong way. Homogenize the Android ecosystem making it dead simple to build a game (though I don't think it takes this at all) and guess what....people still won't buy the game and devs will still complain that its a waste of time.

    So lets address the real problem. Why aren't people buying games and apps etc? Might it be because they actually don't like the games and apps in question? I can see the same thing happening with this Instagram release coming up. Android users won't care for multiple reasons and the Instagram folks will say its a waste of time to develop for Android vecause no one uses the app. So is the answer to encourage people to use stuff they don't like so they can get more apps they don't like?

    Then there's the possibility that many people develop a don't give a crap attitude about apps because they go to iPhone first and then waaaaaaaay down the line come to Android. When they come people are like fnck that. So is there any data on how well Android first apps and games have done? How do the devs of Android first apps and games feel about developing for Android? What happens when they go to iOS? Because I also have a feeling that many of these devs are iOS fanboys that had their first experience with programming on iOS and expect everything to work that way.

  • Mike

    But in general, the game sales figures do lean (heavily) to iOS. Further impressive, someone's buying/playing these games on 3.5" screens. I don't see how these two go together.

    • Luly

      User base perhaps? Many iOS users buy the phone/ipads to play casual games but I've never heard of anyone buying Android to play games.

      Call it a coincidence but among all my friends who use Android, ALL of them are either a console/pc gamer who are simply not interested in playing casual games on a phone.

  • L boogie

    Sure, it's easy to develop for the ios platform being that the developer is dealing with one operating system for a set of devices whereas, any developer creating apps for android have to utilize any/ all factors to work from 2.2 - 4.0+. Sure carriers/ manufacturers can carry some of this bad press; delayed-to-halted updates, excessive device launches etc but developers have managed to bypass this hurdle to deliver some positive experiences on the Android platform. Not updating your apps for 2/3 of the year and then throw in the towel to the ecosystem doesn't mean the end of the world because there would be developers who would continue to move the Android universe forward, just ask the developers behind pocket legends on how they became profitable

  • spydie

    big deal. a 2-person company with games that have very low graphic appeal? They'll never be missed.

  • john wilkinson

    I still find it hard to think of my phone\tablet as a games platform, touch controls for me just don't work... now if Android tablet games supported things like a bluetooth keyboard\mouse such as the ones for the xoom then that would be a different story... shadow gun would rock...

  • JohnP

    Too bad for them. All the better for us, as we won't have to listen to their whiny rants anymore.

    I get really sick of developers using fragmentation as an excuse why they can't develop for Android. You know what platform is fragmented all to hell, yet is the most used computing platform in the world and has millions upon millions upon millions of "apps"? The PC. Software developers have been working with fragmentation for decades, and they've created some amazing stuff, anyway. The problem with phone developers is that they became spoiled by Apple. They ignored important basics, like scale and flexibility.

    There is nothing wrong with fragmentation because another word for "fragmentation" is "choice." Consumer choice, specifically. Competition, progress, price drops. You see those things with Apple? Nope, but Android hardware is advancing at an amazing pace, while hardware prices are falling like rocks.

    • http://ggkthx.org/ Sumatori-kun

      Fragmentation is THE MAIN PROBLEM with Android.

      It's not the multiple versions of the underlying OS.

      It's not the fact that the platform is Java-based.

      It's the multiple versions of hardware that developers have to deal with.

      Cut down on the multiple SoCs, then the platform will converge. I don't see how "choice" is a matter here when the high-end phones/Android devices are the same price as an iPhone 4S.

      • anamika

        Yeah. Stop the multiple Socs. Let have a 1 or 2 companies making Socs. Why bother with competition.
        Lets go one step ahead why have so many companies, developers making multiple apps with same features. Let there be 1 or 2 developers for any particular app. This should basically improve quality right.

  • Jyve

    Fair comments by the Dev. In such a position, with the game design/art assets done, would seem to make sense to get someone else to make the game/support it and work out revenue splits from there. Shame to have that effort wasted.

    Or...
    If that much of a pain to support odd configuration, set the manifest to not support those devices...

  • Luly

    Cut down on devices released?
    Which device should be cut down and how it should be judged? And most importantly, who should be making this decision and why?

    You've got the cause and symptoms of the problem all wrong.

  • EPM

    Making money on Android isn't a problem for just this dev, or a few devs, it is ALL devs. I'm going to link a graph and an article if you want to read them. They are from AppleInsider so feel free to keep your head in your ass and flame without reading or ignore the post altogether.

    As a developer I can tell you supporting Android vs. supporting iOS is like supporting Windows games vs supporting Console games. You have a fixed (or limited change) hardware platform so you don't have to do as much work. Now if Android apps were selling like PC games do, then the work would be worth it. But the difference between iOS and Android in terms of overall sales is rediculous: http://photos.appleinsider.com/piper-111121.jpg

    Here is the full article. Not as much Fanboyism as there usually is.

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/03/11/android_platform_manager_steps_down_after_failing_to_fix_app_sales.html

    • drksilenc

      ahh There is one key thing you are missing is that most app's on android are free add supported and do quite well despite this. Why pay for an app if all you have to deal with is a little add aka angry birds. The top paid apps on android are productivity and root apps aka titanium backup and things like that.

  • Droid Doesn’t

    Android is fragmented junk and most users are either pirates or cheapskates. Not hating, just telling it like it is.

    • scott

      Troll on little boy, it's amusing.

      • http://ggkthx.org/ Sumatori-kun

        He's right though.

        • scott

          If you say so, then it must be true.

      • Droid Doesn’t

        You might wanna take a look at paid app downloads and developer revenue stats. I too was an Android user once, but I got tired of subpar hardware(that will be obsolete a month after purchase), bug infested OS that can't even smoothly scroll between home screens with a dual core CPU and apps that look like they fell down the ugly tree them were beat with an ugly stick for good measure. Android experience is so deplorable compared to iOS or even WP7(that somehow managed to run buttery smooth on ancient CPUs) that I'd rather not have a smart phone then deal with such crap.

        • scott

          And yet here you are on Android site. I'd think someone with your vast intellect and experience would have better things to do.

        • RobboThe only reason that hardware becoming obsolete is a problem is that your ego is dented. You get upset about not having the latest hardware and the little girl inside you cries. It’s good for everyone else because the latest hardware is always availa

          The only reason that hardware becoming obsolete is a problem is that your ego is dented. You get upset about not having the latest hardware and the little girl inside you cries. It's good for everyone else because the latest hardware is always available for those who are on the market looking for a new phone. If you can't deal with your neighbor having a later phone than you with the same OS, get an iPhone, where the little girls inside people's heads console each other, knowing that for the next 12 months, you have the best hardware with that OS. Hope that makes you happy, despite other OS phones getting quad core chips that blow the socks off your fashion item.

  • paul m

    Perhaps this explains why we see so many games which do not seem to stretch performance limits. There are a lot of good games but they seem to be more puzzle/strategy variants.
    I do not really count Angry Birds as graphically intensive.

    • Mark

      There's always options like Shadowgun and such.

  • E.Graul

    Google should help port these things over... Have the developer build a particular version of there app... Google does the rest of the building... For a fee of course...

  • Aaron

    Sounds good to me. Less competition for when I start finishing my apps. ;D Also, the only apps i really use are the major ones anyway (gmail, dropbox, pandora, and some popular games). There are still plenty out there.

  • Kura

    Being right or wrong about his departure from Android, he did poke an issue that most Android user are concerned about all the time. Android is truly becoming nastily fragmented and frankly, I don't see the end of it.

    It takes only two months in average for a manufacturer to announce and release a phone with boosted specs than the previous one, but it takes more than half a year for them to start rolling updates and get their phones to the latest version.

    It's been around 5 months since ICS was announced (second half of October 2011 I think) and at this moment it's only running on 1-2% of the devices, which I find to be an utterly shameful performance.

    I personally am an HTC Desire HD user and I will probably have to wait 'till June or after that for my phone to get officially updated. And why is that? Because dumbass HTC had to release 10 different Sensation models last year and other unnecessary phones that frankly, besides the exterior were pretty much the same specs wise to the others, and as they are their last year models I have to wait for all of them to get updated first. Same goes for Samsung with I don't know how many variants of the Galaxy line etc.

    Then come the carriers which also decide when a phone in their network gets updated. Why the hell should a carrier have such privileges? Of course they don't want to give you the update on time. They want you to go and buy a new device, of course!

    I think it's about time for Google to start bitch slapping manufacturers and make them move their asses a bit quicker if they want to keep the Android users; people are seriously getting fed up with it.

    Oh and by the way, the Galaxy Nexus is the first ever Nexus phone officially available in my country and it's way over my budget.

    • L boogie

      +1, fragmentation has been part of the problem especially between carriers/ manufacturers that unleash different devices upon the masses which halts potential updates to present devices and ICS being out for some time now should have reduced the mess unfortunately that's not the case. At the same time, considering that the developer planned on duplicating his ios success on android and didn't fare as well, shouldn't mean give up on the os altogether.

  • Andy

    I think the fact that we should be expecting Temple Run and Instagram sometime before the month is out proves this dude wrong.. and I'm sure the # of downloads those two apps will do in just one weekend will show that it is worth it to port your apps over

    • http://ggkthx.org/ Sumatori-kun

      That's because the ones who are making those two apps are really taking the time to code in Java.

      Most developers who want to get into Android DO NOT WANT to do double-duty just get their app on another platform. Of course, it's practically impossible to have a "conversion" tool or such.

  • RandyRP

    Something does not quite add up here. Both Mika current apps recieved a few updates when first released. Fixing bugs/capatability issues likey to be the reason.Yet neither has been updated/upgraded since last summer. So I am not sure I believe the developers are spending "so much time" as they claim. Reading much of the android market comments, however reveals that the Ios version of Battleheart recieved an upgrade involving added content. The android did not, yes I know file size was an issue, but there are workarounds.

    Bottom line is for them it is likey better to support ios than try and half heartedly support Android too and As I mentioned the version/update history does not seem to support their claims.

  • Freak4Dell

    Sorry, but even after skimming through the article (didn't read it in detail because I already had stopped caring by the 2nd sentence or so), I'm still saying "So what? Their loss." I really doubt that thousands of other developers are losing money on Android, so either these two are doing it wrong, or they're lying.

    I'm not saying they don't have some valid points, but quite frankly, if a bunch of other people can manage to handle the problems (and from developers that have commented here, the problems aren't that big to start with), then they need to suck it up and figure out how to handle it, too. Or, if they're not willing to do that, they should just exit the scene quietly.

    The only thing I got out of their whining is that I have no interest in buying any of their products, because chances are, if something is too difficult, they'll do it half-assed and then stop supporting it altogether a few months later.

  • palmer nyako

    lol every serious developer knows android is a pain to develop for.
    nothing new here.

  • palmer nyako

    Waiting for that disqus update artem
    ;)

  • nerdshowandtell

    If developers have an issue with developing for so many Android devices and doesn't have the resources to make it profitable, then take that same iOS fanboism and focus on the most popular device or chipset for Android.. Focus your efforts there just like you do for that single iOS device, then scale.. This developers issue wit the packaging method also is crap, as programmers we have had these types of obsticals to overcome and we do it. I think the problem really is that this guy cant make a good quality product, and has other business sides issues he can't handle, and is pushing the blame onto Android.. He obviously over exposed himself to something he couldn't handle form a business / service standpoint..

    • Peter

      Wow dude really. Mika Mobile is one single programmer. He works with his artist, who is his wife. He is leaving because he is a single developer and doesn't have the man power to put so much time into porting. Most small studios (like mine) can spend extra time to port games over to the Android, but not too much. He can't "scale" like you put it because to do so would require him to spend his personal time away from his bread and butter which is the iOS market. It's vastly different for a studio of 5-10, the same way it's vastly different the higher number of employees you have to throw at a problem. And yes, as a programmer developing for the Android does suck sometimes. But both platforms have their ups and downs.

  • Calbino

    Pretentious game devs can go back whence they came, we don't need folks like that.

  • BeDammit

    BAH..

    I read the article..
    Then I thought.. Who the heck is Mika Mobile?..
    So I googled them..
    watched the video of all their games and none of them interested me..
    furthermore their games were pretty much all the same..
    slash and shoot.

    Maybe the Android community wants more interesting games...

    By no means am I happy that they are leaving..
    Mika Mobile just needs to not only consider the device a different platform, but maybe an entirely different user base.

  • http://www.rogue-ai.com Rogue-AI

    I limited myself to a specific resolution and tablet only for my first game. I ran into a couple bugs that I was able to fix. But right now I have two customers, with the exact same transformer prime, same ICS version, and one can play the game fine, the other crashes on launch.

    Google needs to tighten this stuff up. They also need to stop hiding the fact that their tablet app selection sucks, and start highlighting them.

    • Mark

      Assuming your story is true, I can't see any way in which that isn't your fault. Clearly you have a bug in your code that under certain specific circumstances messes up the state so badly that the app cant launch(perhaps a corrupted save file that always crashes it when trying to load?).

      If it's the exact same device, with the same software on it then it's either your code or one of them has severe hardware problems. There's just no other reasonable possibility.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

        Umm, deeply flawed logic. All it takes is for that other guy to have installed an app that does malware scanning, app locking or memory management and it COULD be the culprit. In theory, albeit very unlikely, that Prime could also have a flaw in either hardware or it had a bad flash...If the app is using licensing, it's possible that Google's license server may have glitched (it's happened to me twice). It's even possible that a setting, default language, connection issues (ie. one is going through a proxy server or might not have a proper DNS record)...the list goes on and on. Try writing some software and you'll learn that external factors can and will ruin your day.

  • diablosv

    Frankly if a developer is unable to get their App working properly on the majority of mainstream Android devices, then why should they expect people to buy it.

    They should not develop for Android full stop, Android is better off not having having Apps that are buggy from whiny\lazy developers.

    Not updating for months on end is just the final nail in their coffin!

  • http://bradhicks.livejournal.com J. Brad Hicks

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate based purely on personal experience:

    I know a lot of people with iPhones and know, and see on the bus, a lot more people with Android devices, and the iPhone users spend a lot more time playing games on theirs. I'm not saying that nobody ever games on an Android phone, but if I see 6 iPhone users and 6 Android users at the same event, 2 of the iPhone users and 5 of the Android users will be checking Twitter, texting, looking up sports scores, something text related; the other 4 iPhone users and maybe 1 Android user are playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends.

    Rich and upper middle class people have more disposable income and a lot more leisure time on their hands; I'm not terribly surprised that the more expensive device owners spend more money on games and spend more time playing them.

    (I've spent a dozen or so hours playing the free version of Battleheart. It was okay. It wasn't worth spending money on, for me; I have a real computer to play games on, what I want on my personal device is Kindle, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Google Maps for transit schedules. I won't miss Mika Mobile terribly much.)

  • http://www.knarrnia.com Josh

    Wow has no-one written a line of code in their life? Apparently this guy is great at IOS development but doesn't really grock android development. If you're writing an android app, you write it to snap to a particular API level. Since he's talking about writing for specific devices and not to an API level, he clearly doesn't understand the android development process.

    Or, think of it this way, he should be writing to API 15 (Ice Cream Sandwich - 4.0.3) and maybe keep a fork in API 8 (Frozen Yogurt - 2.2). To write geared towards a particular device is just wrongheaded and not how the SDK works.

    • Mark

      If you're using OpenGL(particularly ES 2.0), then you have to write your own shaders and use a specific texture format.

      Some shader features are specific to certain hardware(i.e. the Mali 400 GPU in the Exynos chipset doesn't support high precision floating point numbers in fragment shaders) and, somewhat worse, certain operations in shaders have a tremendous performance hit on certain GPU's but aren't a problem at all on others(i.e. the pow() function on Tegra 2/3 vs. on any other chipset).

      There's also a few compressed texture formats around for OpenGL and, afaik, no one is supported by all mobile GPU's. If you try to use an unsupported texture format, stuff is going to break.

  • WilsonCH

    Seems to me the developer got fat with iOS and didn't do his homework before jumping into android. He ran into some chop, and went back to where it was easy. I'm not reading too much into this. Sounds like the author of this article has a lot of anti android sentiment bottled up. How do really feel? Maybe you should be writing for Apple. For all it's faults, it has over 50 percent of the smartphone market, and there are plenty of good games out there. Nothing to see here people, move along.

  • MarkG

    Chicken and egg.

    If he wrote for Android and ported to iOS, the iOS versions would suck and there would be very few users...

    You reap what you sow. Don't expect to make big bucks from crappy ports.

  • ahmad

    ios games are much cooler than android although they crash.but i wish some games are ported to android.i guess iam giong to buy an iphone for just 3 games.