Gendai Games recently announced some drastic changes to the way they license GameSalad, a simplified game development tool that allows the creation of games without a single line of code. Previously, developers had different options on how to license the GameSalad SDK ranging from a $99 to $1,999 yearly subscription which then allowed developers to export binaries to then upload to Apple for approval to be sold (or given away) on the App Store under their own name. At GDC Online in Austin, Texas earlier this month, Gendai Games revealed that they were doing away with this subscription model and instead would be positioning themselves as a publisher of sorts. Per a FAQ posted later, the SDK will be completely free to download and instead all games will be published under the GameSalad name (similar to how Chillingo and other publishers work) with a revenue sharing agreement.
When existing GameSalad subscriptions expire, several things are going to happen: First off, all developers will be forced to publish their projects under GameSalad. This means they lose a great bit of their identity, have no control over promo codes, and will need to work through GameSalad instead of with Apple for any App Store issues. Secondly, all existing GameSalad games won’t be able to be updated since currently there’s no way to move an existing App Store listing to a different publisher and the new free version of the GameSalad SDK won’t export a binary that can be sent to Apple to update the existing game. As of this writing, no program has been announced to allow existing developers who have invested in GameSalad to be grandfathered in to a program that will allow them to continue independent GameSalad development.
Max Vector, a GameSalad-powered shooter.
Needless to say, this change of events has stirred up quite a bit of unrest in the GameSalad development community. A blog (and forum) called I Just Wanna Make Some Games has sprung up detailing the GameSalad saga and offers some assistance for developers looking to migrate to similar tools without forced publishing. Quite a few developers seem to be jumping ship to Ansca Mobile’s Corona, a similar tool that leverages the Lua scripting language. If you’ve dabbled in GameSalad in the past, or are looking to start, it might not be a bad idea to see how this all plays out before getting much more involved.