A sad story coming out of Radiangames, the sole proprietor developer of numerous dual-stick shooter type games and the occasional fun puzzle game. Sadly, he hasn’t figured out how to combine the two yet, and unless things start to look better for business, that dream project might not exist. Radiangames as a full-time operation might not continue to exist at all. Inferno 2 ($2.99) was released on Steam after its mobile release, and it floundered on desktop, barely getting any featuring nor press attention. This is despite Radiangames being something of a big deal among indie developers on mobile thanks to a consistent track record of good games. In fact, Luke Schneider of Radiangames warns that moving away from mobile was an ill-considered idea.
Radiangames’ most successful and consistent launches have been in 2012 and 2014 when I launched 4 or more mobile games within 6 months of each other. The sales on iOS in particular have been quite dependable, though Google Play helped solidify the sales to keep Radiangames going.
Part of the reason for that success has been consistent press coverage for my games from big sites like Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer, and decent feature placement by Apple. That kind of exposure is invaluable. Yet for various reasons, I’ve switched away from mobile-only games despite these successful runs and the almost-automatic coverage. In both cases, switching away has been costly and Radiangames has ended up on the brink of collapse less than a year later.
This should serve as a warning for developers who see desktop and consoles as greener pastures: they’re not. Your established mobile presence means nothing to desktop players, and Steam is only going to get more crowded. You can have 5 years of a track record of great games and people on other platforms won’t care. Maybe finding a way to make things work on mobile is the ideal way to go, because making games for desktop is still a massive risk. The Space Food Truck Kickstarter from One Man Left might have floundered for that very reason. Console and desktop gamers have a vocal contingent of mobile haters, and any connection to mobile is seen as a lesser product. There’s a reason many developers go desktop-to-mobile, and not the other way around. I have no clue how Rocketcat’s going to do with Dad by the Sword and Death Road to Canada (admittedly a mobile-to-desktop-developer crowdfunding project that succeeded, though times have changed for crowdfunding since then), even though their games are beloved on mobile.
While certainly, mobile and desktop have different standards, Inferno 2 is a fun game that doesn’t deserve to flounder like this. Especially since it’s a game I sat around and played a ton of with a controller! Being a developer that manages to do well on mobile is a special position that might not be good to abandon. I still want to see Legend of Gigatron happen, but it seems like with several smaller releases happening, it might still take a while.
Also, folks, this is why I tell you to buy paid games and support developers who make good games. A lot of you complained that it felt like I was calling you out unfairly, and if you do buy games and believe in supporting the idea of paid games on the platform, well, it wasn’t about you. But buying more cool games wouldn’t hurt. But I know there’s a ton of you who cry about free-to-play in one breath and then won’t buy a game unless you get it for free or $0.99 in another. There’s a lot of developers struggling out there to make cool stuff, and they want to do so for mobile. But without your support, they might not be able to make games in anything but their free time at all.