If I challenged everyone who reads this article to come up with a list of developers who were absolutely instrumental in elevating the platform of touch-based mobile gaming from its meager roots of simple puzzle games and bad ports to what it is today, I’d expect to see Simogo on a vast majority of those lists. Simon Flesser and Gordon Gardebäck were without a doubt on the ground floor of proving to the world that the App Store (and Google Play) could be home to fantastic titles that even the most stodgy Real Gamer types would reluctantly acknowledge as must-play experiences. However, per a today’s blog post it seems that Simogo sadly is the latest developer to find themselves walking away from mobile, the platform that they helped define- At least for the time being.
Their story begins like so many indie iOS developers we’ve heard from this year: The advent of iOS 11 and Apple officially dropping support for 32-bit apps required developers of ancient (in App Store terms, anyway) to make a choice of either rendering all those games eternally broken or invest loads of time updating them. In Simogo’s case, they put “months of work" into this, and “had [they] known back in 2010 that [they] would be updating our games seven years later, we would have shook our heads in disbelief." Time that Simogo would have spent developing new games instead was sunk into updates, as Apple seemingly has zero interest in preserving software compatibility on their platform. Simogo mentions that being mad about this likely will do nothing to change this direction, “So, instead, we’re thinking a lot about how we can find ways to preserve our games, and our own history, because it is inevitable that our mobile games will be gone sometime in a distant, or not so distant future, as iOS and the app store keeps on changing and evolving."
They acknowledge that the iPhone literally changed their lives, but the passage from the blog post that’s being endlessly highlighted and tweeted today by many indie developers I follow from the blog post is this one:
The ease of mobile game development drew us to making iPhone games back in 2010. But, it’s getting increasingly financially unviable, tiring and unenjoyable for us to keep on making substantial alterations for new resolutions, guidelines, and what have you, as they seem to never end. The appeal of the mobile platform is less evident today than it was a few years back. Before we started Simogo, we had made console games, and had grown really tired of the clunky processes, politics, certifications and primitive development environments that was involved in making a console game. Today, a lot of that clunkiness is gone, and sadly, for a small developer like us, mobile has become more difficult to support than consoles. Releasing a mobile game means supporting it perpetually, and justifying that is tough for us, at the moment.
The end result of this is that while Simogo isn’t saying farewell to mobile development forever, their upcoming title, Project Night Road, will be released on consoles. This trend we’ve seen of more and more top-tier indie developers electing to pull away from mobile development has been heartbreaking, and it has been happening at a pace that I’m really not even sure what to say about it anymore. I really just want to spend some time in the alternate universe where Apple cares about these sorts of things.