Google Play vs iOS app store: A Dangerous Post-Mortem

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by binaryhelix, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. binaryhelix

    binaryhelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2011
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    #1 binaryhelix, Aug 9, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
    Gamasutra posted this blog entry on this on their front page. It's a discussion of our experience with Google Play and the iOS App Store. New developers might find it interesting if they are planning to dip their toes into the Google Play store:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/LinhNgo/20120808/175583/Google_Play_Is_Better_Than_The_iOS_Store_In_Our_Case_A_Dangerous_PostMortem.php

    Some of our findings: players are willing to spend $7.99 on the Google Play store for a quality game experience which belies the claim that rampant piracy makes it impossible to sell anything other than free or cheap games there.
     
  2. CharredDirt

    CharredDirt Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting that. It was a great and informative read. We're thinking of taking our game and developing it cross platform for android as well as ios. How bad was dealing with device fragmentation? That's a big concern of mine.
     
  3. binaryhelix

    binaryhelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2011
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    Fragmentation is an issue, but you can control it by listing all your requirements in the manifest. Google Play also lets you add or remove devices from the availability list in the developer control panel.

    It's important to let users try the game first before paying. This removes a big chunk of support hassle. So provide a free demo version if you are selling a premium priced game. You'll also notice this in the review scores especially if your game is graphically intensive like Dangerous HD is.

    The free version reviews take a beating from the people who couldn't play it even though Google Play said their devices could play it based on the manifest requirements. But our paid version reviews are at 4/5 and 4.5/5 stars for the SD and HD versions.

    So fragmentation is an issue, but it's manageable and the opportunity on Android shouldn't be dismissed if the porting costs are minimal as it was in our case using Unity.
     
  4. CharredDirt

    CharredDirt Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the reply, that was very helpful. I definitely will have a free version of the game. I want people to try it out first before people find out if it works or not.
     
  5. Jason Stark

    Jason Stark Active Member

    Jun 5, 2012
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    Games Developer
    Noosa, Australia
    I find that it's much less of a problem than I expected. Even if you don't have a free version (we don't) people can download your game, try it and grab a refund if it doesn't work as expected.

    Being able to only release it to specific devices is a big help too. Instead of trying to support every device out there, you can just remove them from the list of devices as you discover which ones aren't compatible.
     
  6. CharredDirt

    CharredDirt Well-Known Member

    Wow, that's pretty cool. Nice that they can get a refund if it doesn't work.
     
  7. MightyGate

    MightyGate Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Spain
    Thank you for the info binaryhelix,
    We are making a utility for Android but we have a problem: piracy.
    How are you fighting with piracy?, it's very easy to extract the .apk and upload it in a P2P, or a torrent... are you using any tool or service for prevent piracy?.

    Thank you!
     
  8. Ndemic Creations

    Ndemic Creations Well-Known Member

    An interesting read.

    Question - did your android downloads ever go above 70-100 a day?
     
  9. Rubicon

    Rubicon Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2011
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    Lead Programmer, Chief Bottlewasher
    Isle of Wight, UK
    Interesting read, thanks.

    Our experience differs a lot in some areas, but overlaps well in others.

    Here's a tip though. Korea might be a worthwhile endeavour for foreign localisations as (I know you shouldn't generalise) they're all mad gamers, fairly rich and tech savvy and have a "you need to buy things" ethic. Plus there's many millions of them, it's a populous place.

    However other Eastern markets are pointless. We had our game localised and sold into the rest of the far East by a portal and we made almost no money from it. We got a feature on China Mobile's home page (quarter of a billion potential customers?) and did about $700. If the portal hadn't covered the localistion costs, we would've been out of pocket! We were going to try Russia too, but after that just didn't bother.
     
  10. CharredDirt

    CharredDirt Well-Known Member

    Korea is definitely Android heavy. I doubt an iOS launch would do well over there.
     
  11. ScottColbert

    ScottColbert Well-Known Member

  12. binaryhelix

    binaryhelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2011
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    In our case, we had a big data download of 130-200 MB for the SD version and 500+ MB for the HD version, so it would be more than 15 minutes before some people could even try it. Partly why we offered refunds past that time period.

    Yes, if you make it big on iOS, you will make far more money than on Android. Which if you're realistic, you realize it's probably not going to happen. However, Android is still catching up in many respects, and so, there are fewer quality developers on Android. This gives you an earlier "first mover" advantage on Android or just a lower hurdle to success. And now that the big boys are all over iOS, it's even more difficult. But I agree, release on both if you can. Remember that there's also the Amazon App Store, too.

    Google Play has an older DRM that you can turn on and it will automatically prevent running the same binary on another device. It does increase the size of your binary. They are deprecating that and telling devs to use their LVL method which does a license check. In both cases, I think it only slows down the pirates. For us, we only tried the old method for a brief period, and it didn't seem to affect sales either way.

    It's a war you can't really win, so we don't bother trying to fight it. Plus, piracy is another channel to advertise your app in a sense, and we did get at least one person who paid for the real version once he played a pirated copy.

    Nope. But the higher price makes fewer downloads more bearable, and we were getting more consistent daily purchases of 30+ for awhile. We'll see if we get any noticeable increase if we can get some Android review sites to take a look.

    Interesting. We're localizing now, and will see about adding Korean as a priority.

    We were contacted by a bunch of Chinese companies offering the same thing, so it's disappointing to hear the sales didn't work out as hoped. They were saying some of their success stories did $50K and up. Just curious since I think you guys are also a Unity shop, how did they localize it? Did you just give them your whole project?
     
  13. Rubicon

    Rubicon Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2011
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    Lead Programmer, Chief Bottlewasher
    Isle of Wight, UK
    Well, they're not gonna highlight their averages, maybe Angry Birds made that money for them. We get them all the time too and they go straight in the spam folder now.

    No unity here btw, we rolled our own cross-platform engine a while back. I'd hate to depend on a 3rd party solution with the speed that the market moves. We have a build almost ready for ms surface now for example. And Vita.

    They got the translations done. It was down to us to get them in and working but it didn't take long. You do not want to be sending your source code into piracy's ancestral home.
     
  14. ImperialPenguin

    Jun 20, 2011
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    Programmer
    Virginia
    I'm actually making more money on Android that I am on iOS right now. Granted, none of my apps are what anyone would consider a huge success. Play is outselling the Appstore by a small margin, but there is also a trickle of money coming in from the Amazon app store (about 10% of what I make on Play), and a much smaller trickle coming in from Nook. I only have one app on Nook right now, so it's not really fair to compare that yet.
     
  15. lolzappan

    lolzappan Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2012
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  16. headcaseGames

    headcaseGames Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2009
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    Mobile Game Developer
    Hollywood, CA
    I probably make about 4 or 5 X more on android than I do on iOS.
     

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