When do you decide to go multi-platform?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by unexpect3rd, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. unexpect3rd

    unexpect3rd Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2011
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    Mobile Game Developer (Fulltime as well as indie)
    Singapore
    This question goes out to the developers and producers: When and Why do you decide that your app/game should be on multiple platforms (iOS,Andriod,etc)?

    Do you think that your app/game being on multiple platform will bring better overall sales? Or perhaps you will see how it performs on one platform before deciding to the port the app to another platform?
     
  2. Zenout

    Zenout Well-Known Member

    Porting used to be a consideration for me, now on 3rd game. If I made a 4th game then I would port it alright...to iOS.
     
  3. Ovogame

    Ovogame Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2010
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    Use a cross platform engine, then porting won't be such a difficult task.
    Off course it will brings more sales.

    PS: my own c++ engine currently support iOS/Mac/Pc

    JC
     
  4. R3v

    R3v Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    CMO @ PIXEL FEDERATION
    We were doing Facebook games and now going multiplatform with Adobe AIR. It was pretty necessary decision, since mobile is a must have these days. And deploying mobile apps with AIR is pretty easy and you maintain one code.
     
  5. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    Consider the following when deciding whether or not to port from iOS to Android:

    - How much will it cost to port? This is where it's easy to grossly underestimate the work needed to cover a reasonable device base on Android. Depending on how graphics-heavy your game is, note that the GPUs and their drivers in devices across the Android landscape have very different characteristics, made worse that the same device may contain different hardware depending on where in the world you bought it (for example, SGSIII can be dual or quad-core and with Nvidia or ARM GPU).

    - Which distribution channels are you aiming for? Just Google Play, or also Amazon, Samsung App Store etc.? Understand that each distribution channel will involve a separate distribution agreement and separate customer support channel.

    - How much ongoing support will the game need? This is another usually underestimated element. There will be plenty of refund requests (which you do need to handle, unlike on iOS) and technical support emails from owners of various handsets who experience random difficulties. If you're a small shop, you may find yourself spending much more time working on customer service than on game development.

    - What is the expected revenue? Is the business model of your game a good match for the Android user base? There are many of singular success story articles out there, but from a bird's eye view the entire revenue generated on Google Play is estimated at 20-30% of iOS (one example is Flurry's write-up from March).

    - What is the opportunity loss? If it takes you, say, three months to port a game and put it through a decent QA round, how does that relate to the work you could have done on your iOS version or a new game?


    For a small studio, it's important to focus. If you're just starting out and your first game is generating decent revenue on iOS, going multiplatform may well be a decision that eats away your ability to make a new game. The dynamics change depending on the size of your company, the complexity of your game and the business model you've chosen.
     
  6. unexpect3rd

    unexpect3rd Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    369
    2
    18
    Mobile Game Developer (Fulltime as well as indie)
    Singapore
    Very nice post there @Frand, very informative and gives dev houses something to think about when considering going multiplatform. (btw, i loved zen bound 2, though i skipped the first one)

    Let's say you have released an app on the iOS app store and the reception was not impressive even after minor feature upgrades. Would any of you think that porting this app to other platform be any good? Provided the app is using a framework that facilitates "relatively easy" porting, i say "relatively" because differences in platform frameworks may require the engineer recode some features in the platforms native language.

    Is it time for a developer to move on? Or should he carry on improving the app? Perhaps he should port the same version to other platforms? Maybe spend some resources on localization?

    Questions that kinda bug me...
     
  7. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    Those questions are again related to the scale of the company and the cost of doing business: if your premium iOS game cost hundreds of thousands to make, and porting to another platform is only a fraction of that cost, then additional platforms may make sense from that perspective.

    For a small studio, if the port itself is as expensive as a new game, and would launch on a platform with lower revenue expectations to begin with, just make a new game (benefits: tighter focus, better track record, ability to cross-promote your own games).

    If your game has no traction on the App Store even after a suitable period of post-launch support, it probably makes no sense to do an expensive port to any platform or channel. But this is of course never so simple... if your game is a quality product but only lacked visibility, then perhaps a port is worth it if the new channel is committed to featuring it (note the word committed and be sure you know the details of what it actually means!). Sometimes other platform holders are willing to cover the porting costs and/or minimize your risk by paying advances against royalties.

    So at least if you try a new channel with the same content, make sure you've learned what went wrong the last time and do things differently - investing repeatedly into ports and then launching them to the sounds of crickets chirping will only lose you money every time.

    The best thing that can happen is if you manage to make a game that gets traction and grows a user base that sustains your studio. At that point, update, improve and grow that game, and grow your team organically. Get enough resources so that you can keep your successful game going, and then face the positive problem deciding if your available team members will be involved with port vs. sequel vs. new game. Of those three, porting is rarely the most appealing option...
     
  8. WhiteSponge

    WhiteSponge Well-Known Member

    really informative post from Frand :)

    thanks I learnt from it too
     
  9. gps710

    gps710 New Member

    Sep 28, 2012
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    Rolling Two Dice

    In my experience, there are a lot of apps that have very different experience from a success perspective on iOS and Android. I've seen tons of cases where there is a version on one platform with huge download numbers and a version that is barely off the ground on the other.

    This carries a few implications. First off, you have to meter your expectations. If you have an app that is successful on one platform, don't assume that you will definitely find discovery on the other. Second, your moderately successful app on one platform may to incredibly well on the other. You double your chances of getting featured, and massively increase your total market reach. It is a risk hedging strategy. If Android starts to really pull away from a market share perspective, and you have been exclusively focusing on iOS, you may end up kicking yourself.
     
  10. Zenout

    Zenout Well-Known Member

    Excellent thoughts which have me thinking differently. My code is all C++, I'm just going to release on whatever is available. This will come down to which devices the testers own.

    I'm not so sure about Android still as the market is fragmented. Would prefer a publisher on that platform. Apart from that I for one have decided to continue self-publishing. Survival is the minimum for my expectations, which is actually quite a high expectation.
     
  11. unexpect3rd

    unexpect3rd Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    369
    2
    18
    Mobile Game Developer (Fulltime as well as indie)
    Singapore
    once again, thank you @Frand, very insightful. I will have to read it couple more times to digest it. You should consider writing a blog post on Gamasutra regarding this matter, it could raise some worthy discussions.
     
  12. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    the best time to go multi-platform is to make a decision before you even start writing apps.

    choose a language that can be used on multiple platforms (objective C - is not one of these languages), the better are C or C++. you can bridge C/C++ with objective-C, java et al.. so, this is the natural choice.

    try to separate your game elements from platform specific code. this will aide big time for you to increase your chances of porting. then all you need to focus on is the platform specific elements, link against your "common" business logic code (game logic et al) and you are done.

    we have done this approach, our games have zero platform specific code inside them, when we add a new platform, we just recompile the game against the new platform layer. it took us 1-2 days to support webos, blackberry 10 and the same will happen for android if we ever bother.
     
  13. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    Writing clean platform-agnostic code is of course absolutely essential for porting (our games take the same approach as well), but the bulk of the work is not getting a build running on a single device. That indeed is usually something that takes a few days.

    The problem, particularly on Android, is those thousands of different handsets with different hardware, different memory amounts, different audio implementations, different graphics drivers, different versions of the operating system itself, different screen resolutions etc.

    On Android you will need to deal with that sea of complexity, either at porting and QA phase (by acquiring devices to test with), publishing phase (marking only a limited subset of devices as capable of running the game, therefore limiting your market), or in support phase (dealing with all the emails from handset owners experiencing compatibility issues).
     
  14. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Frand, you and i have been doing this stuff for 10+ years.. :)

    you hit the nail direct on the head why i have not even bothered with android :) fragmentation is a killer on that platform. i may go for some specific markets like the amazon kindle but to focus on the main group of android devices? it will just be too much overhead to support than to actually make it worth my while.

    other alternatives to ios still exist, blackberry 10 (current: blackberry playbook) is doing very well as a platform for us. webos still makes sales, but it would be risky to put any investment into it right now - we need to see how the open webos environment will spin out.

    (work plug)
    if any developers are interested in blackberry 10, contact me. i actually work as a senior technical evangelist for RIM - i ported my own games very quickly and i have a tonne of references to porting guides from iOS to blackberry 10. games are even easier to port. not to mention the market place is not saturated yet, like iOS back in 2009.
    (/work plug)
     
  15. Ovogame

    Ovogame Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2010
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    Morestel, France
    What's the market there? My cross platform engine in C++, OpenAL, (OpenGL1.1/DirectX 8). How easy would it be to port, knowing that the platform specif stuff is tiny and already extremely encapsulated in few files. Is there any help we can get if we do the work (free device, promotion)... Check my games in my sig.


    JC
     
  16. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    contact me on aardiri@rim.com - it would not take you very long to get your applications ported over - especially since you are using C++, open AL and open GL. these are supported out of the box. since your profile says you are in france, i can even send you a blackberry playbook. i am looking specifically for developers in europe :)

    there is a bb10jam soon to be done in stockholm and malmo, where i will be speaking - you can qualify for a blackberry 10 dev alpha there as well. http://www.blackberryjamworldtour.com/

    as i said, follow up with me offline and we can chat about the market. if you get all your apps converted, i can ensure that you are featured in the app world market place as well.
     
  17. R3v

    R3v Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    CMO @ PIXEL FEDERATION
    There is really no one working multiplatform with Adobe AIR? Flash games on desktop, native apps on iOS + Android.
     
  18. Ovogame

    Ovogame Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2010
    571
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    Game Developer
    Morestel, France
    Yes, there are people working like that, but they are coming from the web dev scene.

    JC
     
  19. ChaosInteractive

    ChaosInteractive Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2012
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    Game developper
    France
    #19 ChaosInteractive, Oct 11, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
    Hello mobil1up. I am interesting to port my games on blackberry. I have send to you an email.

    I have also create my own C++ opengl cross-platform game engine.

    Edit: And to answer to the topic: I wrote a cross platform game engine because I started working on Nintendo DS. I developed on PC and compiled for NDS. It is just easy to port now my game engine.
    When Androïd out, I decided to port my game engine on it because I believe in it.
    Later, I added Bada OS for a samsung contest.
    Now I come on this great forum for have advices on how to port my game engine to iOs. And why not on others platforms.
    Indeed, it is to earn more money. And it is very cool to develop on different device. It's always a little challenge even if now I am accustomed.

    Thanks
     
  20. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    i want to share with you the story of the first developer who contacted me :)

    http://crackberry.com/smileys-pop-blackberry-playbook

    some of you are in touch with me; and i expect the opinions to be the same (yeah, this is crap - porting isn't so easy et al). but, as you can see, Jean Claude has been impressed by the tools and the commitment that RIM has a company :) personally; i like reaching out to developers directly - working one-on-one with them.

    so, who else is interested?
     

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