I have been working for quite a while in secrecy on a game project for the Android platform. Long story short, devoting all of my time to the Android development platform and developing specifically for those devices has recently left me feeling like I wasted a lot of time. I kept hearing rumors of the low return on investment for apps in the Android Market, but I kept plugging away anyway out of sheer love for Android and Google services.
I recently read some statistics about sales numbers on Android compared to that of IOS and was shocked. Only a small handful of games on Android have even come close to generating close to $100,000… in the entire life of the platform. This while two new releases in the past month on IOS have made upwards of $500,000. That’s just two apps released within the last month, compared to the entire life of the Android ecosystem.
It’s a little depressing considering my love for Android. While I love the OS, Google is really failing developers here. Two main reasons stick out.
First thing I’ll say is that the stock Android Market really sucks. There is just no real cohesive way to find quality apps on your device. Granted, the web market is much better, but they need to deliver a similar experience on the devices.
Speaking of quality… part of the reason why apps are hard to find, is that you simply have to weed through too much crap to find good apps. Anyone with a few bucks and time to throw something together can put an app out there. I know because I am guilty of it.
The same thing that I used to balk at from Apple is part of their strength. Their approval process makes their app store a much better experience. Google really needs this sort of approach regardless of what people whine about open this and that.
That said, I can’t fully explain why people basically refuse to buy apps on Android, but IOS customers will gladly spend in multiples every month for apps. It’s almost like the feeling and atmosphere of a Linux desktop has carried over to linux on the phone. People don’t really pay for linux anything. Open source usually means there is some developer out there sitting in his mother’s basement making some sort of half baked solution to the windows proprietary equivalent. That’s not to say all open source software is crap or half baked, but its the simple truth in the grand scheme of things.
All these factors cannot be ignored. While developing for IOS to me is kind of like sleeping with the enemy, from a business perspective, it is a necessary evil.
I could say I want to make games just for the joy of it and I will stay with Android specific just out of loyalty, but lets be realistic. I have a wife and kids. Sure I make games for the pure joy, but the complexities of life force me to examine the monetary opportunity of it.
All of these enlightening insights into my endeavors could not have come at a better time though.
Introducing Flashbuilder 4.5
I have always loved Actionscript. I have been working with it since the early days of Actionscipt 1 (almost laughable) So I was overjoyed with release of their new tool. While I do hate dumping all the work I created for Android, Java and AS3 are so similar, I was able to salvage a lot. Plus, considering my history with AS3, in one week I have been able to throw together most of what I built previously anyway. Not only that, it is more polished and just flat out more bad ass. To top it off, I can develop on one codebase that I love and release it on every major platform I can think of. It is a win win.
So stay tuned. Beta testing will begin soon to those who wish to partake in the battling action!