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Epic: Android too inconsistent, slow for gaming versus iOS

updated 03:45 pm EDT, Tue April 5, 2011

Epic rules out Android gaming for now

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney in an interview on Tuesday ruled out game development on Android in favor of the iPhone and iPad. Games like Infinity Blade couldn't come to Android because Epic "can't guarantee" a baseline experience on every device. Even if a fast quad-core device like the Sony NGP were underneath, Sweeney told Gizmodo, the free rein hardware makers and carriers have to impose apps and custom interfaces meant you would get a different experience that could slow it down.

"Let's say you took an NGP phone and made four versions of it. Each one would give you a different amount of memory and performance based on the crap [the carriers] put on their phone," he explained, adding that Android largely made it slower as a whole.

The actual NGP would be faster than what both Apple and Google by necessity have to deal with software overhead that the PlayStation doesn't, he quickly added.

Google has usually tried to deny any fragmentation problems but has increasingly faced problems as OS upgrades are delayed or cancelled and some of the core experience gets hurt. Rumors have swirled that it's cracking down to get to a better experience, including for games.

Sweeney noted that there was also a strong financial motivation to work on iOS, since it was the "best place to make money." He did have some complaints about iOS in the unpredictability of how it handled RAM. While the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 had enough RAM at 512MB, iOS didn't always set aside memory gracefully and forced users to either close some apps or reboot to set aside enough memory. OpenGL ES drivers for mobile graphics were also to blame and, with proper optimization, could show much more detail or considerably more characters onscreen. Infinity Blade was deliberately capped at one-to-one fighting to reduce the overhead.

From early investigations, however, the developer said he believed the claims of a ninefold speed boost in the iPad 2's graphics and saw it as having a large amount of potential. An iPhone 4 was roughly comparable to one of the three cores in an Xbox 360, but the iPad 2's chip had "far far more potential." At a minimum, the PowerVR SGX543 graphics could use the same pixel shader effects as in Gears of War where most other devices couldn't manage as much.

In the long term, Sweeney estimated that the iPad 3 or future generations could be fast enough to equal or pass the Xbox 360 in speed. That wasn't true of the Nintendo 3DS, which despite being pitched as better than an iPod for gaming couldn't run Unreal Engine 3 at all without the necessary effects shaders.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008



    It sounds like a developer who makes real games and who knows what he is talking about. Not a smoke blower. If Android people start believing this, Google will have to stop s******* around with this "free rein" let everyone do what they want. Jobs KNEW way in advance that this is NOT an optimal experience.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Fragdroid is so doomed

    Poor development platform. Fragdroid Market dominated by malware and craplets (plus dozens of task killers: yet more proof that Google blew it.) Airtight Oracle lawsuit. Any one of which is a killer.

    Oh, and there's one more fragdroid killer. No more "open."

    Actually, I take that last one back. The general consumer electronics-buying public doesn't give a toasted S*** about "open." Only the freetards of the world do.

  1. Hash

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Apr 2001


    comment title

    not freetards, googloids

  1. macnews1

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2011



    totally agree and hope the Android user community starts speaking LOUDLY! As a developer I don't care which one "wins" or is "better" for the user. I just want it to be easy to develop, get my app out there so I can earn money. Android is by far and away more difficult and specialized to develop for than iOS for all the reasons mentioned. This is not a judgement, nor am I saying it is impossible, it is just my opinion and that of many other developers I talk to. They are not enamored with iOS either and admit is has faults but when push comes to shove, dev on iOS first is the preferred method.

    The plus side - if Droid does get a larger foothold and more people start making more money on it to the point you pretty much have to develop droid first, then that could be good for me as I could charge a butt load more $$$ to develop for other companies because droid is much more difficult to develop on. All supply and demand.

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