updated 08:40 am EDT, Mon June 20, 2011
Battleheart dev compares iOS to Android
Game developer Noah Bordner in a comparison this weekend had the rare opportunity to compare success both on iOS and Android. He still saw iOS as having a "significantly" larger market since his game Battleheart ($2.99, App Store, Android Market) could sit outside of the top 200 apps on iOS where it had to be in the top 50 on Android just to get 80 percent of the revenue. However, he saw Android as a potential treasure trove for developers simply because its tendency towards poorly made apps led to higher review scores and more frequent reviews that helped exposure.
"Battleheart for Android has become a meaningful source of revenue, and has proven that the platform isn't a waste of time," Bordner said. "In fact, I'd go as far as to say that a polished, high quality product is more likely to be embraced on Android than on iOS because the quality bar on the Android Market is so pathetically low... I think the lack of competition makes quality apps really stand out, and generates a lot of enthusiasm from app-starved Android users."
The performance was more impressive given that Battleheart recevied heavy promotion early on at the App Store where its Android port had gone virtually unadvertised outside of a minor boost on the tablet-optimized Android Market page. It's unclear how much of this was from users who had become aware through the iOS version.
Several technical issues still made the Android experience "obnoxious" to develop for, the coder said. Although porting from the Unity engine was relatively quick even with multiple devices, the platform's "innate technical problems" meant getting a lot of support requests that didn't exist on iOS. As much as two percent of buyers can't even download from Android Market through no fault of their own.
Apple's refund policy was also much smarter, Bordner explained. Where Apple shoulders billing issues, Android foists them on the developer by virtue of Google Checkout and can tie up valuable development time processing refunds. "I just want to make games, not listen to people whine about how their app won't install (due to user error 9 times out of 10)," he said.
The comments hint at a significant change in attitudes towards Android as a platform. Rovio is known to have inadvertently reinforced perceptions of Android as hostile to paid apps by deciding to support its Angry Birds conversion with ads instead of charging like it does on every other platform. Its decision was partly a reflection of a real bias towards free apps but has led many to either follow the same model or avoid Android altogether.