Mika Mobile, the creators of Battleheart, say that Android game development is too difficult to continue in the face of rising support costs and low revenue. The game, which was first established as a hit on iOS, was ported to Android last year to great fanfare and relative success. In the early days it was cited as one of the success stories for game developers porting their apps to Google’s platform and actually making some decent coin from the effort.
But a year later the developers have changed their tune, and will not continue to support the game on Android. The game, which costs $2.99 but has been often been put on sale for 99c, became a headache for the developers, as the multitude of Android hardware and software created a perfect storm of support problems. “There’s a big difference between generating revenue, and ‘making money’ – It’s not that they haven’t generated income, but that income is offset by the additional support costs the platform has demanded,” said Mika Mobile in a blog post earlier this week. In a frank explanation of why sustained support for the game is untenable, the team said:
We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.
Considering the installed user base for Android is higher worldwide than iOS, it’s surprising to hear that Mika Mobile made nearly all of its money from Apple’s App Store. With only 5% of total revenue coming from Android, it’s understandable why the team couldn’t justify continuing to support the game. It also presents a quandary for any new development house who wants to port existing games, or build new ones, for Android: instead of buying a couple iPhones, iPods Touch and iPads to test on different OS versions, Android developers must often by all manner of hardware from different manufacturers, and install varying versions of Android in order to ensure stability, performance and overall experience.
While there are Android developers who have been able to earn money on the newly-refurbished Google Play Store, doing so does not come without its risks. Certainly the same can be said of developing for iOS, but one has to wonder if more Android devs will be singing the same tune as fragmentation continues over time.