Battleheart And Zombieville USA Developer Quits Android, Calls It 'Unsustainable'

Zombieville USA is one of the poster children of Unity on iPhone, and I'd go as far to say it's up there as one of the best examples of what can be achieved with the middleware. So when developer Mika Mobile announced it was giving up on Android as a games platform, I instantly wondered how it would reflect not just on the game's creators, but Unity also.

The developer's Battleheart currently has a score of 81 on review aggregator Metacritic, while Zombieville USA 2 is just as happy on 80. Sufficed to say, Mika Mobile has some idea of what it takes to make a quality mobile game — information it was more than willing to share in a recent, lengthy post:

Where did your dollar go? 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.

This required the company to shell out "thousands" for test devices, all for a platform that contributed just five per cent to its bottom line. Is that worth trading 20 per cent of your resources for? As Mika Mobile puts it, the "ratio is unsustainable".

One of the reasons a developer goes with a piece of middleware like Unity is so they don't have to worry about building the core technology or killing themselves over the possibility of a multi-platform release. You can just get on with it. That doesn't mean you're off the hook entirely — it's still up to your technical artists and programmers to make sure the shaders they're coding match the capabilities of the target devices and the demands they're putting on the hardware are reasonable.

So I think I can confidently say Unity's not to blame. Google, on the other hand, might have some work to do.

Mika Mobile's blog post clearly suggests it's the fragmented state of Android devices that's put them off the OS, while comments over at Phandroid point a finger at a lack of updates. Going by Battleheart's entries in the App Store and Google Play, both platforms were last refreshed over six months ago. It's no secret updates are the lifeblood of mobile games, and I'm willing to accept this is a contributing factor to the game's reduce income on Android. That doesn't explain why it remains profitable on iPhone, however, especially seeing as Battleheart and Zombievilla USA have four-plus star user ratings on iOS and Android.

I haven't seen other developers dumping Android, so it's hardly a trend, but it does concern me that fragmentation could be a real issue going forward for the platform. It's entirely in Google's hands how that plays out.

Our Future with Android [Mika Mobile via Phandroid]


Comments

    Is the accusation that piracy is rampant on driod true? If so, could that put devs off the platform too.

      Every platform has piracy.
      Time and time again, all signs point towards piracy not being as damaging as consumers assume. If piracy had anything to do with it, we'd be hearing about it more.

      In response to the article, this developer wouldn't have a very fun time with PC game development.

        Yeah, but is it significantly higher on driod devices than on its competitors. If so, you can easily see why devs would be reluctant to invest any time in it.

          Is there a source for that information?
          Even if Android platforms have more piracy than others, that doesn't mean that it's even noticeable to the developers from a financial standpoint.

          As I said, consumers seem to always assume that piracy will disintergrate developers and their families, while I hardly hear anybody complaining about it. Infact, recently, you hear developers encouraging it more than anything (SOPA protests).

            If you'll direct your attention to my first question, you'll notice I was asking whether it was true or not. I'm not saying it is true, I've read some people raise the issue of piracy on driod devices and I wanted to know if it was accurate and if it could turn devs off the platform.

              Piracy is rampant on the Android platform (SGS2 owner) due to the fact that APK files can be installed outside the market place and that finding cracked APK files are not hard to come by.

                I have a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and yes, it is easy to pirate games.
                It is as simple as installing ASTRO off the marketplace, enabling "Unknown Sources", and downloading the APK files.

                However, that does not give any indicator as to the amount of piracy or the impact on developers.

                  i won an Ipad and piracy is as easy as Jailbreak => cydia => installous. Piracy should not be taken into consideration when assessing the potential profitability of a product. It should be ignored and only potential actual buyers should be considered.

    The developers were certainly not promoting piracy. They spoke out against SOPA due to issues concerning privacy, civil liberties and freedom of expression.

    I've been saying this is the biggest problem with Android from day one. It doesn't just reflect in the games it's in everything it does. If you don't have a marriage of software AND hardware you always have these sorts of incompatibility issues, driver issues, and fragmentation that affects profitability and quality.

    But Android nerds are too busy blindly hating iPhone and scratching their heads wondering why Android's app store is such a joke.

      How interesting. Every app I've wanted to find for my SGS2 I've managed to find in Market.. sorry, in "Play". And most of the time it's free or very cheap to boot.
      Very rarely do I see apps crash either, and if it does it's cause the new ROM I've put on the phone is crap, so I revert back to the stock one and she's sweet again :)

        High end Android phones are usually fine, it's the lower end ones that have all the problems. You could argue that the same is true of those with 3G's and 3GS's but those incompatibilities are always listed on the game descriptions and are also phones not so much widely sold anymore. You can buy Android phones right now that simply won't have the processing power for certain games on the Android market, with no explanation why without googling.

    Zombieville is nothing anyone is going to miss, the other games I haven't played so can't comment on.

    Battleheart is suppose to be pretty good. Shame for Android but I did kind of expect this with all the differences in hardware and GPUs/CPUs.. Shame, as I like the Transformer Prime.

    They have already found the majority of Android users peffer free/add supported apps too so really once again not a big shock..

      There's a good reason for that - you can go to the store and buy an iTunes card so you don't have to give your credit card details to Apple, I've not (in any store) seen an Android Market card, ever - it discourages you from buying anything when you have to use your credit card.

    Paid for Battleheart finished it (good game, well made) and it hasn't received any new content since, not that it has to necessarily. I can imagine that developing for Android would have an added level of complexity due to the different hardware and software but this is also the reason I prefer Android (choice). I think Google needs to do a better job of providing middle-ware tools for developers.

    Bring those awesome games to BlackBerry Appworld! We're more than happy to pay for quality games on Playbook. Porting them directly from Android is supposed to be really quick and easy. That way you can make back that money you wasted on little green men

      Dude, look it up. Blackberry can run android apps soon. And I agree with other post, I've had a desire, desire s, sensation xe and galaxy tab 10.1. Never had a issue with an app. I don't even hack my phones, always stock.

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