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What Holds the Android Gaming Back?

Three-quarters of all mobile devices sold in 2013 utilize the Android operating system, considering the global market as a whole;

yet despite this astounding success, games based on the mobile Google OS remain few and far behind compared to their Apple-using equivalents. There are some truly amazing titles and success stories that make use of Android, but quite a few designers are still hesitant to venture into the market because they’re concerned about such matters as piracy and the fragmented technical side of Android devices due to huge numbers of manufacturers unconcerned with universal compatibility.

What Holds the Android Gaming Back
What Holds the Android Gaming Back

Android by the Numbers

Though Android users are far more numerous than Apple users, and they download far more apps as a result, their share of the paid app market is considerably lower. Canalys, a research company, gives concrete figures for comparison between the two sets of potential game customers. Apple apps accounted for 74% of total app sales in 2013’s first three months, while Android apps amounted to just 20%. Though this study did not distinguish between game and non-game sales, it is still taken as solid, objective proof that game profits are higher when the programs are written for iOS.

The Secondary OS

Apple is the platform that got into the mobile game “the firstest with the mostest,” to quote American Civil War general Nathan Bedford Forrest, and it simply difficult for Android to pull design efforts away from such an entrenched competitor. It is only natural for designers to make games for the most popular and widespread operating system first, and that happens to be iOS. Telltale Games, for example, has released both The Walking Dead and Poker Night 2 solely for Apple devices, because, according to Steve Allison (vice-president of publishing) when talking to IGN, “Google Play … [is] still an ecosystem of many stores and a little harder to know what to expect on a game-by-game basis.”

A Fragmented Platform

Perhaps more than 4,000 devices currently run on the Android OS, creating a chaotic jumble of systems that often have little compatibility with one another. Games made for one Android device may fail to work on hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of others. Many devices are engineered without gaming in mind at all, making Android games useless for their owners. This is especially true now that these games are often made with detailed play and rich graphics.

Piracy Problem

Another force holding back Android developers is the threat of game piracy. There’s no solid evidence to back up the claims, but high piracy rates are reported by Butterscotch Shenanigans, one notable Android game designer. Piracy varies hugely by platform according to this company, as witnessed by the game “Towelfight 2.” 5% of iOS users ran pirated versions of the game, while 95% of Android users allegedly did the same. The feeble, almost nonexistent profits of Android developers back up the claim that pirated copies of Android games are used 1,400% more often than their iOS counterparts.

Thankfully, There’s Still Hope

Though a number of obstacles clearly exist to Android game success, there’s also a rising tide of positive developments that suggest a happier outcome is just around the corner. The Google Play store continues to be improved, with support for cross-platform multiplayer action and achievements being one of the most encouraging features. Despite the wide range of different Android devices being marketed, manufacturers are switching rapidly to systems that support high quality 3D gaming.

Finally, highly popular mobile games are being released with both iOS and Android versions more and more often, boosting interest in making more games and improving the platform’s performance.

About the author

Christopher Austin is fascinated with video gaming and enjoys playing them at his free time. He is a freelance blogger and writer at many blogs including Airplane Games 365. Apart he also loves to play with his dog at free time.
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