Android gaming hitting a setback? Developers investing less in platform?

by Mike
Posted November 20th, 2009 at 10:26 am

android-market-logoAs much as I love Android, I will admit that it’s far from perfect. There are some lag issues on even top notch hardware like the Droid and the bread and butter of the mobile world, the app scene, just isn’t as matured as it is on the iPhone. At a an investor conference, Gameloft finance director Alexandre de Rochefort stated that Gameloft has significantly scaled back their Android development (as have other devs) due to one main issue — money, highlighting the fact that the iPhone platform has seen over 400 times more games sales than Android and that the Android platform as a whole just isn’t as lucrative. So what’s the hold up?

Part of the problem is early Android devices lacked any real graphics capabilities that all variations of the iPhone currently possess. It is the graphics cards that give various iterations of iPhones the power to display such high end mobile graphics. The latest Motorola Droid does step it up considerably with the inclusion of PowerVR graphics hardware, but because of Android’s open nature (a blessing and a curse), carriers and partners are free to configure the device as they see fit. Ultimately that means we’ll see several handsets for niche markets that don’t include the latest and greatest consumer focused internal hardware. This of course leads to the whole argument of too much diversity harming the Android Market. With so many hardware configurations to keep track of, devs are finding Android to be a more advanced Windows Mobile. But hardware alone won’t sell the platform.

Remember it’s the apps. Even if you have a breathtakingly gorgeous and innovative game, if you can’t even sell it in the first place because your country isn’t supported, you’re forced to give it away or move to another platform. This is one of the Android Market’s biggest problems — a minuscule amount of supported countries for paid apps. It limits from where good apps can come. In case you were wondering, the only countries currently supported are:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

It’s worth noting that this is a more “official” list as scouring through forums and online threads will reveal that other countries are starting to trickle into the payment game with a quick search turning up newly supported countries New Zealand and Switzerland. (Google Support Forums)

These two shortcomings are hurting the platform and like Apple, angering developers. Though these frustrations are obviously different animals with different solutions. Still I have faith that Google will pick up the pace.

Any devs care to share good/bad experiences with the Android Market. We all know I’ve been harping on Apple and the App Store as of late so why not spread some of that criticism around no?

iLounge > Reuters

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