My first look at iOS vs Android vs Microsoft

Welcome back. I’ve been hard at work on my new game, but more on that when I have something more to tell.

The story continues with Stray Cat, the first game that I managed to get through the submission process and onto the App Stores. It’s available for both iOS (iTunes) and Android (Google Play and Amazon)

Android: A story of Ice Cream Sandwiches, Jellybeans and KitKat’s

Initially I had pinned my (Android) hopes on the Amazon App Store but to date have yet to see any movement whatsoever on it. So is it alive, does it have a heartbeat? Maybe I’m missing the plot but I think it’s a dead rubber. I’ve stopped checking on it altogether, in fact I’m considering just pulling the game off the Amazon store altogether.

So Amazon isn’t the way to go and Google Play doesn’t pay to South Africa, so revenue is pretty much non-existent there. The only form of revenue to be made from Google Play is advertising. In the end, I added AdMob advertising into the Android version and released one for free on Google Play. This was a problem for me, as it meant I had gone back on my ideals of not releasing add supported games.

I spent lots of time pondering on it and spoke to friends and asked questions and in the end, I realized that I can live by my ideals or I can try to make things work. It turns out that being adaptable remains the one thing true to an indie developer. I also realized that people are not keen on spending any money whatsoever on a game they know nothing about, made by someone they known nothing about. Of course, I had done fairly little in terms of advertising at this point, but I’ll share my advertising findings in another post.

The final moment of irritation was that we’ve tested a lot on a Samsung GT-I9500 and I know for a fact it works. Yet I have people contacting me saying it doesn’t work at all on that exact model. I also found that things that generally worked rather easily on iOS always took a tweak or two more on Android. I can’t help but see flashbacks of the nightmare that was developing for Nokia’s Symbian OS.

You might not remember, but if you wanted some game to run on your Nokia, you had to choose the exact version that was specifically made for your exact phone model. The same game had various versions for various phones and if you picked the wrong one it wouldn’t work. I’ve not had any similar issues on Apple’s iOS. Things just generally seem to work. Also, Apple just has the recipe right in terms of hardware which just seems to perform much better than even the top of the range Galaxy Tabs. I’ve not collected an extensive set of data on it, but certainly on our tests on frame-rate and processing rates at least it seems to hold true.

Apple, yes just Apple

This hasn’t put me off Android, but combined with the very poor download stats compared to iOS’s pretty low total, I’m not going to focus as much on Android for the time being. If I made games full-time, I would still focus just as much on Android as iOS but since I have to split my time, it’s Apple first. So my plan is to make the games for iOS, then to migrate them to other platforms afterward, rather than doing it all at the same time.

Microsoft, still in version 3.11, alpha.

Bring on the Microsoft store and in true form, what just works on the other App Stores is a complete headache here. If you are lucky enough to figure out how to navigate what I can only describe as the worst program flow ever, then you are probably going to realize that just after you’ve paid your subscription fee that you’ve done it to the wrong store. You paid the Windows store instead of the App store. Of course that’s what you meant to do, right?

Enter the App Store and Windows Store confusion. Yes my friends, lets cross brand, cross name and ultimately confuse the crap out of everyone. Once you are in, you’ve sorted out your payment mess, you create your application profile and then you are stuck. You notice that you can’t do anything until Microsoft Verifies you. HUH? 7 Days of waiting for, erm, nothing to happen. Apparently, they didn’t need to verify me? WHAT? I’m confused.

On the next step I learnt that I need to configure the BETA testers using a box that I couldn’t use because it’s all greyed out. So, after much searching and struggling with horrible KB articles that seem to be a circular reference to themselves and mention just about every Microsoft product under the sun, I figured out that there is no good reason why I can’t simply delete and recreate my app. Oh yeah, you guessed it, in true Microsoft “reboot” it style, I could progress to the next stage with the newly created app profile. a Few weeks wasted. I have lots of spare time, right?

Microsoft, promoting the use of aspirin worldwide.

Hold on to your horses, that’s not it yet either. So I get that there is a need for things like content ratings and PEGI and so on, but by comparison, Apple asked a few questions about my game and rated it accordingly. So did Amazon, so did Google Play. No my friends, not Microsoft. They provide you with a list of all the approvals you need from all the Countries to accomplish the same thing and even though their vastly confusing KB articles stated that I don’t need to complete all those forms, the fact is you need to spend a serious amount of time to do what the mainline app stores do for you.

And the verdict is?

If Apple was my primary store and Google Play was my secondary store, then Microsoft would be somewhere between I’m bored, it’s 3am and I can’t sleep and I’ve already finished my book so “hey, lets see if I can make some progress with Microsoft” and well, nothing really. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather want to waste my time on. Skip, at least until I have much, much, much more time available!

So that meant the end of my initial App store experience. I had created and launched my Game and now people would start to download it.

Until we meet here again, in a few days perhaps?

Everything that’s Flappy isn’t always gold

Welcome back. If your week was anything like mine then I share your joy of experiencing this Friday as the start of the weekend.

For me, weekend is game development time. I spend pretty much all my free time working on games to get this going. That makes a “no” a bitter pill to swallow. Even if you expected a “no” in the first place. As you are no doubt aware, I submitted Clappy Bird to Amazon and to Apple.

I was surprised that Amazon provides feedback as quickly as they do. I submitted it last week Saturday to them and come Sunday morning I had a lovely letter informing me that I’ve used artwork from Flappy Bird. This was of course not true, I had drawn all my art work myself but I cannot deny that it was drawn to the same purpose as Flappy Bird and it looks very, very similar. In addition, Clappy Bird is no doubt a clone of Flappy Bird. I replied to the rejection and was simply told that I am using the Flappy Bird icon, which again I wasn’t.

I decided to leave it at that and to see what Apple came back with. It had taken Apple a little more than the average of 6 days (I think) but I finally received the loveliest and most politically correct response from them. They made no claims towards copyright or me using Flappy Bird graphics, rather, they indicated that they don’t approve games that leverage of other games. Fair enough I suppose and to be brutally honest, I appreciate that. Like I said in my previous post, the original creator of a game should reap the rewards of it, not the copy cats.

The interesting thing here was still the fact that Flappy Bird was removed and no longer available. Obviously, the counter argument is that the creator could opt to re-submit it at any time.

Regardless of the “no” I am extremely happy to have submitted something and seen some of the process flow. I’m also very encouraged by the fact that they won’t simply allow Flappy Bird clones. It does beg a few questions though, such as why say no to clones now and only with regards to Flappy Bird? They said no to me, but Fallout Boy is about to release a clone. What makes their clone special?

Why did Apple not prevent all the clones for 5-0 Radio for example, in fact, the creator of 5-0 radio, Allen Wong, has famously stated that there were so many clones he ended up creating clones for his own app to compete with himself and the clones. He still bought a Lamborghini Aventador, so I suppose he won’t complain.

In all, I’m still satisfied that what’s fair is fair. I took a shot with Clappy Bird and they said no. It’s their right to say no and that no protects me too.