One of the biggest weaknesses of the Android OS has been highlighted sharply this week, as games developer Gameloft has shown wavering support for the platform. The problem? Device fragmentation and revenue issues. But after announcing a major cut in Android investment, Gameloft has today announced an advanced High Definition games launch for the OS.
What’s the story?
Over the weekend, it came out that Gameloft had slashed the amount of money being invested in development for Android games. Reuters reported Gameloft finance director Alexandre de Rochefort‘s comment that it was not along in cutting investment in the platform.
The main reasons are very simple. First, the Android Market is not up to the standard of the iTunes app store and is harder to sell applications on. Second, the large variety of Android devices makes it hard to design an app that will work on all of them. Different device capabilities and screen sizes makes it a pain to create an app for the Android OS in general, and developers find themselves making a game for a single Android device. But if you create a game for iPhone, it will run on all iPhones.
So what’s new?
Today Gameloft has announced that it will be releasing mobile games in High Definition for certain Android devices. Specifically, the Droid and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10:
Gonzague de Vallois, vice-president of Publishing at Gameloft said that “the arrival of this new generation of phones will allow the development of High Definition games that make the most of the technological capacity and the speed of execution offered by the new Android phones. Consumers will benefit from a top quality gaming experience”.
What we think?
This is going to be a constant problem for Android going forward, and it’s one that I didn’t realise until quite recently. I’d been so caught up in the ability of the Android to fill any device niche that I didn’t notice how much of a pain that would be for a developer. Unless you have pretty much limitless time and resources, you can’t cater for all the design choices you’ll need to make for the different Android devices. How advanced is the touch-screen? Where will the buttons be? What size and shape is the screen? What kind of on-board capabilities does it have? So you’re faced with the option of creating a crappy lowest-common-denominator game, or doing what Gameloft has done. Take the Android devices that are most similar to an iPhone, and develop games for them.