Whether it’s stories of painful, 1000-device optimization issues or tales of woe about marketplace obscurity, there’s no denying that Android has a… questionable rep among developers. In a recent post on their company blog, however, TinyCo’s Director of Business Development Jennifer Lu sought to take one Android stat out to pasture with some figures from the company’s latest release Tiny Village.
For Lu, the “the often-repeated theory that ‘Android does not monetize'” is just that: a theory. Sure, there are numbers to back it up – a recent report from ad provider Flurry pegging Google Play’s average revenue per user at a pithy 23% of the App Store’s. In practice, though, TinyCo is experiencing a take per player of something closer to 65% of Apple’s market leader. Remove tablets? That number jumps to 82%.
The difference, says Lu, was in making “Android a first-class citizen” by planning for platform development from day one. For TinyCo, this meant more than tossing a couple programmers on the project. The Tiny sim series creator designed a proprietary engine – Griffin – which allows for simultaneous deploy of code to iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.
Admittedly, the blog post can be seen as a bit of a sales pitch for TinyCo’s engine more so than Android development. With that said, the huge gap in what Tiny Village “should” be making and what it is making can’t be ignored. I think Lu’s core argument – that success on Android means making it much more than an afterthought – hits the nail on the head. The biggest success stories and most inspirational tales of indie paydays might come from Apple devices, but it’s all about perspective. Tacking on an Android build to the last leg of development and tearing into Google for poor sales is like favouring one student and wondering why you don’t have karma with the rest of the class. On the other side of the coin, however, developers and teams on a limited budget can hardly be blamed. When a game as successful as Temple Run goes multiplatform and gets torn into for only optimizing for 900+ devices, it’s hard to see Android as a stable place to make games.
Like mobile itself, though, the growth of Android’s marketshare is a high-speed freight train that I feel developers will have to jump on if they don’t want to be run off the tracks. The community needs to band together to create and share tools to make the ecosystem easier to reign in, so the revenue buried in Google’s fragmented marketplace can be found. There’s gold in the dirt, it’s just about digging deep enough.