Game developer Mika Mobile has revealed it plans to abandon Android after development and support investment vastly outweighed revenue, blaming OS fragmentation and dozens of hardware versions as key frustrations. The developer, responsible for Zombieville USA and Battleheart among other titles, claims it spent around 20-percent of its time in 2011 dealing with Android – “porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc.” – but sales to Android users only contributed 5-percent of total revenue.
According to the Mika team, it’s the broad span of Android variants and different hardware types that cause the biggest headaches. Each iteration requires a different test handset – something that adds up to thousands of dollars, they claim – and time-consuming tweaks to make sure graphics chips are supported among other things.
“We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable” Mika Mobile
Google’s recent changes to Android app file size also come in for some criticism, with the shift from 50MB to 4GB being billed as somewhat misleading. Apps themselves must still come in at under 50MB for the initial .apk file downloaded, but Google now offers developers up to 4GB of space integrated with the Market for subsequent app-related download content.
Unfortunately, as Mika Mobile points out, that would require some significant rewriting of the games to actually take advantage of, an investment that revenue from Android apps doesn’t really warrant. “From a purely economic perspective, I can no longer legitimize spending time on Android apps, and the new features of the market do nothing to change this” the developer concludes.
Nonetheless, it’s the software flipside of the hardware fragmentation issue that Google has been battling for several years now. Back at his Mobile World Congress keynote, Google chairman Eric Schmidt argued that the search company was content with manufacturers taking Android in different directions, pointing out that, unlike Apple, Google didn’t sue over modifications.