Mar

8

“Android First” Mentality: The Challenges and Advantages

Mark Stephens

An “Android First” mentality means developing for Android ahead of other platforms – and this approach has worked well for some. One such developer is US-based Kiwi Games – maker of titles like Shipwrecked:Lost Island, Westbound, and Hidden Object: Mystery Estate. Its strategy of focusing on Android has enabled it to boast multiple games in Google Play's Top 100 Grossing list, with many millions of downloads....

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What are the main challenges and advantages of this approach?

A recent interview with Kiwi CEO Omar Siddiqui, published in Inside Mobile Apps, helped to throw light on this question. Based on that interview we look at the main advantages and challenges presented by Android development over iOS or focusing on Facebook.

Key Advantages

Less Crowded Market in the Early Days

Although the Android market for games has caught up rapidly, it once represented a less crowded and less competitive market than developing for iOS or Facebook first. For companies that got in and became established there were openings to exploit from which they are now reaping the rewards.

Quicker to Market for Games

Getting games to market rapidly is an important factor that influences the decision to focus on Android. Early feedback from users has helped developers to fine tune their games and make them the best possible quality before aiming for the huge download totals.

Siddiqui says:

“We found Android to be a great place to launch our products and then rapidly iterate them as we try to make them more compelling for consumers.”

Easy to Work With

Android has ironed out many of the difficulties that developers faced a couple of years back. Clearly it’s in its own interests to be as attractive as possible for developers and it is much easier to work with than in the past.

Key Challenges

Initial Difficulties with Fragmentation

The main challenge with Android games, especially in the early stages, has been that many of the developer tools were difficult to work with and the sheer diversity of devices they were required to support. This made it a very fragmented environment.

Even today, developers must try to support as many of the previous versions of the platform as possible, as well as taking advantage of all the advances in technology, to give games the maximum appeal and reach.

Standing Out

Even the best and most established developers have to struggle to get noticed in a crowded app environment.

Siddiqui says:

“Both iOS and Android have over 800,000 apps, so there’s no two ways about it, you need to make a great product if you want to breakthrough. At the end of the day, making a high quality product is what’s necessary if you want to get noticed on either platform.”

Conquering the Tablet Market

To date, Android tablets have generally struggled against the iPad, so cashing in on the huge potential of tablet gaming means also developing games for iOS – most savvy developers already create cross-platform games, including Kiwi, though their policy is Android first.

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More generally, advice for developers is always welcome from those that have already made a big splash in the market. So what does Siddiqui feel is the key to cracking the current mobile gaming market? He reminds us that there is “always room for excellence” and goes on to say:

“This is a creative business, and there are risks with every game you launch, but the way we’ve been able to keep to our standard of launching only those games that we feel are among the best games of Android, have really led to our success. We also have all the analytics and support structure behind all of our games so that once the games are out in the market, we’re able to customize our games to the widest possible audience. You never know what people will find fun or not.”