Availability of games
The App Store and Google Play display all the wonderful games available both for free and payable. Games constitute a large section of both stores, with around 250,000 titles available in each.
Titles are often released first on one platform, followed shortly by the other; sometimes games are released almost simultaneously. No developer wants to cut out a large chunk of audience by restricting availability of their games, of course.
Most commonly social gaming apps are released first on Apple and then on Android – and that’s normally how the Monkeybin team releases our games too: Crossed and Hyspherical were both released first on iOS recently.
Despite the large number of titles in Google Play, few are exclusive to Android. However, iOS will often have a free run at a game for a while before it is later released on the rival platform: Plants vs. Zombies 2 by EA is a good recent example of this. Some games remain exclusive to iOS and are never released on Android – for instance Infinity Blade.
Free versus paid
When it comes to free games Android tends to outdo its main competitor. It may only be $0.99 to download on the App Store but many of these games are free on Play. Examples are many – but Angry Birds is one of the most striking.
In-game purchases like upgrades, virtual currency, power ups etc. are generally the same price whatever platform you are playing on.
The Play store also actively advertises its promotions and special offers; there is a whole section dedicated to discounted apps, unlike in the App store.
Old skool games
Another advantage of Android is that old skool gamers can get their fix of their favourite retro games using emulators; these allow you to play versions of classic games on your smartphone or tablet – something that Apple does not support within its App Store.
Apple still outguns Google in terms of gaming revenue. However the rapid growth of the Android user-base (78 percent of the global smartphone market compared to Apple’s 18 percent) has most analysts suggesting that the time when Android starts pulling in more than its close rival may not be too far away.
Conventional wisdom says that Apple users spend more, and are therefore a better target for game developers, but the sheer volume of Android users has started to change this thinking.
In 2013 the iPhone game market generated around 2.5 times the total revenues of Android games. Worldwide, games contribute to 40 percent of all app store downloads and about 75 percent of spending, so the sums we are talking about are huge.
In some parts of the world the importance of gaming cannot be overstated. In Korea, for example, games constitute 94 percent of Google Play’s revenue and 79 percent of iOS revenue, followed by music at a mere 4 percent.
A simple breakdown would show iOS as more dominant in the US, Canada, the UK, and much of Europe, with Android starting to dominate elsewhere, including in the all-important BRIC nations. This helps to explain the massive potential of Android.
The gaming experience
With expected Android updates, new ‘phablet’ devices like the Nexus 6 (with a 5.9 inch screen), and the move towards 64-bit computing and advanced graphics technology, the gaming experience on Android is improving.
The ultimate goal is PC-class gaming on mobile devices and the gap with Apple is expected to close further. Of course Apple’s own iOS 8 updates and the release of the iPhone 6 and new iPad with A8 processors and 64-bit processing keep Apple in a strong position too.
The present state of play between Android and iOS gaming shows that little has changed in the past year in terms of the raw revenue statistics but the great potential of Android to overshadow its Apple cousin is becoming clearer. It will be a fascinating battle between the two heavyweight mobile platforms, with Windows trying to muscle in on a little more market share, as we move into 2015.