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A Beginner's Path in Game Development: iOS vs Android
by Charlotte Walker on 08/06/14 09:23:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Every beginner needs to start somewhere, and your path as a developer will usually begin with a deceptively complex decision: which development platform should you begin working with? It's worth spending some time on this decision as each platform takes a while to fully master; your choice of development platform may very well shape your development career for some time to come.

iOS: A Simplified Path Towards Monetization

Though Android may be on significantly more devices, iOS has the advantage of not being as fragmented. Android devices can come in many sizes with significantly different builds. Developers know what they're getting into with iOS; developers need only test their applications on iPhones and (if desired) iPads and they will be able to reliably predict how the app will perform in the open market.

iOS is able to provide an easier path towards monetization due to the iTunes store, which makes it exceptionally easy for users to purchase applications and make in-app purchases. Thus, the primary benefit of iOS is that it is easier to develop on and that it's easier to get paid on. While Android may have a larger market, iOS users tend to be more willing to actually pay for applications rather than simply use free applications.


Process of adding a new app to the iTunes store

Android: A Growing But Scattered Market

iOS may be easier to monetize, but Android has the larger market by far. There are more devices that use Android, including smart watches, e-readers and even cars. For developers that want to have the widest possible reach, regardless of profit, Android is undoubtedly the best solution. Additionally, some believe that the market fragmentation that has plagued the Droid is less of an issue than it may at first seem.

The Android platform is also essential for those who want to program applications for cutting edge technologies such as Google Glass. If there is a specific Android-driven device that you want to develop an app for, you have very little choice but to move forward with the Android OS. With that in mind, Android users are used to free applications more than paid applications and the recent decision by Google to list applications that include in-app purchases as paid applications may have some long term effects.

And Door Number Three Says...

It would be remiss to not point out that a decision between iOS development and Android development need not necessarily be made. For more complex applications, many developers begin working with a development kit system that can export to both iOS and Android environments.

However, the choice still needs to be made which platform you will want to focus on and complete testing for. So while there is the possibility of developing outside of the iOS or Android SDK, you will still need to choose an SDK to move forward with if you are to develop a solid application.


Unity Game Engine can develop for iOS, Android and the Web at the same time (Source

Comparing The Benefits of iOS and Android

As of 2014, it is becoming clear that Android may very well be taking a permanent backseat to iOS in the consumer application market. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all developers should move towards iOS first. It only means that consumer-focused developers will likely find greater?success?on iOS.?iOS has a very clear advantage for developers seeking to reach the broadest possible audience and to monetize their applications. To be sure, iOS may very well be the easiest for beginners, due to the lack of market fragmentation.


Chart Source: Developing a Casino Application - Casino Tropez

With all that in mind, Android still has a very unique benefit that iOS simply can't compete with. It is the only option for those who are more interested in fringe and cutting-edge technologies, such as developing for smart watches and Google Glass. iOS may have a streamlined monetization path for iPhones and iPads, but they lack presence within the smart watch and wearable technology markets. There are some applications which are simply best suited to different types of device.


Google Glass apps are growing – as is their market and potential 

Is your ultimate goal to get hired at an application development company, create the next biggest and baddest smartphone game or build a fitness app that will revolutionize the way the world loses weight? Your goals will tell you which development platform you need to use. General, consumer-forward apps and games may be best suited towards iOS while Android may remain the platform of choice for experimental and alternative developers.


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Comments


Mike Messina
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Don't mean to shift gears on you, but I was wondering about programs/languages for making games. Game Maker seems to be a held very highly when it comes to devs who are just starting out. However, wouldn't that mean that you have to un-learn and re-learn certain aspects of code when you inevitably leave the Game Maker language?

Charlotte Walker
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Sorry about taking a while to get back to you - didn't realize you commented. It's generally the case that whichever new development software or language you use will require 're-learning' certain aspects of programming to fit the mold or process of that particular language. In my experience at least, it doesn't require a complete un-learning; the languages or software will usually have a similar general format and rules to the coding, while the differences are mostly in the details.

I would still recommend taking the time to go through tutorials or guides of GameMaker before beginning to tackle their 'studio' - this link seems to have a great list of resources: http://unluckystudio.com/how-can-i-learn-game-maker-language/

As a programmer friend of mine once told me, once you know one programming language, you have the mind-set to adapt to others. :)


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