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Revisiting Android

May 28, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 7 of 10 Next

Hidden Variable Studios

Charley Price (CCO)

Prior dev background (platforms): GBA, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Flash, iOS, Android
Shipped Android titles:
Bag It!
Preferred toolset:

Is fragmentation still a major issue for you? Which devices do you target?

It's always a worry, but in some ways the variety of devices is so broad, it pretty much demands that you define your min spec criteria early in the development process so you can make sense of it all. Given that we simultaneously develop for iOS as well, our min spec decision hardware-wise on that platform helped to implicitly inform the min spec choices we made for Android.

Knowing the risks of different screen sizes/aspect ratios, we've developed our titles with floating UI elements that anchor (or are positioned relative to) the edges of the play space, and made sure that slight variations in viewable space don't impact gameplay dramatically. As such, when new devices and aspect ratios were released, we've generally been able to support them right out of the gate.

As for devices, a combination of App Store data and Flurry analytics gives us a pretty good sense of what types of devices are being used to play our game. As such, we tend to focus much of our attention on our first-gen NOOK Color and Kindle Fire (among our most popular devices with narrow aspect ratios) and our Nexus One (as a min spec).

Do you have any tips for optimizing the Android dev process?

Most of our Android-specific notes end up being directly related to our experiences developing in Unity. For example, many of the risks of creating Android-specific plug-ins can be mitigated using inexpensive, off-the-shelf solutions from sites like

Going into more detail, one of our engineers, Clark Kromenaker, wrote up some thoughts on his blog about some of the pitfalls inherent in storing data on Android devices (for example, local memory vs. SD card memory), which would likely be a good read for new Android devs.

How have your games sold on Android?

We first released Bag It! back in late 2011 on both iOS and Android simultaneously. Since then, we have released it on almost a dozen different Android app stores, both worldwide and foreign territory-specific (including Samsung, Mobiroo, and Fuhu to name a few less-common examples), but the only ones that have really generated a meaningful financial return for us thus far have been Google, Amazon, and B&N NOOK.

Overall, our iOS versions of Bag It! have outperformed our Android SKUs in terms of total downloads 7:1 (although if you remove one big iOS promo event it's closer to 3:1). However, if you just count paid downloads, iOS and Android as a whole are neck and neck (with iOS slightly ahead). That said, IAPs still favor iOS, with almost a 3:1 advantage over Android.

These numbers are generally pretty surprising to fellow mobile devs, many of whom have opted to eschew Android as a platform for fear of lack of sales. In particular, both Google Play and B&N NOOK have been pretty equal in terms of sales, both outperforming Amazon by a reasonable margin. One of the reasons we suspect we've been so successful on the B&N NOOK store is the fact that it currently only supports premium games (with free "trial" versions available for full titles). As such, as a premium title, you're able to avoid the glut of freemium games on other platforms, which allows you to stand out a bit more.

Article Start Previous Page 7 of 10 Next

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