[Editorial] Epic Games: You’re Thinking about it all wrong

Our resident argument starter, Charan, has decided to take on Epic’s recent announcement of no official Android support yet. While they wait for Google to take control of things more, feel free to voice your opinions here regarding the whole Epic/Android issue and anything else relating to it. Enjoy!

The recent announcement from Epic Games might have just killed the hopes for Android Gaming Fans that they’ll be getting awesome games like “Infinity Blade” , “Rage HD” soon. Their reasons, along with the announcement, were pretty lame stating the carriers and their bloatware made it impossible for them to get the needed memory for a flawless experience. Either they dont know how Android works and gave the announcement without testing on Android or there is something fishy here.

“Let’s say you took an NGP phone and made four versions of it. Each one would give you a different amount of memory and performance based on the crap [the carriers] put on their phone,”

The crap put on phone doesnt matter. Android handles the memory really really well. First, it has static memory for the hardware, like static memory for GPU, Camera etc unlike iOS where you are forced to close apps if your phone runs low on memory just to keep the hardware functioning.

The second part is the memory allocated the the software. Lets take Nexus One, It has 512MB of total RAM out of which 416MB is available to the System+Apps and the rest is static memory for hardware. Now they are worried about the carrier bloatware/skin taking up the memory. Android, unlike iOS, will close even the Launcher to keep the Foreground app ( The app your running) working. So if some carrier puts a bloatware app that takes 6-8 MB idle and your running the game System will automatically kill the Bloatware to keep the game running. The base of Android remains the same even if carrier/manufacturers put on skins/bloatware. It doesn’t matter what color of clothes you wear your productivity won’t decrease, neither would your performance. This is a pretty invalid reason for Epic Games here.

“Android is slow for Gaming”

You can’t really compare two platforms and tell which is faster for gaming. Android phones today run on GPU that are more than 4x the speed of the GPU in iPhone when comparing the OpenGL2.0 performance. Even Nexus One beats iPhone 4 in OpenGL2.0 performance scoring around 9.6FPS compared to ~5FPS on iPhone according the the OpenGL2.0 benchmark. So the Nexus One, which came out 6 months before the iPhone 4, sports a faster OpenGL2.0 GPU than iPhone 4. You can’t really say Android is slow for gaming. Taking example of Dungeon Defenders: First Wave. Compared to the Galaxy S ( The most sold Android Device to date), the iPhone 4 version runs like crap. Its runs around the same speed on iPhone 4 as it runs on the Nexus One ( I have compared it with my Brother’s iPhone ). Comparing Games by Gameloft, it runs the same speed on both the platforms. Its another lame reason to say Android is slow for Gaming.

“Android is Fragmented”

Android is currently dealing the best with fragmentation where a developer doesn’t need to make 2 new apps for different screen resolutions whereas if you’re on iOS and you need to make an iPad app you would prefer making 2 apps, one for iPhone and one for iPad. On Android you need a single app that tackles all resolutions. The Android Market has filters for app not showing up if a users phone doesn’t meet with app requirements whereas on iPhone every app shows up and you come to know if the app is compatible or not after reading through description and trying to install, pretty annoying.

Fragmentation also stops developers from using newer API which are not backward compatible. Today, around 90% device are on 2.1+ and since 2.1 the API changes which would break something like a game are around 0.1% of the total changes. So developing shouldn’t be a problem.

About the hardware, all games should run on hardware equal or greater than 1st gen snapdragon (Droid isnt included because of the RAM). First Gen Snapdragon offers a faster performance in GL 2.0 than iPhone 4 and comparing the intensivity of Infinity Blade it is way less intensive than Dungeon Defenders which run on Nexus One well. Infinity Blade is making GPU process 2 characters and static surroundings which are really not compared to Dungeon Defenders where the GPU is processing way more characters and surroundings.

Today on the market 80% of the Android devices sold are minimum 1st gen Snapdragon. So Hardware Fragmentation isnt really a problem for Game Developers. The only problem I can think of is compiling for different GPUs and making a special downloader which downloads the files based on the GPU the device has which shouldnt be a big problem for someone who is making a game considering the skills required to actually be a game developer.

“Android isn’t Profitable”

iOS has had many 1 day millionaire stories but the tables have turned now. The developers who have invested in Android are earning way more that what they are earning on iOS. Take examples like Spacetime Studios, the developers of Pocket Legends, who say Android users purchase more and they earn around 50% more on Android than on iOS and 50% is pretty big difference. They even stopped advertising their game on iOS and started spending more money to advertise their game on Android and this is even before Google implemented the in-app purchases. I don’t know where the difference would be now seeing Google has implemented the in-app purchases.

Lets take another example, Rovio, which launches their Angry Birds games on Android and there was news in around December that they topped $1 million in advertising revenue per month from Angry Birds on Android. I dont think they would still be selling a million units per month on iOS seeing to earn $1 million a month for their game which costs $0.99. Similarly developers like yonghz ( the emulator guy ) , Lupis Labs ( Robo Defense) , Halfbrick Studios ( Fruit Ninja), Gamehouse ( Doodle Jump ) , Com2US, Game Evil, KairoSoft,  and tons more who are making money by developing games on Android.

For the Apps there are LevelUp Studios, MAX MP, ClockWorkMOD, DATAVIZ, etc so if you make a good app you are surely to be appreciated and rewarded. You can’t just make stupid games then whine about not earning. And you just can’t say something is not profitable by not even releasing a game on it.

If other game developers like Gameloft, EA, etc can make their games work on Android devices flawlessly then whats the problem with Epic Games? I love Infinity Blade! It came to a point that I would borrow my brother’s iPhone, which I personally hate using, just to play that Epic game. This article isn’t just for Epic Games but for many other developers who haven’t developed/tried developing on Android but keep whining about how bad it is. So think before you say “No” to Android as it might be bigger and better for your app/game as there are still many who are in search of a perfect game to play.

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