Will Android Games Ever Top Apple Apps?

Will Android Games Ever Top Apple Apps?

When the Internet talks about mobile gaming versus handheld gaming (and ho-boy, there has been a lot of that kind of talk lately), the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and Sony PSP are studied as distinct soldiers fighting a heated battle in their own ways. Any mention of Google’s Android game market, however, tends to be stapled onto discussions about the iPhone App Store. A good example of this kind of “Oh, and” can be observed on this IndustryGamers report about the Nintendo DS and PSP losing ground to iOS and Android games. Whereas the DS and PSP’s numbers are represented individually, iOS and Android games are bunking together on their piece of the pie chart.

It’s enough to make you pause and wonder: Where does Android’s game market sit, specifically?

Let’s be honest: When we talk about mobile games, we get a clear picture of an iOS device in our heads. Android smartphones and tablets are an afterthought. While iPhone app and game developers do have to deal with some OS fragmentation, it’s nothing compared to the Android’s frequently-lamented fragmentation, which can lead to a whole whack of phones with different operating systems being put on sale at the same time. This leads to a scramble to make Android games as compatible for as many phones as possible, but someone inevitably gets left out. Cue sad game developers and sad Android users.

Debates rage over how serious Android’s fragmentation issues are. Some mobile phone enthusiasts and game developers say it’s not so bad; others claim that developing for the Android is a touch of hell. Will Android-based gaming ever acquire the status it needs to hold its own against the likes of Nintendo and Sony, or are its success stories forever doomed to be tacked on to Apple’s?

It’s going to take significant work and time for the Android’s game library to even touch the iPhone’s in terms of quality and quantity. Even Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka thinks that the “fragmentation of the [Android] ecosystem,” when held up against Apple’s own “ecosystem,” is a problem.

“Android is open, but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem,” Vesterbacka said at a press event held in late April. By contrast, Vesterbacka praised the iPhone for changing the gaming landscape forever.

Angry Birds is available on the Android Marketplace (free!), so Rovio knows a bit about the angst that comes with Android game development. It’s not all bad news, though. Earlier this year, Kongregate, one of the web’s biggest online sites for free Flash-based games, brought some of its games to the Android with “Kongregate Arcade.” In fact, given time, the Android Marketplace may well build up a nice reserve of exclusive Flash-based games, given Apple and Adobe’s inability to, shall way say, play nicely together.

Some Android owners believe that there will come a time when developers port Android games to the iOS, instead of attempting to do vice-versa. That might be a case of waiting for the lion and lamb to lie down together. Even so, mobile gaming’s popularity is blazing, which makes it unlikely that developers will let a few programming inconveniences stop them from learning how to tap into the Android’s gaming potential.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. This is interesting:


    IHS Screen Digest estimates that £1.1billion of revenue flowed through Apple’s App store last year.

    Android Market managed just £62m. The figure was lower than both Blackberry App World (£100m) and Nokia’s Ovi store (£64m).

    That’s about 6% of the revenue. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

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