Gamevil美国公司总裁Kyu Lee认为，如果要开发手机游戏，iPhone是最适合的原始运行平台。它拥有最庞大的下载安装量，几乎是Android的10倍，而且拥有统一的产品发售渠道。当然， 这并不是说其他手机平台发展缓慢，只不过就开发手机游戏而言，这些手机平台还无法创造可观的回报。
但移植iPhone游戏则不同，它的投入比开发游戏少得多，开发商可以根据预算适当调整移植项目或移植平台等。一般来说，预算较低的游戏开发商明显更为“挑剔”。譬如，曼哈顿Area/Code公司旗下的热门iPhone游戏Drop 7便只移植到Android平台。对此，该公司联合创始人及创意总监Frank Lantz认为， Android提供的是另一种标准化的平台，就像iPhone一样，可以提供强大的游戏体验，不像其他手机平台一样容易受到技术标准不一这个缺点的影响。
Wedbush securities公司的行业分析师Michael Pachter认为，目前手机游戏开发商面临的两大挑战之一，即非iPhone手机平台的发展不如预期，尤其是缺乏大众化的发售渠道。他指出，苹果App Store提供了一个可便捷展示，搜索和发现iPhone游戏的平台，但其他手机平台却没有堪比App Store的产品发售渠道。互联网是一个十分广阔的领域，游戏开发商如何才能令潜在用户发现自己的游戏呢？如果开发商不能实现这一操作，游戏玩家就只好采用运营商提供的服务，但运营商在游戏营收分成的问题上总是狮子大开口，这就大大减少了开发商的利润。
Gamevil美国公司总裁Kyu Lee也赞同这一观点，认为黑莓和Window Mobile是相对较新的“单一市场”，使用起来远不如App Store方便。
据游戏邦了解，黑莓手机的App World和微软Windows Marketplace for Mobile虽然都已分别在2009年4月和2月上线，但Lee 认为这两家公司并没有用心经营它们的应用商店。对此，Area/Code工作室的Lantz也表示，2008年10月发布的Android MarkerPlace使用流程令人不知所谓，提供的服务不如App Store便捷，更像是将所有产品随便堆在一起，仍有很多不足之处。
由于登上了App Store的游戏推荐榜单，Area/Code的原创iPhone游戏Drop 7收获了不俗的下载量。
对此，Lantz认为App Store是一个热门市场，主要销量都集中在一小撮游戏上。如果不投入足够的资金进行市场营销，大部分小型游戏开发商就无法逃脱被埋没的命运。App Store的游戏产品五花八门，但取得成功的只是少数，大部分游戏只能沦为陪衬。Drop 7是获得苹果推荐后，才争取到了更多曝光率，提升了下载量。不过如果进军Android手机平台，却没有类似App Store一样给力的发行渠道，Android版的Drop7必将面临重重困难。
奇怪的是，尽管盗版问题日益猖獗，游戏市场竞争日益激烈，仍有一些开发商对于苹果App Store严格把关的立场仍然颇为不满。Gamevil公司总裁Kyu Lee就曾听闻有些开发商决定在非iPhone手机用户群体增长前采取观望态度，当然这类开发商仅是少数。
Smartphone Advice: Keep On Porting!
When it comes to developing smartphone games, the smart money is still on the iPhone. Games for the other smartphone platforms are more likely than not iPhone ports.
And, say those in the know, it’s likely to remain that way for some time to come.
Budgets simply aren’t there for original games for the Blackberry, Palm, Android, Windows Mobile, and so on, whose installed bases are considerably slimmer than the iPhone’s. Instead, developers have taken to cherry-picking the best-selling iPhone games and then porting them to just one or two additional platforms.
Take the case of Seoul, Korea-based Gamevil. For the past few years, the 10-year-old mobile game developer has built approximately 10 games a year for the Korean market. Of those, six or so are brought to the U.S. for the iPhone and, of those six, the three or four best-selling titles are ported to other smartphone platforms.
“If you’re developing from scratch, the only platform that makes sense right now is the iPhone,” says Kyu Lee, president of Gamevil USA in Torrance, CA. “It has the largest installed base — perhaps 10 times that of Android, the runner-up — and one single point of distribution.
“That’s not to say that the other platforms aren’t growing at a rapid pace, but not enough at the moment to justify development costs from scratch. Porting is a different matter; those costs are significantly less and may justify a port for each of the other smartphone platforms depending on your budget.”
Developers with tighter budgets are significantly more selective. At Manhattan-based Area/Code, for instance, the developer made the decision to create only an Android port of its hit game Drop 7, which originally launched for the iPhone last January.
“It seemed to us that Android offers another type of standardized platform, like the iPhone, that is powerful enough to deliver a quality game experience and, at the same time, wasn’t going to be fragmented and fractured the way the rest of the mobile market is,” says Frank Lantz, co-founder and creative director.
Building the Android port, which released just a few weeks ago, wasn’t necessarily a simple task. “I don’t think there’s anything inherently easier in going from the iPhone to the Android than from, say, the PC to the Mac or from one console to another. It’s definitely a different language and requires a different code base,” says Lantz. “It’s got all the issues.”
Nevertheless, he reveals Area/Code may eventually do a Blackberry port as well, but none for Palm or Windows Mobile. “Our sense is the scale just isn’t there,” he says. “That the audience for those devices just isn’t large enough.”
One of the two biggest challenges for mobile developers — and the primary reason non-iPhone platforms haven’t grown faster than they have – is the lack of popular delivery mechanisms, according to Michael Pachter. Pachter, an industry analyst, is senior VP, research, entertainment software publishing and retail at LA-based Wedbush Securities.
“The App Store makes it easy for people to display, search for, and find iPhone games,” he says. “There isn’t a really good analogous distribution model for the other handsets. I mean, we’re talking about the internet here, which is a huge place. How do you tell people where to find your games? And so gamers end up being captive to the carrier decks. In addition, the carriers take the lions’ share of the revenue, which makes it less lucrative for the developers.”
Gamevil USA’s Lee concurs, describing the Blackberry and Windows Mobile “single marketplaces” as fairly new and not as convenient to use as the iPhone’s App Store.
Blackberry’s App World went live last April and Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile last February. But, says Lee, “I haven’t seen either of the companies driving the online stores full force.”
And, according to Area/Code’s Lantz, the Android Marketplace – which opened in October 2008 — is “every bit as confusing and hard to use as the iPhone App Store; it
just looks thrown together and a lot worse.”
Having one marketplace in which to sell a game gave sales of Area/Code’s original iPhone version of Drop 7 a huge boost when the game made an App Store recommendation list put together by Apple.
“This is a very hit-driven market, where the majority of sales are localized in a handful of titles,” explains Lantz. “If you don’t have money to spend on marketing – and most of us small developers don’t – it’s difficult to overcome the discovery problem. The App Store has a profusion of titles, which means that only a handful become runaway successes while the vast majority don’t get any traction at all. It wasn’t until we got promoted by Apple that we got some visibility and sales picked up momentum.”
However, he says, promoting the Android version of Drop 7 will be more challenging without the benefit of a single marketplace that is as supportive as was the App Store.
The second hurdle, says Pachter, is determining the right mobile gaming audience to enable developers to chase the installed base.
“The Blackberry audience is largely working people who rely on their device for e-mail, so they are probably less likely to be gamers,” he explains. “I think you want the younger, cooler phone, which is the Android. It clearly doesn’t have as big an installed base, but it will. It’s going to be huge.” He admits being unable to cite comparative gaming data. “The Android is so new and there are probably not more than five million out there. No one is going to have an accurate tracking of what it is cataloguing yet.”
Without really good data, says Gamevil’s Lee, developers need to go with their gut when deciding which games they choose to design for which platforms.
“Each platform has a distinctly different audience,” he says, “which, at the moment, can only be determined by gut feel. For instance, Android owners tend to be more male, more tech savvy.
“You might want to give them a more hardcore gaming experience than you’d give Blackberry owners who tend to use their devices for business in order to send text
messages and e-mails. Because the platform is rather slow, you can’t run heavy 3D games on a Blackberry; casual games work better.”
Regardless which non-iPhone platform a developer selects, they can expect to face the exact same piracy issues that have become commonplace in the iPhone community.
According to Greg Yardley, over 60 percent of iPhone applications have been pirated, “and the number is probably higher than that.” Yardley is co-founder and CEO of Manhattan-based Pinch Media, a company that provides analytic software for iPhone games. “Getting ripped off by pirates is the rule rather than the exception.”
Area/Code’s Lantz hasn’t heard much chatter about the problem outside of the iPhone, but he suspects he will: “I can only imagine that it will be far worse on platforms like Android, because of its open-source nature,” he predicts. “Frankly, we haven’t given it much thought, but maybe I should be more concerned.”
At Gamevil, piracy has become an issue, especially on non-iPhone platforms. “The iPhone is more difficult than any of the mobile platforms to pirate,” says Lee. “At least you have to jailbreak the phone to pirate; on the others, jailbreaking isn’t necessary… you can just download the game files off the internet and install them.”
While Gamevil is aware of its games being pirated, Lee says they have found no solution. “We just live with it,” he says.
Michael Pachter expects developers won’t be taking such a blasé attitude in the near future. “I expect the problem will get worse, especially since Apple does such a terrible job of protecting digital rights,” he explains. “The proof is that developers often see five or six times as many postings on their leaderboards as copies of the game sold. I’ve heard of piracy rates up to 90 percent. The only games that don’t get pirated are free-to-play titles. They’re free so why would anyone copy them; what’s the point?”
The irony is that, despite the growing piracy and increasing competition, there are few reports of developers being discouraged by the rigors of the mobile marketplace. Gamevil’s Lee has heard of several developers taking a “wait-and-see” attitude until the installed base of non-iPhone users grows. But they are in the minority, he says.
Indeed, Pachter’s best advice to developers is to jump in with both feet – build games for the iPhone and then port away to all the other platforms.
“You’re looking at a potential market for smartphones of probably a billion in the next 10 years,” he predicts. “Developers ought to take advantage of the fact that the barriers to entry are low – you can create an iPhone game and then port it inexpensively for $5,000 to $10,000 or less per platform.
“Why would anyone want to build a stand-alone game just for, say, Android? That doesn’t make any sense at all,” he adds. “It’s like making a game specifically for a Dell PC that doesn’t work on an HP PC. You might as well make a game for the iPhone and then port it everywhere!”（Source：Gamasutra）