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Stateside: Nevermind launching your iOS game on Android, it's time to target your oven, too

The future of games dev is multiplatform

Stateside: Nevermind launching your iOS game on Android, it's time to target your oven, too
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Want to know the future of Android and mobile gaming? It might not be in a your pocket or nestled neatly in your bag; it could be in an unexpected place, right in front of your eyes, or perhaps even in your kitchen.

And that's a good reason for developers to be ready for Android - if not now, then in the very near future.

The number of opportunities for developers tied to Google's OS to make money is only going to increase as more and more Android-powered devices flood every facet of our lives.

Eye on Oculus

One such device could be the Oculus Rift - the head-mounted 3D "virtual reality" display that's seemingly been doing the rounds for yonks now.

John Carmack - co-creator of Doom & Quake and currently CTO at Oculus - said an interview with Engadget that, instead of being just an HDMI display as the current developer-only models are, the Oculus Rift could eventually run Android, serving as a device "that has a system-on-a-chip that's basically like what you have in mobile phones."

Such a move could make a lot of sense for Oculus: if it was running its own system at its core, it could gain wider appeal as a consumer hardware device. It could sport its own app store and still be hooked up to computers as an external device.

Someone could buy an Oculus Rift and play content on it right on the display. And Oculus could use a store, based on existing mobile OS technology, that could specialise in content designed to push the Rift's capabilities, while leaving the avenues for its use as an external display firmly open, too.

Given the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) means the bulk of the OS is open - discounting Google services which are closed source - it's accessible to anyone with the means to integrate it.

And since it's meant for mobile devices, it's perfect for the aforementioned systems on a chip, designed to fit into tight casings with limited space, much like the Oculus Rift.

New avenues

All in all, in my view it's the perfect candidate for an Oculus Rift OS.

Developers would have to make their Oculus content run on Android and, with the burgeoning number of multiplatform engines (not to mention the likelihood that specialised Unity plugins for Oculus Rift Android export would be in the offing), working on it would not be a massive hurdle.

What's more, mobile hardware is steadily catching up to laptops and desktops, at least to the point where, in a couple of years, it's possible the Oculus Rift could natively run visually-stunning games at high resolution.

Yes, this is one extended and extrapolated scenario, but it's far from the only potential Android future. And developers need to pay attention: Android will reach certain spaces where iOS has yet to venture.

It's true that, in iOS and its associated App Store, Apple has fostered the leading market for mobile developers: it's stable, testing is easy because the number of supported devices is small compared to Android, and iterations happen on a yearly basis.

Unless a magical fragmentation solution for Android is found – and as long as iPhones and iPads remain popular - the App Store will continue to be mobile gaming's leading OS.

But Apple's been slow to make a microconsole, and – given Apple TV was a no-show yet again at the firm's iPad even yesterday - may just wind up skipping it this holiday season altogther.

Also, consider this: There's no iOS-powered oven yet, but there is one for Android.

Open for all

And that's the thing: Android's openness encourages manufacturers to jump into wild new markets with it.

Microconsoles, VR headsets, appliances - these are all new avenues for mobile, and represent potential new opportunities for game developers.

Get games on a TV with Android. Show off true 3D content with Android. A watched pot may not boil, but if you're playing Candy Crush on your stove's Android-powered display, it sure will. And who knows what other wild ideas could happen, particularly as more capable hardware gets cheaper.

All these new Android-powered platforms present more ways for game developers to make money, with the ease of using a familiar OS. More Android devices equals a demand for more ways to use them that developers can fill. Developers need to be ready to jump on viable new opportunities.

This is even true for iOS-focused developers, because – and this is the crux of the matter - the world is no longer neatly divided into people who just use one OS.

There are people who own Galaxy Notes and iPads. iPhones and Surfaces. There are Mac, iPhone, and iPad owners who own an Ouya, because it's intriguing and because Apple hasn't jumped into that space yet.

You'll even find Windows Phone owners who have an abandoned Motorola Xoom gathering dust on their side tables, or someone with an HTC One that still uses the cheap HP TouchPad they picked up in its fire sale of an evening.

A customer who wants content for their mobile-OS-powered device can't be placed into just one camp, especially as Android spreads from device to device. As such, developers shouldn't sit in one camp either.

Advantage Android

Yes, Android is a tricky platform to develop for, maybe even requiring a multiple of the work and testing it does on iOS, but with multiplatform tools, it's possible even an iOS-first developer could target specialised Android hardware.

The long and short of it is, as much as it may pain Apple, Google or Microsoft to acknowledge, the consumers of the future aren't going to be tied to just one OS.

Even the most loyal of customers are going to be spread thin across multiple platforms, whether they like it or. Life will take care of that.

Why should a developer's strategy only target one OS, then? Go where the customers are, even if that leads you to some strange places.

Now, I'm off to the future to play Candy Crush Saga on my toilet. Quite literally.

Chicago-based Carter Dotson is a senior writer at 148Apps.com, which was acquired by PocketGamer.biz publisher Steel Media in 2012.