Platforms to Stand On

My company currently makes games for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

The first 2 have a good business case. Lots of people run Mac OS X and Windows, and buy games to play. (Thank you to all the customers who keep us small developers alive.)

Linux doesn't have as good a business case for us. Not very many people buy the Linux versions of our games. But, I foresee Linux continuing to grow in leaps and bounds on the desktop. And our codebase is in Java, so it isn't that much extra work to make Linux versions.

Going Mobile
The mobile OS wars are warming up fast. In the past we've gotten some scattered requests for PocketPC or Palm versions, but it hasn't seemed worthwhile. Apparently there was good money to be made selling Palm apps in the past, but greedy distributors (hearsay says Handango) and a decaying platform have destroyed it.

J2ME and BREW cellphone apps are making money, but only for a few big companies (at least in North America). The carriers have been very greedy distributors, and locked down their platform tightly.

Apple's iPhone is fresh mobile platform coming on strong. They've publicized their app distribution rate as taking a 30% cut. That's a lot better then most desktop games distributors (Yahoo Games typically takes 70%). Apple has been tremendously successful at iterating the iPod from version1 to perfection. They're following the same process with the iPhone, building a mobile platform from the ground up. I think the iPhone will be one of the long term mobile platform winners.

Google Android is the other mobile platform I'm keeping an eye on. Open-source and available for carriers to build on. Apps are written in the Java language, but using G's own VM and libraries. (A nice end-run around SUN, straight to Java developers.) It hasn't launched on any real phones yet, but I think it has huge potential. The first Android phones are supposed to be available "soon."

You already have a computer in your pocket (your cellphone). The big question for software developers is: what platform is your next one going to run?

Posted by dustin on June 9, 2008 with category tags of

7 comments
Thanks for the answer, Dustin! :)
   comment by vinny9 (#33) on June 10, 2008

Honestly, I believe the only platform that matters in gaming is the one that will ultimately run on Mac, PC, Linux, iPhone and mobile - the browser platform...

Seriously, if Lux ran in my browser, had an auto-matcher and I could play fast Castle Lux games, I would play Lux at least 10 times more.

Of course, that would mean that I'd probably be playing Lux for free, but I would totally spend some micro-purchase dollars on custom icons, and unique art for army pieces - and I'd love a cool Lux t-shirt.

Heck, over a year, you'd probably get $40-50 out of me.




   comment by Shane Neville on June 10, 2008

Browsers are pervasive, but the web is really built on a variety of platforms. Flash is a platform, ditto Java applets, Silverlight, etc.

Flash is a compelling choice and looks to be a long term survivor, across many different devices. Not the iPhone (yet) though.
   comment by dustin (#1) on June 10, 2008

Apple iPhone vs. Google Android - Popular Mechanics
   comment by dustin (#1) on June 11, 2008

A portable touch screen version of lux would be awesome. I tell you, in 5 or 6 years when I finally get me an iphone, I'd consider pirating that game.
   comment by LePhil on June 11, 2008

Are you thinking about writing LUX for the cellphone?
   comment by james on June 12, 2008

I am thinking about bringing Lux to some mobile platforms, yes.
   comment by dustin (#1) on June 12, 2008

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