Android consumers 'are put off by paying'

Android consumers 'are put off by paying'

By Rob Crossley in Barcelona

June 30th 2011 at 11:39AM

Google doesn't have the game genes, and Android is swept by piracy, says panel of mobile game developers

Apple’s famously obsessive customers are an ideal paying demographic, whereas the Android scene is filled with freeloaders, a trio of game developers have said.

Speaking at the Gamelab 2011 industry event in Barcelona, three leading developers in the mobile games space each said Apple’s smartphone was clearly the preferred games platform.

Michael Schade, whose company Fishlabs built the mobile title Galaxy On Fire, said the Android edition of that game has been pirated by 90 per cent of its customers.

“And in-app purchasing is pirated on Android as well,” he said. “We added in-app purchases on our game and it was pirated in a matter of days.”

Ad-funded free apps are largely pointless on Android too, Schade said, because millions of downloads are needed for meaningful returns – unless an app is made on the cheap.

“Android has piracy issues, we have software purchasing issues too – it’s a very big problem – and we can end up being charged for customers getting refunds,” Schade told a crowded room of developers.

His criticisms were echoed by two other mobile games developers who shared the stage with him.

Digital Legends CEO Xavier Carillo, and NaturalMotion boss Torsren Reil, both praised Apple’s dev ecosystem and had little positive to say of Google’s competing service.

“We are very much an iOS games developer,” Reil said. “Apple has been a much more superior platform. It’s better in overall relationships in understanding games, much better understanding of developers, and the billing processes are much easier.”

Reil continued: “Android has potential, but it doesn’t just have fragmentation or billing issues, it’s the demographic too.”

Shade elaborated on this point, that central to Android’s setbacks is the consumer conscience it has fostered.

“Apple as a company is one that delivers premium electronic devices and people who have them are willing to pay for content. With Android, its customers think the platform is open.”

Google’s proposition across all its services, including its dominant search engine, is that everything is free and open, Shade said.

“Google is missing the gaming genes,” he added. “Android is missing a trick; a quality, premium section. Google does not understand that software drives hardware sales.”

Schade advised that developers new to Android should begin with a low-budget title.

Reil added that Google is aware of its issues and is working to resolve them.

The panel’s sweeping criticisms of Android comes as independent data suggests the Google OS is now a more popular than Apple’s.