Can a unified game platform for mobiles work?

Can a unified game platform for mobiles work?

By Rob Crossley

July 15th 2009 at 12:31PM

Glu Mobile studio head Chris White thinks not, offering tips for multiplatform porting

Proposals for a single video game system have existed ever since platform holders began competing with one other.

Thought the consensus is that the home console market would generally suffer with a unified system, a solitary games platform for mobile phones – one that ties together the multitude of high-end systems out there – is perhaps a more reasonable concept.
  
However, the view of Chris White - studio head at mobile and social developer Glu – was that a unified smartphone platform would not be feasible.

“[For developers], to really benefit from any platform you always will need to do some specific development work for it,” said White, speaking at the fourth annual Develop Conference in Brighton, UK.

“If Glu Mobile didn’t have to develop games across five different mobile platforms and just focused on one phone, be it iPhone or Android, you’d probably end up with a much more tailored experience,” said White.

“The reality of the situation is that’s not possible.”

White’s Develop Conference speaker session covered the issues of developing games across multiple platforms while getting the best out of each.

“Yes, [a unified mobile platform] could be useful, but I would always pay specific attention to each platform and make customisations.”

When asked if he thought an exclusive universal mobile platform was even feasible, White said “there is technology that does this kind of thing, but the problem is that – from a development point of view – as soon as you start using it, someone will come along and say ‘why aren’t you using the accelerometer on this device? Why aren’t you using multi-touch?’”

As studio head at Glu Mobile, White has seen the developer deliver its standout title - Stranded: Mysteries of Time – begin life as a J2ME-based game before being ported across to Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iPhone.

His advice for mobile developers attempting the same feat should focus on the biggest edition of the game first and scale down.

He said that developers should think about using in-game graphics can be reused in each mobile edition, and warned that controls would need to be as straightforward as possible in order to port across platforms swimmingly.