Game Maker: A solution to growing fragmentation of the mobile games sector?
November 15, 2010
It appears that YoYo Games are trying to encourage mobile application developers to switch to using Game Maker by promising cross-platform support.
Android applications are written in Java, whilst Apps for the iPhone and iPad must be written using C, C++ or Objective-C. With the recent release of Windows 7 Mobile increasing amounts of development will need to be undertaken to make an app available across smart phones.
By developing runners for each of these platform YoYo Games take out the legwork of reproducing a game in different languages. YoYo have written and continue to write code to convert a single universal language (GML and Game Maker’s built in drag and drop system) into programs which can be run on multiple operating systems.
Easy app creation projects such as Google App Inventor and Nokia’s Ovi App Wizard have been started in an attempt to make app creation accessible to a greater section of users – however these are created by the owners of particular operating systems and designed to create apps for a single store. (Cross-platform support is on the way from Unity).
The cost to developers of writing their game just once using Game Maker is currently 50% of revenue, after distribution store sales commission (typically 30%) has been taken out of the equation, which goes to YoYo Games who act as publisher for your game.
There is however a potential for greater sales through cross-platform distribution and as support for new platforms is introduced, Android support is expected early 2011, games can be made available in new stores. Pocket Gamer report that YoYo Games are also “looking into the viability of Windows Phone 7, MeeGo and Nintendo 3DS in future, to offer a one-stop mobile publishing shop” [sic]. However inclusion in a particular store is at the discretion of YoYo Games who presumably will need to balance the initial inclusion fee they will have to pay and conversion effort required with envisaged sales figure.
Currently all Game Maker titles on mobile devices feature a YoYo Games splash screen and appear in YoYo Games’ account in each app marketplace. I can’t see this appealing to any but the smallest independent developers as it limits the control they have over their own work. I can’t imagine that “more serious” developers will be happy to give up full control of their title through YoYo’s polishing program either.
In remains unclear as to whether YoYo Games will in future release a white label solution enabling Game Maker users to publish their creations under their own name. Such a solution could enable developers to make use of the porting technology YoYo have developed but release titles under their own name and branding – obviously at a cost. Whether any white label solution comprises of a large upfront fee (former GameSalad model), a smaller license fee for every copy distributed or a combination of the two it would have to be priced a suitably high level in order to prevent stores being bombard with a plague of poorly written Game Maker apps. However a potential risk to any such model is that a licensee could then compete directly with YoYo Games by buying up Game Maker creations made by others or otherwise striking up publishing deals with game creators.
With news that mobile phone manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung are working on creating their own app stores that will work across the different mobile operating systems their devices support it looks like there will be some interesting developments in the app industry over the next couple of years!
YoYo’s current offer is unlikely to suit serious developers and will appeal more to existing Game Maker users and small developers of non-branded games and utilities. Whether or not this changes next year we will just have to wait and see.
What others say: Lynn who works on behalf of a company specialising in call center process outsource services says that the large number of phone manufacturers and operating systems confuses some older consumers. “Customers are confused by all of the competing and conflicting services on offer. Believe it or not some people are still perfectly happy with a phone that can just call and text”.