Instead, Gameloft finance director Alexandre de Rochefort declared (via Reuters) that the company’s got beef with Android. “We have significantly cut our investment in Android platform, just like … many others,” he said at an investor conference in Barcelona. He explained that the Android Market is just too weak compared to the iPhone’s App Store, on which Gameloft sells 400 times more games.
“Google has not been very good to entice customers to actually buy products,” Rochefort said. “On Android nobody is making significant revenue.”
I’m not an Android phone owner, so I can’t speak at length about the Android Market experience. From my understanding, it’s no great shakes. But as a gamer, I can spot a few things that are holding Android back.
For starters, Android 2.0 was the platform’s first version to support multi-touch, a vital feature for first-person shooters such as Wolfenstein 3D or the excellent Eliminate Pro. In Gameloft’s case, no multi-touch means no Assassin’s Creed 2 or Gangstar: West Coast Hustle, both of which rely on multi-touch controls.
Then you’ve got the low application storage limits found in most Android hardware to date. Even the latest, Motorola’s Droid, only allows for 256 MB of app storage. As Android and Me notes, that rules out a game like Myst, which on the iPhone occupies 727 MB.
I also think there’s a silent killer at hand in the form of emulators. I sampled a friend’s Droid last weekend, and I couldn’t believe that he could play classic Nintendo, Genesis and Super NES games on his phone. That’s an asset if you’re a consumer, but I don’t doubt that emulators cannibalize game sales in the Android Market.
To top it off, I don’t get the sense that Android phone manufacturers and carriers are marketing video games as a big use. Check out the pinwheel on Verizon’s Droid Web site — gaming barely gets a mention.
The sad thing is that most of the points I mention are being addressed, or are at least fixable. Gameloft has every right to complain, as developers do, but maybe the company is bailing out at precisely the wrong time.