Where have all the iOS games gone?

Gosh it’s been ages since I have posted anything on here.

Anyway I see this question coming up a lot in my twitter stream so I thought I’d post a reply here that I can link to when it comes up.

We spent two years doing games on iOS and in the end we stopped doing them because the income generated from them was so tiny that it ended up actually costing *us* money. Despite excellent reviews both by users and on relevant gaming websites, and notwithstanding the sheer number of iOS devices out there which would, you might think, make it viable for even stuff slightly off mainstream to find enough of an audience to comfortably sustain them, this proved not to be the case and we couldn’t in any way justify carrying on with it.

Which is kind of sad, because I actually rather enjoyed the work. The hardware was nice to work with and well suited to the kind of games I like to do, and I enjoyed the challenge of overcoming the difficulty of doing decent controls on a touchscreen and making something you could happily play on a phone or tablet. In fact to this day the only other thing I play on my phone apart from the contents of my Llamasoft folder is Scrabble.

To give some idea of just how awful iOS was for us, the first non-iOS game I did after spending two years on iOS, released on a Sony handheld that many describe as being “obscure”, generated literally *thousands* of times more income for us than two years and ten games on iOS with its potential billions of users. In the face of that I would have been absolutely daft to spend any more time at all on iOS.

So we quit developing for iOS, but for a few years we still paid the yearly developer fee just so that the games would remain up in the App Store. Not because we were making any money from them (towards the end I’d made pretty much all of them free anyway, since as we weren’t getting any income from them I didn’t see why people shouldn’t just be allowed to take them if they wanted).

Then halfway through the iPhone 6 life cycle we started to hear that newer phones were not working well with some of the games and they were crashing. And the thing is by now we don’t have any working Macs left to do development work on, and we’d effectively have to upgrade stuff and buy new Apple kit to test on and spend time going back and reworking all the games to make them work again and… given just how little we got out of them in the first place, and how skint we are and committed to other work, we just can’t justify supporting them any more. So this time when the dev license came up for renewal we let it lapse. Over time the games are only going to get more broken relative to newer hardware anyway and I didn’t want to leave stuff up there that people would download and increasingly find to be crashy and broken.

I realise it’s not ideal and must be annoying if you have a folder full of our stuff and it disappears when you get a new phone, and I’m sorry that it works out like that, but we simply don’t have the resources to support these games indefinitely on a constantly changing platform like iOS.

My recommendation if you really love the games that much and want to keep them around is to take an old iOS device you have upgraded from – the games should run well even on hardware as old as the old iPhone 3s – jailbreak it and download the games from some pirate site for free with my blessing.

Failing that get ahold of a cheap-ass Android tablet – even the cheapest and assiest out there should have sufficient oomph to run those games in this day and age – and take the free .apks that we have put up for our Android ports of five of the iOS games on this site.

In the end we’re sorry that it’s come to this. The sad thing is that if only there’d been a few more users, if only we’d been able to charge a couple of quid instead of a pittance, I could have been quite happy doing more of those little games indefinitely. I really enjoyed the short turnaround time on projects and being able to work on fun little designs that fit well on the platform. I never really expected to get Angry Birds rich or anything, I would have been quite happy just to get by, but in the end mobile these days seems to be all-or-nothing, with most developers falling to the “nothing” side of the divide, and not much room for that middle ground I was looking for.

Anyway, I really ought to blog a bit more often, it has been ages. And we are doing some fun stuff, and there could be something else good happening too that I can’t say more about just now, but soon.

So hopefully I shall blog more soon :) .

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