Do programmers “loathe” developing mobile games for Android?

by: David GonzalesMarch 30, 2013

Android design
With Android accounting for the lion’s share of mobile device operating systems worldwide, you might think that developers are absolutely head over heels in love with it. But the truth tells a different story, at least according to the founder of one company that develops games for Google’s world-famous OS.

Speaking during a panel at this year’s Game Developers Conference, Geomerics founder and COO Chris Doran said that Android is not a great platform for development, especially when it comes to graphics. Apparently, Geomerics programmers find it simply loathsome, but continue to develop apps for it anyway. “We have to do it; it’s pretty dominant,” said Doran.

According to Doran, the reason why Android is just not good for graphics at all is because Google “doesn’t put enough love into it.” That’s why even though Android today stands as the most popular mobile device platform in the world, it’s still quite troublesome to develop apps for.

In all fairness, Google does have a dedicated design page up on its official Android Developers web site, where it says that the design of Android is focused around three overarching goals, which are Enchant Me, Simplify Me, and Make me amazing. The dedicated Android Developer design page explains what these overarching goals are all about in detail, and basically, what it says is that Google is not sacrificing function over form — and vice versa — for its mobile OS.

Chris Doran of Geomerics wasn’t the only one who shared his opinion on Android game development at this year’s GDC. In particular, Samsung’s technical marketing manager Michael Ludden said that Apple’s iOS was also in a similar situation in its early years of existence. But as the development tools improved, so did the overall development experience.

As Android grows older, it will likely mature in much the same way. And in case that doesn’t pan out, at least there are other mobile development platforms on the horizon. Plus, if acceptable design just can’t be found elsewhere, then there’s always the iPhone and iOS.

  • Benedict Tan

    As a mobile developer this is an unfair statement because building games for mobile touchscreens is ubiquitously shitty regardless of OS.

    • since you said regardless of OS, have you developed for iOS? If yes, what’s your honest opinion when it comes to developing for the platform?

      I really loved this australian weather app that was available for iOS. When he made the android and people ask why it isn’t as nice as the iOS version, he mentioned it’s because it’s not as easy to do in Android.

      • Moe

        it is understandable why it is harder to develop apps for android than ios. there a lot of android devices running different versions of android and have different hardware, on the other hand apple has a fewer devices(not how many apple has sold cuz that is a lot) so it is easier for developers to figure out what is wrong.

      • Testutama

        Speaking as a programmer, developing an application for android can actually be a lot easier in a lot of ways due to the flexibility and freedom offered by the platform. However when you hear about developers complaining about the difficulty of developing for Android it is often due to one of two reasons. First of all a lot of new developers are already familiar with IOS and then run into trouble when they try to directly port over their games to Android, rather than develop them natively. This is not something new to IOS & Android; it has been an issue that has been present since game developer first tried porting between various consoles and computer systems. The It is always a headache going from one environment to another, regardless of which direction it goes in.

        The second reason, which is a big one, is the sheer variation of android devices. While it is relatively easy to develop for one device, or one family of devices, trying to cover the whole Android ecosystem is a daunting task. The situation could be considerably improved by Google and the various chip manufacturers getting together to make clear standards and development tools. The PC situation improved considerably after the introduction of directX & openGL and the focus on just Nvidia / ATI chipsets. Android could really use the same sort of focus.

        • Kassim

          With the sheer amount of different vested interests in the manufacturing of devices though, it would take unprecedented efforts from everyone involved including manufacturers and consumers to push for more standardisation around the Android ecosystem.

          However, since it’s open source, just as many will object to having the freedom to do or create whatever they like taken away from them by having to follow set standards. So, as far Android getting much less complicated, I think it will never happen.

          But, at least Ubuntu is looking to be one of the few capable of this sort of undertaking so, I’m waiting with baited breath to see how well it succeeds in that regard. Here’s hoping…

          • Marvin Nakajima

            Either that or as Samsung’s Galaxy line gets even more prevalent, developers make it their primary target platform forcing HW makers to adopt some of Samsung’s design and giving rise to the Galaxy line as the unspoken standard.

          • Every galaxy mobile has different gpu and screen size , samsung uses all gpu like power vr in s4 , mali 400 in s3 , adreno in us version so how is galaxy standard possible.

          • Marvin Nakajima

            I guess i’m just saying that with the huge numbers of devices that Samsung puts out, not to mention a large chunk of them being one of Galaxy S2 or S3. If I was to target a single device for optimizing my software for it would lean towards those 2 devices. If enough developers lean the same way there may be a trend towards the UX being best on the Samsung Galaxy devices and result eventually in making a soft ‘standard’ that other manufacturers may follow to not fall behind.

          • Mike Reid

            Already happening.

            Samsung high end devices are my primary target platform, with HTC second. We app devs can see the stats for sales.

      • Benedict Tan

        Yes, I’ve developed for iOS. Honestly speaking; touchscreens are pretty incompetent when it comes to doing a lot of things one might want to do with a game. This is ultimately why all the games you find on phones are essentially mired in primitive 5minute mechanics because that’s all their good for. Immersion? Yeah good luck with that.

        I like my phone for a lot of reasons but games aren’t one of them. People play smartphone games because being there is more important than being good apparently.

        Also; itunes submission is retarded as all hell and apple doesn’t even know what “%” means.


      Most devs prefer Apple because there is no fragmentation.

      • Kassim

        Yes, there is – it’s just all relative and far, far, FAR less of a headache than on Android…

      • Benedict Tan

        No. Different processors, resolutions and memory, all of which are of concern because Once your app goes up on the store and your submission is wrong there are things you can’t change without resubmitting a new app entry.

  • Nyx

    To answer the question, I don’t loathe developing games for anything. However, I probably like developing for Android the least (desktop PC best).

  • Oh woe is me! I learned a proprietary programming language that caters to a shrinking percentage of consumers and now my boss says I have to grab my glove and get in the real game. This sucks! Boy do I miss the good old days when I could develop for a single screen size and resolution. Sure, it placed limitations on the end user, but who cares about those sheep? What about me? Now I have to put serious thought into what I do, not to mention all of the testing involved. All of that on top of learning one of those really hard serious programming languages that Android uses. I never wanted to be a serious programmer! Why can’t I just sit around and get paid to play with my iPhone like before? THIS SUCKS, I HATE ANDROID! What happens if someone wants me to use any of those fancy and confusing advanced features that only Android devices have? What’s NFC anyway? I wonder if my uncle still needs help at his car dealerships. Do dealerships have Genius Bars? That would be awesome! I am so over being a programmer.

  • Can’t be worse than j2me feature phone games development.

  • Dr. Chris Doran, Founder & COO, has a doctorate in Fag Much from the University of crack whore., his hobbies include inserting hamsters in hairy men’s anuses.