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'Alto's Odyssey' developers tout economics and ease of development for Apple devices

The developers of "Alto's Odyssey" have skewed toward supporting Apple's iPhone and iPad for several reasons, above all ease of development, a new interview reveals.




"It's certainly a lot easier to develop for the iPhone, which now —there's five iPhones, let's say, out in the market, from iPhone 5s, to 6s, to 6 Pluses, to iPhone X, so it's a little trickier than it was back when the iPhone was only one size," Team Alto's Ryan Cash told Ars Technica. "But compared to Android, it's a lot simpler. The fact that most of Apple's customers are on the latest version of their software makes it a lot easier to make software for the platform."

Unlike "Alto's Adventure," "Odyssey" notably uses Apple's Metal graphics platform.

"The switch to Metal happened when we started focusing more deeply on performance," said Jason Medeiros. "We started profiling and noticed some strange OpenGL performance behavior which we wanted to remedy. We tried switching to Metal and those issues were resolved. That said, some of our custom shaders needed to be tweaked, but it wasn't a significant amount of work, and we were happy to do it!"

Apple is also said to have improved Team Alto's lot with the redesigned App Store in iOS 11.

"I think there's been a conscious effort in the revisions that have been made to the App Store in iOS 11 that have put renewed focus on telling the stories of individual developers," commented another developer, Eli Cymet. Cash explained that developers can now submit marketing material for the App Store's "Today" tab, and that Apple is actively soliciting it.

"Odyssey" is currently available on iOS and the Apple TV, but not yet Android, even though "Adventure" is already there. The likely reason is revenue, since Cash observed that revenue returns on "premium" content tend to be low on Android. Whereas "Odyssey" and "Adventure" are one-time purchases on iOS, the Android version of "Adventure" has microtransactions.

"The reason behind us trying free-to-play on Android was primarily because we had heard from so many indie game developers who had made premium content for iOS that, on Android, they were seeing anywhere from as low as two percent to at the very, very, very best, 30 percent. I think I heard one person say 50 percent. But for the most part, it seems to be between five and 15 percent revenue on Android compared to iOS," said Cash.