RetroDefense Developer: Android Now a Required Development Platform, No Question


In a feature published by the New York Times about the market ecosystem on Android, developers were asked to give their thoughts on the platform and why it wasn’t generating more cash than the app store. The article itself was about Android’s tremendous growth over the past year and why developers are starting to take it more seriously, but one developer didn’t take too kindly to their only quote being a negative one. Mark Hall – co-founder of Larva Labs – had this to say previously:

“It’s not the best impulse-buy environment,” said Matt Hall, co-founder of a developer outfit called Larva Labs that makes games for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices. “It’s hard to think of an application that you would sit there and put your credit card information in for.”

An old quote, he says, and things are much different since. In a post on the company’s blog, he aims to update his position on Android and has nothing but positives to dish out. Back in August 2009, the company’s two games on Android – RetroDefense and Battle for Mars – generated a combined $62.39 per day. Ouch, right? This is in comparison to the iPhone, which – at that time – saw developers getting $250,000 in sales in just two months.


But that was at a time where there were literally as many Android phones on the market as you have fingers on one hand. A lot’s changed since then, no? We’re at a point where new Android devices are being launched and announced every day, and the trend doesn’t look to be slowing down. User adoption has been just as big as recent numbers have Android showing 4-digit growth from just a year ago: right before the Droid was released. We all know what happened after Verizon adopted Android and went right after AT&T and Apple with arguably the most influential marketing campaign in Android’s history.

Being the smart developers they are, LarvaLabs predicted that Android wouldn’t remain unfruitful and kept their eyes on the prize when they could’ve been pushing all of their resources into the iPhone.

I should add that even though these numbers are pretty disappointing and currently don’t represent a viable business, we’re still excited about Android in the medium to long term. There’s been some talk from Google of improvements to the market, including more payment options, so that will definitely help.

We’re also going to see some big phone releases from Motorola among others, but the main issue just seems to be the market itself and it’s low purchase rate (19% vs. 50% on iPhone). I’m sure Android will be on a lot of phones at some point in the future, whether it’ll be possible to target it profitably as a small developer I’m not sure.

And then we fast forward to today. Matt Hall states they’re doing much better on Android, achieving “several multiples” of their previous numbers reported in August 2009. He states they’ll have a new report up soon to shed more light, but assures us that things have improved greatly and that Android is worth future investment.


Hall believes that not developing for Android at this point would be a grave mistake, saying:

Android is now unquestionably a required platform for new apps. Six months ago we got questions about whether Android was worth supporting, now that’s not in question.

While we can’t take that as law, it does match the trend we’re beginning to see. Just as phones were before, apps for Android were scarce. Notable releases only came about once in a while and everything just felt really slow. And just as phones are now, there’s no shortage of apps to be had as developers compete for mind share on a platform that’s still up for grabs on many major fronts (including gaming.)

It may take a while longer for apps from other high profile studios to make their way to Android as companies may have mis-calculated Android’s worth and growth. (Which is understandable: no one wanted to invest resources into what could have become another failed market. No offense to our webOS-owning friends, of course.)

As for LarvaLabs? They say to expect a lot more going forward, of course. We’ll be keeping our eyes glued on their new developments as we head into 2011, and we hope (and expect) other developers to treat this growing (but admittedly still flawed) ecosystem similarly going forward.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I own new iPod touch and a Nexus One and all I know is the Game on iOS are way better. Also devs on Android probably make less money because you can get a free version and also you can get a refund but on iOS there are no refunds so they keep the money. Now with saying that most apps I have paid for (games) are pretty good and I wouldn’t have asked for a refund. Don’t get me wrong I’m not giving up my Nexus any time soon unless its for the Nexus Two, Android FTW. I do think its hard for devs to make good games on Android because of so many different phones and if you make an iOS type game they will not work on something like the G1 so they try to find a middle ground where everyone can gets to play their games. If Google said from now on every phone will have to have no less than a snagdragon processor that would really really help Android get way better games. Now I don’t know about you guys but I do buy games and many other apps for Android, I bought Robo Defense months ago. Also not being able to have paid is hurting ALOT of sales of apps like Launcher Pro I had to pay through PayPal, I think getting paid apps in every country iOS has them should be a top priority.
    Rant Over in 3..2..1

  2. LMAO I meant to say Retro Defense but I also did by Robo Defense.

  3. Great rant. Good points.


  4. RetroDefense is one of the more popular paid games for the Android platform. They are probably making more that $60 a day now.

  5. Someone didn’t read the article.

  6. I can’t think of anyone I know who wants to be productive & successful in this day & age wasting time to play these idiotic mindless games.
    If I were a developer I’d be thinking of creating educational games: like learning music (notes,scales, intervals), or languages (Spanish is almost a required language to have in US if you want to be closet to the top of job applicants). That does require more skills than merely programming a shooting game, but as a result more people will be buying these apps (and parents buying Android phones & letting their kids spend $ on apps).

    and yet I know many kids who would like to learn to play guitar or be more proficient in Spanish but spend their precious time playing retarded Nintendo or Xbox crap.

    Right now I found only music teaching app for iJunk and none for Android, not to mention complete lack of training/fun apps in the language area.

    I mean I’ve played the hell out of my BlackJack trainer and every BlackJack game out there. Not only it’s fun, it’s good brain exercise for the brain, not to mention the extra cash.

  7. i think these guys with such low sales should implement the freemium model, Rovio did a great job by making Angry Birds free but with ads, im pretty sure they’re raising thousands of dollars per month and thats much better than the poor sales if they offered it for money on the market

  8. jdog. Snapdragon is terrible for gaming. Tegra 2 is the chip that will become the standard in 2011, and that chip is already getting new big name developers to make awesome games for Android. Yes, exclusively for Tegra 2, but I’m actually glad that is happening, because that will push for more Tegra 2 phones, too.

    For the most part it’s HTC’s fault we don’t have very good games in the Market right now. HTC was and still is considered the king of Android smartphones, and they’ve had a lot of impact on the platform – negatively as well.

    There are 2 main ways in which they’ve impacted the Android platform negatively:

    1. They put way too low internal storage to save on cost, and started promoting their SD card support and free SD cards instead, which did nothing to help game developers to create some very nice games that obviously would have big file sizes. They wanted to compete with iPhone and yet they left only 200 MB free space for apps in their phones. I think that’s unbelievable.

    2. They kept their partnership with Qualcomm too tight, and therefore they kept offering that patethic GPU Adreno 200 with their chips. Even the new one Adreno 205 is no match for the 4 months old Hummingbird’s GPU in Galaxy S.

    So yeah, of course game developers didn’t hurry into the market. Tegra 2 will manage to do what Snapdragon couldn’t and still can’t. It will bring some true 3D games to the Android platform, especially since developers can use the Unreal 3 engine to make games for it, so their job is much easier.

    I recommend no one buys another non-Tegra phone from now. If you want great games on Android, you’ll need to support Tegra 2 phones. Don’t worry, HTC will make Tegra 2 phones, too. They have no choice. They’ll definitely make a Tegra 2 tablet. I think they’ve already announced it. Tegra 2 is already in a few tablets in the market today, and we should start seeing them in phones as soon as January.

  9. @Lucian Armasu I forgot about Tegra 2 and your right that should a requirement. Also you make a very very good point about the memory because I just checked my iPod and I have 5gb of games! Not only do good games require a good processor they also need a lot of memory. Also every phone should have at least 16gb of memory for games and apps, and still have an sd card slot for music, pictures, movies.

  10. I can’t think of a shitier way to play a game than on a touchscreen phone.

  11. You are all so stupid. Developers restricting phones t one fucking chip set are lazy fools. STOP fuckin crying “waaaa snapdragon sucks waaa”. Fuck you, don’t blame the chip, blame the devs. The first few iphones didnt even come close t 1 ghz and they still got amazing 3d games on their week ass chipset. Why the hell should our gpu’s and cpu’s be 2387923% better than the iPhones just to get the same quality apps. Educate yourselves

  12. @Keller Shmeller Thanks for that its nice to hear from a real developer for once.

  13. @Lucian Armasu They already benchmarked Tegra 2 and it is slow in graphics. Even slower than Adreno 205.

  14. I’m willing to pay for games and apps, but to be honest I don’t look to my phone to play games. I want productivity applications.

    I want Mint for Canada. I’d like a Fund/portfolio app that includes Mutual & Segregated Funds.

    I prefer apps like Phone2PC & NBA Gamtime (Watch games on your phone via your NBA Leaguepass acc)

    Angry Birds is great and I was willing to pay for it, but they released it for free.

    They need to make more cross platform games where Android users can play iPhone, Nokia and WebOS users.

  15. @Lucian Armasu
    Tegra 2 perforance is pathetic: (Ref)
    Adreno 205 is better than SGX 540 (Hummingbird): (Ref)

    Got the facts? Now shut up!

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