Apple May Have Lost the Mobile Game Business

Apple has admitted that it does not make money with App Store. They make money with the number of devices sold. So the whole purpose of App Store is to sell as many iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads as possible.

It’s in Apple’s best interest that there are as many good games as possible in the App Store. The mobile gaming industry is still growing strong. Apple has the chance to become the biggest player in the market with App Store, but they need game developers’ support.

Writing games only in C, C++ or Objective-C is, of course, doable, but without the possibility to use scripting languages, it’s not the most convenient way to develop games. Scripting languages are the heart and soul of games these days. The speed of development increases, when the game can be scripted. Frameworks, like Unity3D, are a big reason why there are so many games available in App Store.

Games don’t need support for multitasking from the OS. Games don’t run in the background. Games are always multi-platform; they don’t rely on native UI components. Most game code is game logic, or graphics.

All the reasons that people have given for Apple’s decision to limit programming languages do not affect games. Apple just made developing games a lot harder for iPhone. With the limitations, game developers have to decide, if they want to write games exclusively for App Store. It’s, of course, possible to use the same code base, written for example in C, with other platforms, but it will be a lot harder to develop games that way.

Apple was in a good position to challenge Nintendo as the leader in mobile gaming business, but now that might not happen with Apple’s decision to piss of game developers. We just have to hope that Nokia doesn’t make another pathetic attempt to enter mobile games like it did with the Nokia N-Gage. It will also be interesting to see, if Android starts to gather some momentum in mobile games.

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RIP Lua Programming on iPhone

It’s over. Steve killed you. We had a good run, but it came to an end sooner than I expected. I was always worried that something like this might happen, but it was still a surprise.

We knew each other only for a couple of months. Those months were the best time of my life. I will always remember the fun we had. I can still remember asking you to create a complete table including the data model with just one line of Lua code. You did all the hard work for me. I never knew what was happening behind the scenes. I bet your autopsy will reveal thousands of lines of ugly Objective-C code, but I don’t care. I will always remember you and your clean and nice Lua interface.

I remember when we did the multi-player code. You just said that I should give you the function that will be called on the other iPhone. It worked beautifully. I could just run code over the network as I did locally. I suspected that you did something against the rules, but I was ignorant and trusted you. The autopsy will probably show me the nasty details how you implemented this.

We also had fun, when we tried to hide you from Steve. We obfuscated the Lua scripts and put them inside the binary. Now, even that wouldn’t do the trick anymore, because running strings command on the binary, reveals that Lua library is inside the binary. I don’t know, if Steve’s minions would actually do this, but I am not going to risk it.

You showed me your true powers with closures and metatables. I was amazed, how you could do so many amazing things, when you seemed so simple. I felt that I was cheating, because programming with you was too easy. Most people think that programming for mobile devices is supposed to be hard, but you proved them wrong in your short visit on this planet.

We had our problems also. Remember, when I tried to use timers that were released. I would use pointers after you thought no one was using them, and cause you a lot problems. We talked about fixing this problem in your next version, but we didn’t even get to start working on that; your end was so sudden.

I hear there’s a new kid in town called Android. From what I understood, he doesn’t kill stuff like Steve. I hope I can resurrect you with Android. It might be dangerous, but I have to try it. I grew so fond of you that I cannot see myself coding in Objective-C or Java. They are just too verbose. You were so simple and elegant, but I guess Steve didn’t like the competition advantage you provided for people like me.

I will always remember you and keep a copy of you in my version control close to my heart. I will leave everything the way it is now. If I try to resurrect you with a new device, I promise I will use Git this time. I will let you have your peace in SVN.

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