Mobile Mavens

Indie Mavens discuss the difficulties of supporting iOS games

A Sisyphean task

Indie Mavens discuss the difficulties of supporting iOS games

The arrival of iOS 9 unexpectedly saw the departure of a number of big name games from the App Store and peoples' purchase histories. Telltale removed most of its games, 2K Games took BioShock away, and Capcom stole Ghost Trick: Phatom Detective, and there were a couple of others too.

The reason for these companies doing this was due to iOS 9 breaking the games. They were then temporarily taken down to stop more people buying a game they wouldn't be able to play. Once fixed, these games were restored.

Once the drama was over a question did linger. And it's one that we decided to ask our Indie Mavens.

"Given Apple's frequent iOS updates, and the fact that even big companies are struggling to keep up, do you feel that supporting iOS games has become too much work?"

"How does this compare with supporting games on other platforms such as Google Play and Steam?"


Tanya X. Short Creative Director Kitfox Games

It is SO much easier to support games on Steam.

For a small team like Kitfox, knowing that Steam won't make our game unplayable is very comforting.

Jon Ingold Creative Director Inkle Studios

Jon's focus is on content, working from the initial outline, through the development of the authoring tools, to the writing and scripting of final content.

Previously, Jon was a lead designer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and before that a secondary school teacher, so he loves to talk. He's a published author of short stories and over a decade's worth of award-winning interactive fiction.


It's difficult not to find Apple's constant iOS format-changes somewhat frustrating, though in most cases the upgrade process is reasonably straight-forward.

The platform isn't built for legacy apps to survive.
Jon Ingold

Equally frustrating is the need to purchase new hardware every cycle: this time around we had an issue on the 6S which didn't manifest in the simulator, which we discovered via customer feedback.

The cold fact is the platform isn't built for legacy apps to survive: either an app is a service, and hence constantly maintained, or else mothballing is encouraged so that the App Store is constantly fresh and cutting-edge.

So, it's a problem of scale. How many apps do you have? But I'd take that problem any day over the hardware proliferation of Google Play - our Android builds are in a permanent state of upgrade-fix as new, different, oddly spec'd devices appear.

Vadim Starygin Founder Elite Games

Supporting apps for Apple is most time-consuming.

On top of regular updates, this circus with provision files that you're required to update every year is boring and making no sense.

Justin Smith Developer Justin Smith

My games are my children. I would feel awful not to keep them clean and healthy.

Updating only takes me a days work at most. I guess I'm lucky to have such simple games, and smart to use old reliable technology.

It is pretty ridiculous how many different sizes of icons and screenshots you need these days though.

Shawn Allen Founder Nuchallenger

My first independent game (which is a free game) got pulled from the App Store and because the guy who put it up has been busy as heck for a while, I don't know if it will ever return.

Shouldn't better hardware not just break our games?

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

Properly developed games that do not use hardcoding and adapt automatically to different screen sizes shouldn't require much of support when a new iOS comes.

Thus supporting your game usually looks like making a new package and updating third party SDKs that isn't that much time consuming really.

But, of course, it requires time, especially if you are a small team and have a lot of games.

Vanessa Gratton Designer Yakuto

We're a small team but we only have one game on the App Store. That means it's relatively easy for us to work around new iOS updates.

So far we've yet to experience any updates which have broken the game in any significant way. Maybe our opinion will change if that ever happens!

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.