Both the iOS App Store and Google Play have made strides in recent years regarding visibility and supporting Indies developers.
iOS 11 has boasted some impressive numbers concerning boosting downloads for developers since its launch last year.
As previously reported, games featured as the iOS App Store Game of the Day can see leaps of 802 per cent in downloads while those in the Games Tab can see up to a 450 per cent increase.
Google Play has also committed to its gang of Indies with an Indie Corner specifically designed to signal boost games.
Difficulties can still be prevalent, however. Following recent algorithm changes, Google Play is currently in the midst of tackling a bug that has led to indie developers being hit with a drastic drop in installs.
To garner a better lay of the land, we reached out to our indie mavens to find out which marketplace they felt was better for indies and what changes they would like to see.
App Store versus Google Play
For Strange Flavour CEO Aaron Fothergill the iOS App Store won out as a preferred marketplace, although barely. Following some experience with both Fothergill found that Google Play was particularly suited to free-to-play titles.
“So from our point of view, if you’re doing paid apps (which is the more sensible approach for a small indie in my opinion) then the App Store works better,” says Fothergill.
“Having said that, if you are doing free-to-play, then there’s no real difference between them for an indie in that both are very easy to develop for and get a game released.”
For Perchang co-founder Ben Murch the iOS App Store also wins out but for different reasons. While Google Play is easier to publish games on, a knock-on effect is overcrowding of the market.
“The Google Play store is historically easier for publishing games, so it’s also overcrowded by very small or one-man made games with cheaply bought assets from Unity’s Asset Store, which will copy your games,” says Murch.
“The App Store is far from being perfect, and indie developers are not their main concern, but at least you'll have better chances of success if your game is really original and good.”
The Google Play store is historically easier for publishing games, so it’s also overcrowded by very small or one-person made games with cheaply bought assets.Ben Murch
The topic of cloning and copying games has been prevalent for a while in the indie scene. Casual games publisher Voodoo recently came under fire from indie dev Ben Esposito after he found Hole.io to be a touch too similar to Donut Country.
According to Esposito, Voodoo copied Donut County’s gameplay premise, which centres on a hole in the ground that grows larger as it swallows more items.
Room for improvement
Regarding improvements, Fothergill believes that visibility needs to be clearer on iOS. While Apple does have an Indie section on the iOS App Store Fothergill thinks that it has not been regularly updated enough.
“Improving visibility by allowing developers to promote their apps on other platforms or in other apps would be a major benefit,” says Fothergill.
“I know Apple likes the idea of the App Store being a managed boutique where their experts pick what apps they want to display to the customers, so the quality they experience is very high. The problem is, though, that it pretty much narrows it down to a particular set of customers and excludes all sorts of users that might want something else.
“If Apple relaxed the old ban on store apps that review and list apps and link to them on the App Store that would open up a whole set of potential storefronts that could specialise in indie games and feature them, which could pull in a lot more indie gamers.”
Another bugbear Fothergill points to is that, unlike Google Play, the App Store is only accessible on iOS, after it was dropped from iTunes.
Since they dropped the App Store from iTunes on desktop there’s no way to link to an app outside of the iOS environment.Aaron Fothergill
“Since they dropped the App Store from iTunes on desktop there’s no way to link to an app outside of the iOS environment,” says Fothergill.
“So if someone comes across a link or review of your app on a Mac, PC or non-iOS device there’s no way for them to click on it and have a look at its store page (let alone buy it for downloading on your phone later). So having a web version of the App Store like Google Play has would be a major help there.”
In terms of additions, Fothergill also thinks a random game or app feature would work quite well with some moderation.
It’s also something that Murch would like to see implemented.
“Aaron's idea about random games section would be interesting,” says Murch
“Picking every day few nice rated games totally randomly would be something great to give a chance to unknown games.”