Which Platform Should I Make Games For?
Today, we’re going to talk about which platform should you make games for. We’re going to talk about specific platforms. We’re going to go into some simple concepts about each one. Which one you should choose. This comes as a request from one of our fellow recruits in Game Dev Underground and he wanted me to talk about how to choose which platform to develop for.
I think there are 3 primary things to consider. At least these are the questions that I asked myself. I’m sure there’s plenty of data and all kinds of other stuff you want to be super analytical on which platform is actually the best.
I make HTML 5 games, that’s my favorite technology. That means that by nature I can make games for any platform I want. So which platform to choose is actually a pretty relevant question for me.
My process is like this. First, I look at the type of game that I want to make. Not all games work well on all platforms. For example, shooters work really well on PC, runners work really well on mobile, and console games work really well on mobile. You have to look at the type of game you want to make and look at the platform that you’re using because the input device is really important in how you control the game.
I really like to play platformers on console because I prefer play them with a controller, but they’re just as fine on PC. I don’t really see a difference with specific game types. You have to look at the game you want to make and look at not only what kind of input device your platform has—because touchscreen is obviously a very different input device than a controller.
You also look at your target market. A lot of people don’t realize that the average age of PC gamers is 38, and that majority of mobile gamers are women. Many don’t realize these specific demographics and sometimes the type of game that you’re making needs to be tailored to a specific platform because it’s made for a specific type of person.
You have to do research. You have to lookup specific platforms. For example, if you know you’re making a puzzle game and you know the game is primarily going to appeal to women, I would look at actual demographics and actual statistics for this specific platform and then then make a choice off of that. I think that the type of game is the first thing taken into account. The second is the ease of accessibility. What I mean by that is, sometimes it may be better to make a console game for Xbox or Playstation. Both of them have indie development programs, but their programs are a pain in the ass. They’re complicated and it’s also hard to get your game published.
Whereas if you want to make a super simple PC game like Steam Direct, you don’t have to go through all the bullshit with Steam Greenlight and you can just pay your hundred bucks and get up there. I’m assuming that you have a decent game and all that. It’s important to have easy accessibility because as developers, as independent developers, as sometimes solo developers, you don’t have all that time and all that crazy effort to worry about all these little details.
When I was making mobile games, all of my mobile games on Android would work just as well on iOS, but iOS is such a pain in the ass to develop for. And since a lot of my games were free, I didn’t even want to publish on iOS and go through all the pain in the ass process of them cancelling or reject it or tell me to change 10,000 things, whatever.
It depends on what’s important for you. The type of game is important. Easy accessibility is important. First thing you have to take into consideration is: Do you really even need to make a choice? A lot of engines these days are multi-platform. They allow you to export to all these different platforms. I create all my games on HTML 5 by default so I don’t really have to make a choice on which platform I should choose. I can export to browser, to desktop, to Android, iOS… I can even go on consoles if I wanted to. I think the question you should be asking yourself isn’t necessarily which platform you want to develop for, its which platform do you want develop for first.
That’s a more important question, especially in the multi-platform realm because after developing for a specific platform first, you can gauge the response, you can see if the game works, you can try out your marketing. If the game starts to gain traction, then porting out to these different platforms is relatively easy. It’s worthwhile to do this not only from a game development perspective, but from a marketing perspective. You can do press releases and events, and use those as excuses to reach out to your email list. Each one of these platforms is an excuse to blast out your marketing message again and get in front of people’s eyeballs again. You really need to ask yourself if you even need to choose. Sometimes just making whatever’s easier is the best route.
That’s what I would say regarding the matter. Figure out the type of game, figure out the ease of accessibility for you to actually develop on, and then figure out if you really need to choose. I personally recommend developing on whatever’s easiest for you. For me that happens to be Browser and Android—- those are just really easy platforms for me to develop on. They don’t have any rules and they’re not strict. I can control everything I want to do. Developing on those platforms is simple, straightforward, and enables me to get my game out there quickly. If things work out, then I can expand on other platforms easily.
My approach to games is a little different than other people’s. I like to rapid prototype, I like to make games quickly, and see what works. If something works, I iterate on it, and build on it. Ease of accessibility is important to me for whichever platform I choose. If you look at those three things, you really can’t go wrong.
Most of the time, developing on PC is easier because you usually develop on a PC. So by default, most games will work if you develop them on a PC. Keep in mind that you can use multi-platform engines. There isn’t any benefit to going native, like going Android native or iOS native, outside of a speed increase.
The only reason you really need a speed increase is if you’re trying to do something crazy unique that engines just can’t handle, which rarely happens. You can always iterate towards speed increase. For example, David, the developer of Color Switch, started with Build Box, which was a really cool little prototype. He built the game in the HTML 5 platform and from there he wrote it natively because he needed a speed increase. He wanted to build the game better; he had all these little pieces. By then he already had success and so he had the demand for it.
In this case, it made sense to develop. You don’t have to start there. You could start with something that goes everywhere. And sometimes you don’t even need to change that. There are plenty of games that don’t need to change their coding at all. The technology is so good these days you really don’t need to choose. I would say PC is probably always easiest by default. But you have to keep in mind the type of game you’re making, the ease of accessibility, and then figuring out if you really you need to make a choice.
I would go with whatever is easiest, and then expand out. I don’t think that the type of game is going to matter. If you try and do a shitty Flappy Bird clone on PC, it’s probably not going to go over very well. Don’t make decisions based on demographics, not at first at least because I think you can always change platforms. You can always expand. You can always go multi-platform after you’ve quit single platform. It’s something that comes down to preference, and type of game.
So I hope that helps. If it did, please leave a comment below. Love hear from you guys. And tell me what your favorite platform is because I’m curious to know what you guys like to develop for.