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Android marketplace must "evolve to a place that's a little more sane"

Any successful storefront will have to support smaller developers, says PopCap

PopCap's head of studios Ed Allard has said that whilst his company is excited by the opportunities on the Android marketplace, the ecosystem needs to address some of its problems in order to become a better place to do business.

Speaking as part of a larger interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Allard spoke about the concerns expressed by IGDA over the terms and conditions imposed by the Amazon Android App Store, and how he felt that happy relationships between developers and Amazon would be crucial to its success.

"I absolutely understand. I understand," replied Allard when questioned Amazon's pricing policies.

[Amazon] need to be open and fair to the developers who are making great content

Ed Allard, PopCap

"My general approach on that, and I certainly don't represent the business side of the company that really approached that and signed that deal, is that... My view is that anyone who wants to be successful in the Android marketplace needs to solve some of the handset marketplace fragmentation problems. And they need to be open and fair to the developers who are making great content.

"If you look at what's been successful on the iPhone App Store, it's not just all the big boys that are being successful there - it's the small out of nowhere developers that have the massive hits. So wherever they're starting, I think any successful marketplace has to evolve to be supportive of, and not take advantage of, the little guy.

"So I certainly get the concern, and I hope to see the entire Android marketplace, whether it's Amazon or others, evolve to a place that's a little more sane and well-understood for developers to navigate."

IGDA's concerns were centred on Amazon's controls on offering exclusivity and pricing, especially their potentially devastating effects on small developers. However, the huge market share which Android represents, should those marketplace issues be addressed, is a welcome prospect, Allard continued.

"In general, PopCap is really excited about the Android platform. Despite the challenges that we discussed around navigating space, Android is going to be a great way to reach a lot of people with our games. That's what we do this for, so we're committed to figuring out how to be there in the right way for our games and our customers as the platform evolves.

"We're really excited about the Amazon marketplace opportunity. Ultimately, we're there because we think that it's going to be a great experience for customers, and a great way to find and buy games that they love that they can be sure will work on their devices."

Elsewhere in the interview, Allard spoke about the other main concern which the Android market presents: the disparity and fragmentation of devices which Google's adherence to an open-source platform has encouraged.

"One of the challenges which we see moving forward is that games are moving away from a world where you ship version one and then you walk away and you work on a different game. If you look at any successful game, be it our game or Angry Birds, the frequency of updates, with new versions, content and features going in, it's sort of ongoing relationship that you're building with your players through the game.

"So the fragmentation that exists, while the competition is great, if you think about trying to evolve the game over time in a world where you've got such disparate marketplaces and you've got different builds for different devices, or you've got builds for different platforms - even just managing or updating N-number of builds across all these carriers or marketplaces - the complications get in the way of this ongoing, evolving relationship between the game and the customer.

"That's the sort of thing that we're challenged with in terms of the fragmentation, is just making sure that we can evolve our games in a way that doesn't get too bogged down in the process of managing all the SKUs."

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Dan Pearson

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