Games Come to iOS First and I Don’t Care

The big news in mobile gaming yesterday was that Threes!, a popular title in the iTunes App Store, was now also available on Google Play. I’d already heard about the game on The Verge Mobile Show, so expectations were high. And this casual gamer was not disappointed; I installed Threes! mid-afternoon, and by dinnertime both my girlfriend and I were hooked.

It’s yet another example of Android playing second fiddle to gaming on iOS. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, necessarily.

Here are three other notable games released on iOS first, then ported to Android:

Temple Run

Temple Run

iOS Release: 08-04-11
Android Release: 03-27-12

I might be mistaken, but I believe it was the first version of Temple Run that established Android as a mobile gaming platform worth developing for. According to Wikipedia it was downloaded over a million times from the Play Store in its first three days of release.

Temple Run‘s release on Android more or less coincided with Android overtaking Apple in market share, at least in this part of the world. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird

iOS Release: 05-24-13
Android Release: ??

I would love nothing more than to prove that Flappy Bird became a worldwide gaming phenom only after its Android release; unfortunately the facts required to do so are lacking. According to the Play Store the game was last updated on January 30th, 2014—but I’ve no idea how many versions there were prior to that.

I thought of scrolling through Play Store reviews (or Google+ posts) to find the oldest mention of the game, but there’s just too much to sift through. If anyone can find me a link citing the date of Flappy Bird‘s Android release, I’d be much obliged.



iOS Release: 02-06-14
Android Release: 03-12-14

In the case of my current gaming addiction I’ll just say that all the iPhone users crowing about Threes! made it that much easier to pull the trigger once it came to Android. We’ve all heard about how hard it is to get Android users to pay for apps, so this is significant.

I might got a bit further and call it a rather savvy marketing strategy:

  1. Release on iOS first, where users don’t mind paying;
  2. Profit!
  3. If and when the buzz reaches fever pitch, release a paid version to a thrilled audience of Android users;
  4. Profit some more!

So yeah, that game developers release for iOS first doesn’t bother me one bit. As the cases above clearly demonstrate, the Android user base has proven itself as a valuable market. And I don’t doubt the existence of worthy Android-first gaming titles out there, either; let me think about that for another post…