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Cross-platform Games: Everything You Need To Know

by Lisa Hayden
Cross-platform Games

What Should Developers Pay Special Attention To When Planning To Develop A Cross-platform Game?

A few years ago, cross-platform development meant creating content for personal computers (PCs), game consoles, and maybe a Mac. Now cross-platform primarily means the availability of the application not only on the PC but also on mobile devices with different operating systems.

Today, the main development direction is games for smartphones, tablets, and web games, which are available for download in app stores and browsers. It is also worth noting that the installation should be as short as possible because the longer it takes to install an application, the less desire the end consumer has to use it, which can significantly hinder sales.

What Should Be Avoided?

HTML5 will require you to know JavaScript, which is a rather complex language. You will have to do a code review and resort to additional game testing services

What Do Developers Need To Know About The Consumers Of Each Platform?

Google Stadia

The first thing to look at is the ability to pay for each platform.

Some studios limit themselves to creating products (games, apps) only for a specific mobile operating system, such as iOS. We think that developing only for mobile platforms is very risky because attracting customers to your application for gadgets is about five times more expensive compared to other platforms. So the program has to make at least five times as much money to be considered a successful company product.

Other platforms, such as Facebook, provide an easier way for developers to engage customers virally, although it takes a lot of work to create a successful viral advertising campaign. It's also very important that your customers invite their friends to the app, so you need to know how to achieve that.

What Should Be The Controls In The Game?

With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, interacting with the screen through touch has become the most popular. Consequently, visual design requirements have changed because you no longer need a mouse to do anything. Now it is more common to create interfaces with large buttons and controls to control what is happening on the screen with our fingers.

Developing only for mobile platforms is very risky because attracting customers to your application for gadgets is about five times more expensive than other platforms.

As for tablets, the design of controls is the highest priority - it is necessary to think about the comfortable positioning of the user's hands. So if you see a game where you need both index fingers to control it, this is a terrible design because this is almost impossible with a tablet.

Controls must be accessible either with one hand or with the thumbs of both hands. And be sure to consider the finger span when designing the control interface.

What Tools Do You Need To Do Cross-platform Development?

First of all, you should decide which platforms you are going to develop. If the web is not included in this list, you can safely use C++ when developing for PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. There may be some problems with Android because applications for it must be written in Java, but you can still write code in C++ using JNI (Java Native).

Unity is a good choice if you are not focusing on the web. It develops in C# and targets PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. Unity also allows development for the web, but it is not a good choice. The user has to install a special plugin for Unity - today this technology is very old and slowly disappearing, and it was replaced by OpenGL and various JavaScript solutions. 

If you're developing for the web, use HTML5 or Flash. Both are pretty popular, although HTML5 seems to be used more often by developers. HTML5 is commonly used to develop web interfaces on PCs and Macs, but it can also be used to create applications for mobile devices through the PhoneGap app. Games written in HTML5 turn out to be less graphically elaborate and less responsive, so it's hard to compete with such products. 

Another web programming technology is Flash, which, surprisingly, is still used by developers. Many developers mistakenly believe that Flash has no future because Apple does not support it. However, the work of Flash on iOS is problematic only in the browser, and, for example, through the application Air, all works fine. Thus Flash, together with the Air app, is a good platform for cross-platform development.

Those who don't like using Flash in their products can use the Haxe programming language combined with the OpenFL toolkit. This option allows you to export code from Haxe to HTML5 and iOS and Android applications. Thus HTML5 allows to create great things for the web but loses out in developing products for mobile systems.

Python For Gaming

Which Programming Languages Are Best Suited For Cross-platform Development?

If there are no problems with financing, C++ is the best choice. This way, you get maximum performance on all platforms, including mobile systems. However, the cost of such development will be much higher because it is more difficult to work with C++ than with many modern languages.

Also, suppose you develop a custom product for each platform. In that case, you need more custom (in-house) code, and this is radically different from the approach where a developer simply transfers code from one platform to another.

If your budget is limited, however, you can use C# (via Unity) or ActionScript (via Flash or Air): both of these would be great options - they are top-notch programming languages and are supported by a large number of companies. Embedded memory makes development easier, but there are still problems with this, especially on mobile platforms.

What Are The Main Advantages Of Creating Cross-platform Games?

If you have good cross-platform solutions, this approach will allow you to reach a wider audience by spending about the same amount of money as is usually spent on developing products for one platform. Besides, if somebody suddenly recommends your game to his friends and they can play it on any platform, the probability of viral audience growth will increase. Cross-platform allows users to gather in communities regardless of the device they use 

What Is The Most Serious Problem, And How To Avoid It?

When developing any product, a quality problem can arise. It can be caused not by the developers’ inexperience or something like that but by some platform problems. For example, in one of our games, we realized that we would not be able to create the same rich inner world of our casino on mobile devices, so we decided that it would be more appropriate to create an entirely different separate product for gadgets.

The other major problem is Apple's authorization. The process is very slow - about a week or so. For those who release updates regularly, like every two weeks, this is especially important. The ability for players from different platforms to play together must be maintained.

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