In the last few months, some have been arguing that Android is just not worth it as a supported platform because of the stream of inbound support requests and device specific problems.  But those of us on Moai team have also be hearing strong evidence to the contrary from our friends in the industry - one game studio with a higher ARPU on Android than iOS, several that are seeing outstanding monetization on Kindle Fire, and another that pursued an agressive cross platform strategy, weeded out many platforms that weren't worth the effort, and kept Android as a must-support platform.

Todd recently took the debate a step further by sharing the Zipline Games Studio perspective from supporting Wolf Toss on 500+ devices (Android 2.2 and above), and expressing a strong opinion about the importance of QA.  Here are the best bits of his post on TheNextWeb:

"In January, Wolf Toss was featured on Android Market, and shot up to a million users in a week, with over five hundred different Android device types. Yes, there were lots of users complaining of bugs and resolution issues, but it didn’t stop our average review exceeding four stars.

The team and I spent long evenings and every weekend testing on each Android device we identified as having an issue... Guess what we found after weeks of testing? Yes, there were device differences but most of our problems were rooted in classic software engineering issues. We did see some crashes on specific devices, but the catalysts were devices that have less memory or run more processes which were causing the underlying issues to be exposed more often.

The actual root causes of our crashes were our own decisions – specifically, a stack corruption issue and a thread locking issue which took us some long nights to track down.  We rolled those fixes back into our Moai platform, and added real-time crash reporting from Crittercism as well. Today our crash rate on Android is well under 1% of players and very close to iOS."

Todd also advises developers to rule out some devices to make the compatibility list more tractable:

"...we set the bar at Android 2.2 devices with an arm7 CPU plus a minimum screen resolution of 320 x 480, which covers most Android phones designed in the last two years. Users who don’t meet that bar are screened from seeing Wolf Toss in the Android Market."

"If you take the time to test properly on Android, and target a capable set of devices, then the main fragmentation problem you have to solve is different resolutions and aspect ratios. It’s a little more work than the four different displays that you now see on iOS devices, but well worth it."

All, in all - we've seen first hand in the Zipline Studio that a small dev team can make use of modern tools and developer reporting services to fully support Android devices and methodically drive down crash and bug rates to provide a great experience for 99.5% of players.  With the instant app store updates and great player upgrade rate that Android provides, it only takes a few weeks of work, and if you have good code re-use practices, this compatibilty and game-engine hardening work is work you get to re-use for your future titles.

- Mike.