Blog 11 - Choosing Release Platforms
When we embarked on the path of games development here at Battenberg Software, we released for one platform and one platform alone: the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games. Our plan at the time was to do that forever, but forever actually turned out to be about 5 years before the platform began its slow decline which concluded in its eventual, inevitable death. This was announced in 2015 and took place in 2017.
This year (2019) we'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of our first Xbox 360 release (On A Roll). Although we can no longer sell Xbox 360 Games, On A Roll is now available on Steam, and we have titles on iOS and the Microsoft Store, including Xbox One. But when we're porting an old game to a new platform, or writing a completely new post-XBLIG game, how do we decide which platform(s) to release on? We don't always have a choice - for example Microsoft have a review process for releasing games on the Microsoft Store. Some only make it as far as a Windows Release (e.g. The Food Run) and some go all the way to Xbox One (On A Roll 3D). Where we do have a choice, we take into account the size and popularity of the game and its gameplay and mechanics among other things when deciding which platforms to release on.
Currently, we have games on:
Steam is our "go to" platform and often the first one we will release a game on - in fact all of our currently-available games are on Steam. The fact that the games run on PC, Mac and Linux covers all bases of game mechanics. Players can use keyboard, mouse or gamepad, local and network multiplayer is possible and Steam's Achievements, Leaderboards and Cloud Saves can all be integrated seamlessly.
iOS - iPad and iPhone
Currently we only have On A Roll 3D available for iOS, but we plan to expand this in future. This platform lends itself very much towards single player games, and although the on-screen controls we used for On A Roll 3D are possible, the touch screen nature of these devices favours more of a point-and-click-style interface. As with all phones, there is a physical size limitation too. If we were to bring Square Route to iOS in future it might have to be iPad-only as the gameplay grid would be too small on an iPhone screen.
Potential Future Releases
  • The Food Run on iOS.
  • Square Route on iOS (probably just iPad - the play area would be too small on a phone screen).
  • Square Route on Microsoft Store (depending on approval, and most likely for PC only given that the game is best played with a mouse).
Microsoft Store - PC, Windows Phone and Xbox One
When Microsoft launched their ID@Xbox program for indie developers in 2014, it was seen as the natural successor to Xbox Live Indie Games and presented an opportunity to not only release on the next generation Xbox console, but to make full use of Xbox Live features, including achievements and leaderboards. A review system was also introduced, however, meaning not every title made it onto the platform. In our case, The Food Run was approved for a PC and Windows Phone release, whereas On A Roll 3D was approved for these plus Xbox One. The size and quality of the game is obviously taken into account when this decision is made, and so too is how the game is controlled. On a console, a player only has a controller, so games that work better with a mouse for example are less likely to be approved for Xbox One.
Future Platforms
Because we develop in Unity, most cross-platform issues are taken care of so we have the option of expanding to additional platforms in the future. If we tried another platform it would probably be Android, but it takes time to set up a new platform and to subsequently keep a game updated on it. Given that we've spent the last couple of years expanding our platform base, our current plan is both release some more of our existing games on these platforms, and to create new games.