Shipping Zombie Minesweeper for Android has been an adventure!
But like all adventures, there are bound to be obstacles. Unfortunately, a major obstacle has hit us right out of the gate: Device compatibility.
One of the great things about the Android ecosystem is all the different devices our game can run on; one of the bad things is all the different devices our device has to run on. Google provides tools which prevent customers from purchasing an app if it isn't going to work on their device. This is great, and protects everyone from heartache.
However, the actual mechanism for determining this compatibility is a bit, well, opaque.
Any app can list various hardware and software requirements, such as:
- Needs a camera
- Only supports high-resolution screens
- Accesses the SD card
- Uses features from Android 2.3 and higher
The Play Store then takes this list and filters out devices which don't meet those requirements.
All good so far. But now, having launched the game, we're getting support emails from people saying they can't install the game on devices we know it runs on. What's happening here? I check out my developer tools to investigate:
Apparently Zombie Minesweeper is compatible with about half the S III's out there. A quick peek on Wikipedia shows that there are two major variants of this phone... But what's the difference, actually?
Zombie Minesweeper's requirements are pretty simple: It requires a touchscreen (of any size), a 3D chip, and an internet connection for twitter integration. Surely all these phones fit that profile! But there's some subtle thing that Google is detecting that we're not aware of.
So now I'm looking into how we can determine exactly what the requirements of the game are (or what Google Play thinks they are) and broadening that as much as possible.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line, however, is that compatibility is a tricky issue, and because we are using an off-the-shelf game engine (Unity3D), we don't have a lot of control of the basic requirements of the game beyond what we've already released. We will definitely be working to improve the situation, but for a pair of part-time independent developers like ourselves, our options are quite limited by the resources that companies like Google and Unity make available to us.
If your Android device isn't showing as supported by Google Play, we apologize and sincerely hope that we can get the game into your hands in the future! But for the time being, we can't make any promises or estimates as to when that might be.
- Graham Jans