In an era where the iPad has made its way into millions of homes, most developers have begun releasing games that are universal – intended for both the iPad and the iPhone.
Developers who don’t release universal games are quick to receive complaints from fans, who are loathe to pay twice to play the same game on different devices. That’s why it was such a surprise to many when Subatomic Studios released the followup to its popular Fieldrunners game exclusively on the iPhone.
Fieldrunners was one of the original tower defense games in the App Store, and it helped to set the stage for the entire genre, which has since become one of the most popular genres in the App Store.
So why did Subatomic Studios decide to forgo the iPad for this ultra important sequel?
According to Alec Shobin, Marketing and PR Manager for Subatomic Studios, developers opted create each game separately in order to ensure a high quality playing experience on all devices.
When one person on the Subatomic Studios forums asked about an iPad version of the game, Shobin had this to say:
“We’re focusing on iPhone first because we want to make sure the iPad version is totally customized for the device (and the new retina screen). The thinking is that the iPad version will launch about a month after the iPhone version.”
Of course, while Subatomic Studios could work on the iPad version of Fieldrunners 2 after the release of the iPhone version and then release it as a universal update, that is not the plan.
The iPhone version and the iPad version will be separate games, much like the original Fieldrunners game. And if we’re going by pricing on the original, which runs $2.99 for the iPhone and $7.99 for the iPad, Fieldrunners 2 will be significantly more expensive on our tablets.
Shobin does not deny that money is a significant factor in the decision to keep the games separate. “If we want to keep making ultra polished games like Fieldrunners 2,” he writes, “we need to charge a premium for those games.”
Most people seeking a universal version aren’t concerned about the price. After all, some games release an iPhone version alongside a more expensive universal version, because the idea is that folks want to play the game on two or more devices with iCloud saves, something only possible with universal apps.
Shobin goes on to explain that a universal version of the game is not possible due to the hardware limitations of the iPhone 3GS vs. the original iPad. The hardware of the 3GS is not up to snuff, which would limit the gameplay experience for tablet users.
To be honest, this excuse still doesn’t add up. An iPhone only version could support the 3GS while an additional universal version could support newer devices, making all parties happy.
So why isn’t that the route that Subatomic Studios is taking? The lack of a simultaneous iPad release, at the very least, seems to indicate that this is one developer that’s simply out of touch with what gamers want. Subatomics Studios appears to be underestimating the popularity of Apple’s most popular tablet, and undervaluing the importance of iCloud support, which we, as gamers, have come to expect from popular releases.
Are you a Fieldrunners fan? Are you disappointed that the company didn’t go with a simultaneous release or a universal version? Will this prevent you from purchasing the game?
We’re curious how gamers feel about developers who charge separately for the same iPhone and iPad games, so share your opinion with us in the comments.