Fieldrunners 2 Makes its App Store Debut Without iPad Support – Why?

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.

About Juli: Contact me via Twitter: @julipuli

  • Gregory Gray

    Agree with this article.
    Subatomic Studios seems out of touch. I’m a huge Tower Defense fan and I never bought the first version of this game and the second will be a pass as well if they don’t get more in line with the marketplace. It is not like Field Runners is some premium game with a ton of content. It is a Tower Defense game with nice graphics and is one of many. I’m also not the biggest fan of open path Tower Defense but I see from the screen shots that this iteration may have some path based levels. At $7.99 and not even being universal this will be a pass for me unless there is a sale. Looking at the history of the first title I’m not holding my breath…

  • surfin4hot

    It was a bit off for Subatomic Studios specially to those who own iPad2 as they cannot buy the game (unlike iphone owners who are hyped with it). I was able to download Fieldrunners 2 on my iPod touch and I find it completely different and at the same time challenging when it comes to its gameplay.

    Needless to say, Subatomic Studios might just be controlling the controlable… getting all feedback from gamers with regard to the game then fixing whatever needs to be done right after.

  • Uniquename

    I agree with this article! I am sickened by companies that then charge more than 2x the value for the Ipad version. I love the fact that I support good game studios, and they provide hours of entertainment. “We wanted to focus on Ipad only features” sounds great- release them both at the same time. Jerks.

  • James Glidewell

    Yeah, when I saw this was not Universal, I immediately came to the conclusion that wanted everyone to pay twice for FR2, just like they had done for the original. In my case, I never did buy FR for the iPad, despite really liking the game. And it looks like I will buy neither version of FR2.

  • Graysola

    I’m mad when I saw it come out for the iPod and iPhone I look on my IPad wasnt there if anyone know when it comes out plz tell me or I mite get the cheaper iPhone verson?