I’ve tried a couple times to unsuccessfully look at the Windows 8 market. First of all we’re a Mac shop, all our tools and hardware is Apple. However we do have parallels and a spare machine in the corner we don’t use which had some version of windows on it at one point. Since Windows 8 came out I’ve been keen to push some of our apps to their platforms, as doing cross-platform development is our thing, (that and augmented reality).
My first attempt was me trying to sign up for their developer program, their registration system is overly complex. Secondly their iOS migration guide was one of the most hilariously poorly written explanations to go for Windows over Mac. It actually explains why OSX / iOS are much better and easier to code for, it’s actually quite a humorous read. If you have way too much time on your hand, you can go through the extremely over verbose documentation to entice ios developers : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/jj945493.aspx
Later I gave a talk in Auckland at the New Zealand Game Developers Conference, and talked about cross platform development. During it I was asked if I did development for windows 8, I told them I tried but got stuck in the paperwork and gave up. I later talked with a rep from Microsoft who was genuinely a nice guy and was trying to ‘entice’ developers. I told him the basics, #1 explain why I have to pay for a development subscription, then pay for all the tools, operating systems, then do a profit share. On Apple you pay $99, get free copies of operating systems, and Xcode (plus all the handy tutorials, etc), and this fee is the same for a indie developer or a huge studio. This isn’t a turd flinging post, I’m just trying to understand (as it’s not clear on their site), why I have to pay for the program, then pay the hundreds of dollars for the pro tools as well as a new upgraded operating system. It’s all very costly. (Developing for windows 8 on the free tool doesn’t cut it, I need pro tools to do windows 8 / mobile dev, and in comparison there is no XCode ‘free’ and XCode ‘pro’, there’s just 1 fully featured XCode. Anyway, I told the guy, ‘you give me the tools, I’ll make you the apps’. That was the last I heard from Microsoft.
Fast forward to today, I was just having a think about publishing some of the new games we have, as well as some of the older ones to other platforms. As they’re all written in tools that technically run on them (just small tweaking needed), [cocos2d-x, unity3d], I wanted to see what it would take to sign up. You’d figure after the ‘rocky at best’ launch Windows 8 / app store has had, you’d think they’d entice developers more. But no, the website still has about 40 links on it each giving you a bunch of information which isn’t useful, and not clearly telling you what you do and don’t need to get started. They even have a $49 plan which allows you to not sell apps on the Windows store… Really useful, but from what I read neither give you the tools you actually need, so they expect you to pay your $49 or $99, then buy Windows 8 pro ($499 (Upgrade! can’t find the actual retail price!)), then buy Visual Studio Pro 2012-13 ($990). I think those figures are mainly in NZD, so we’re looking at a whopping $1600 (I saved and didn’t count the MSDN version) + costs for hardware (tablet to test, phone to test, actual windows 8 hardware to test). So in short, it looks like I will NOT be publishing anytime soon for Microsoft, I don’t have that in my budget. In comparison for $4000 I could get a license to publish for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, or a really nice brand new Mac to do more development + have enough for 2 ipod touches or a new iPhone, or a couple iPads.
So am I enticed to got o Windows? No not at all. I was intrigued, several times hence my return there today. But it’s simple math, they have no numbers to back anything up, it’ll take me time / hours to port things over, time and hours I could use on the platforms I’m already a master of, and make more new things, and update old things versus ‘test’ a new market. If I could lower that entry point to $99 with the software I need (once again, not the cheap free versions that doesn’t do what I expect from professional tools), then I’d be keen.
Below is my email I just sent to Microsoft support trying to understand their logic on the issue I’ve rambled on about above.
Hello, I was in Auckland a month ago and I gave a talk about cross platform development. One of your reps asked why I didn’t do Windows development, and I stated #1 price of entry #2 long drawn out registration #3 no transparency to the store. Anyway, I’m looking now and trying to understand what it’ll take for our company to publish on Windows. As I can see I need a developer account, then I’ll need visual studio professional, and windows 8, (and devices to test on). With Apple I pay $99 a year, and get Xcode and all the latest OS’s included in that fee, am I to understand that is not the case? I couldn’t find information as to if the tools and operating systems are included in the developer program fee. If they are not, what is the realistic expectation you have from independent developers, that we would actually drop thousands of dollars to write for your struggling mobile devices? I’m just trying to clarify the situation, as when I spoke to the representative he said MS was really trying to engage new developers to try the platform, which we’re happy to do, but not at that kind of cost. So if I am misreading, and all I need is the $99 for the developer subscription, and the software tools are all available to me, that’s great. (Not the ‘lite / free versions of your tools’ the actual pro versions we need to develop on, like we get with Apple / Google.
Thanks for taking the time to clarify this.
Six Foot Three Foot
P.S. In case you like to post comments, you may. But since 99.999% of all my comments are spam I’ll probably accidentally trash it when I clean my spam folder out every other week. This isn’t a blog post to start a flame war, this is just an explanation as to even though I was approached and reconsidered it, I can’t justify developing for Microsoft. I also don’t mean to say that one platform is superior to the other, it’s strictly that for direct competitors, I get X with Brand A, and Y with Brand B. If they are competing I’m just trying to understand why the price of entry is so extreme. But I’m sure there’s other developers out there who can afford it (time / patience / cost wise), and good luck to them all. Excited to hear their outcomes.