iD Software's John Carmack: iOS vs. Android

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I just stumbled on this great ArsTechnica interview with the mighty John Carmack, the brain behind genre-defining games such as Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake and most recently, Rage HD for iOS. Carmack chimes in on the iOS vs. Android debate, from a triple-A title developer's standpoint.

Rage has been available in the App Store for a few weeks and selling like hot cakes, topping the iPad charts within hours of release. But where's the Android port, which Carmack hinted was in the works back in October? Well, it seems the fate of an Android version may be uncertain, due to limitations of the Android Marketplace, among other reasons.

Apparently, the Marketplace "doesn't even let you download more than 20 or 30MB" which can be stifling to triple-A titles like Rage, weighing in at 743MB- "you have to end up setting up your own server and doing your own transfer for all of that. Dealing with the user interface of managing space... there's a lot of things that happen automagically for us on iOS that we'll have to deal with particularly on the Android space."

Additionally, Carmack notes "the iOS platform has really been a pleasure to work on[...] Half of the reason for us ditching the old feature phones was that it was so much more pleasant to develop for iOS. And I fear that we would be slipping back into some of that quagmire on the Android side of things. But there's no doubt that the installed user base is huge, and is getting larger all the time."

I interpret the interview not as a condemnation of the Android platform outright, but simply a confirmation of what many developers have been saying for a while- the Android SDK is simply not as robust or well-documented as the iOS SDK and the Marketplace is not ready for triple-A game titles just yet.

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