If you are a Corona SDK developer and you are using the Free Version of the Corona framework, you likely noticed a slight change with the latest Public Build Release.
Not only did they fix some breaking changes required by Apple with the release of iOS10, but there was something new that appeared with this new build.
What was is?
A Corona Framework Splash Screen!
Yes, a Corona Labs splash screen was inserted as a mandatory part of any build done with the Free Version of the Corona framework from build release 2016.2949 onwards.
And the forums were super active with some people complaining, some people supporting and some people….. err… really not caring!
Going back a few years to approximately 2014 you will recall that the Corona framework was a paid product.
There was a Free version (with a subset to the full API), Basic version (~$16/month included IAP), Pro version (~$49/month with all Premium features) and Enterprise versions (~$79-199/month allowing native API and offline builds).
Then GDC 2015 happened and Corona Labs announced the scrapping of the previous limited Free/Basic versions and that the full Pro version was now to become Free!
I myself was like “holy crap!”, that just saved me about $600 per year on a Pro subscription. It was a move that was inline with what two other major framework providers did at the time (making a full or nearly full featured Free version of their game engines). Those other two were: Unreal Engine and Unity3D.
Although both Unreal Engine and Unity are primarily for 3D game development… Unity in particular released a 2D version the year prior called “Unity 2D”… and their move at GDC 2015 may have been a forcing hand for a full featured Free version of the Corona framework.
Game Engine Attribution
Many game development frameworks like Unity and Marmalade Quick, implemented a mandatory Splash Screen with their Logo for developers using the Free version of their frameworks. And they did that from day 1 of releasing their Free versions.
If you imagine that most developers are using a Free version of the SDK, then a mandatory Splash Screen with the game engine logo is a smart implementation to:
- Bring brand awareness about the Game Engine/Framework… which aims to
- Onboard more developers to the Game Engine/Framework… which aims to
- Create a growing and health developer base and community for the Game Engine/Framework
In this current age of the Internet I think we are spoiled with amazing tools like Corona SDK, Unity, Android Studio, Xcode… that are all available in some form or another as Free….
Surely the Game Engine/Framework provider is allowed to pop in a 1-2 second Splash Screen if developers choose to use the Free version… to help promote their Game Engine/Framework brand right?
In the screen shot below you can see the new Corona SDK Free tier (Build 2016.2949 and greater) implements a Corona Labs branded splash screen (as of October 2016) –
Here we can see the Marmalade/Quick Free tier implements a Marmalade branded splash screen and ads (as of October 2016) –
Here we can see the Unity Free tier implements a Unity branded splash screen (as of October 2016) –
Splash Screen or Bust (or Pay Up)
I personally think Corona SDK should have implemented the mandatory Splash Screen in the Free version of the SDK since Day 1 of there announcement back at GDC 2015.
We all want this platform to survive and if it goes bust, then quite possibly the best cross-platform 2D framework could vanish! That would be a disaster for us developers that relay on the heavy lift that Corona SDK performs for us in our apps.
And lets not forget… if someone is truly passionate about not wanting to have a Corona branded splash screen when their app loads they can pay $99 per year to eliminate or alter the splash screen with the new plugin that is available from the Corona Marketplace.
Could the roll out of the mandatory Splash Screen in the new Corona Free version been done better?
This is the only point I agree on with most of the complainers in the Forums. If you were simply updating your app for a new submission to support iOS10 you definitely would have been caught off guard by having a new Game Engine/Framework splash screen appear prior to your own Splash screen when your app loaded.
Framework Health and Adoption
To keep any framework healthy you need a large adoption of developers using it or it will simply die out and not be updated/supported as the new Android and iOS versions roll out every year. I believe that is Corona’s goal with their change to the Free tier.
The current developer base of Corona is touted at over 300 Thousand. In comparison the Unity developer base is touted at 5.5 Million registered users. That makes the Unity developer base about 18 times larger…. but like I said before I think the Corona framework is a better game engine for 2D game and app development. And so does John Romero…. so I must be right.
I personally think Corona is a better 2D framework than Unity 2D.
But… Unity has obviously done a better job at advertising/marketing their platform over the years.
Beyond the developer base, we might turn ourselves to Google Trends to see what sort of “buzz” a particular SDK or framework might can generated in Google Search over the last few years.
See below the interest in the search term “Corona SDK” over that last 5 years –
And here is the interest in the search term “Unity 3D” over the last 5 years –
As you can see the hype of the app ‘Gold Rush’ era (2008-2014) generated peak developer interest in both cross platform frameworks into 2014. Both search interest in Unity and Corona SDK has dropped since mid 2014, with Corona SDK showing a slightly stabilized flat-to-upward trend.
I think the general search interest drop in mobile game development frameworks is a factor of a couple things –
- Making apps is not easy! (or I should say making Good apps is not easy… regardless of the framework)
- The media hype of indie developers getting rich quick has died down
For the first point, Corona SDK makes is as easy as practically possible and you can deploy to many stores. Deploying to Google Play, Apple’s App Store, Amazon, Windows Store, etc… is crucial for part-time App Developers like myself to maximise return on investment (mainly the time investment for me).
For the second point, break out success stories of Indie developers still occur every year (so it is possible). This year was Color Switch. The year before we heard about (Corona framework developed) Pop The Lock. But the media doesn’t pick up on it anymore… not like 5 years ago when we all heard about (Corona framework developed) Bubble Ball coded by a 14-year named Robert Nay.
Wave design by Freepik in the post banner.