Future of UE4 on Android?

Hi,

I’m new to UE4 and probably kind of a typical indy mobile developer. I’m currently looking around for an engine to develop mostly 2D/3D casual free2play or ads mobile games. UE is known to me as a high end PC engine and I would have no doubts about using it for this market.

But concerning mobile games I’m seriously confused about what UE4 wants to accomplish and where it is heading? Even 5 Months after the initial release.

In free2play and ads, everything is about mass markets and retention. Losing too many players instantly kills a game as the game will quickly bleed out. Every percent in installs counts. In the very competitive markets today, it’s hard to reach the required numbers. Considering this and looking at only 3 officially tested Android devices (of which one isn’t even marked as “Supported” but “Expected”) and just a few high end mobile GPUs supported, I see UE4 is quite far away from prime time. Sending >95% of android users away because their device is not compatible is just not an option at all for production. (Not to talk about receiving bad reviews and being flooded with support inquiries)

Reading through the forums, I can see that the developers are working on more devices and optimizing performance. But I cannot determine what the goal and estimated timeframe may be, even the comments in here are fairly confusing.

There is nothing at all wrong with UE being a high end engine and supporting only high quality games for high end devices. I see how UE4 could get there in the future. It’s just that f2p or ads are a different thing than full price high end games. In development as well as in marketing.

So I wonder what exactly is planned about supporting Android devices and when may that be ready for prime time? Will it target high end only? Is there support for low end devices planned (as in Adreno 220, 305 etc.), how about 2D Games? Will UE4 ever be able to compete with Unity in regards of Android compatibility, even more basic: is that even the plan at all?

As I said, there is nothing at all wrong with going for the high end market. If I knew that’s the plan, I will look forward to many exciting UE4 games, but personally had to move on to find another engine for the time being.

So I hope someone could enlighten me, what the Android plans are and what to expect in a foreseeable future?

Hi,

I have no doughs that Epic will overcome all these technicalities for mobile and surpass other engines in this field, just as they have done for the high end market. Is not going to
be something you see overnight, but rest assure this is one of the direction or road maps ahead.

I started learning Unity around Mid March of this year around the time Epic when public with UE4. Was very exited and shortly after a signed up to a subscription. Since then I’ve been waiting around while learning the engine, blueprints primarily.

The following suggestion would greatly improve workflow and make building for mobile easier.

Introduce mobile templates with a trim down version of the engine or make certain features disable during the development process. With an option to publish to pc/consoles if you want to pursuit this route.

Their are many advantages of having a calibrated or fine tune mobile template.
These are:

  1. Reduce byte size or footprint file size.
  2. No more guessing what is allow or not for mobile features during build.
  3. If something is not working is easier for Epic staff or forum members to pinpoint or troubleshoot (since we all start from the same template).

Also make it more simple with out having to worry about device complatability. For example you’re using HDR in your game a simple script in the editor would detect which device the customer is using and disable HDR, etc.

Is harder to make something simpler, but at the end we all want to work smarter not harder.

Cheers.

“Will it target high end only?”
seems like the answer would be yes. taking what happened with udk as an example of Epic like to do, the engine will and has become heavier with the addition of ‘new features’ vastly outweighing any desire to make the engine run better on lower spec devices. although saying that, they do seem to me working hard trying to make ue4 run on more android devices.
for a well funded team planning to spend years developing the next big thing ue4 is the way to go, by the time the game is ready to go mobile technology will have moved and many people will be able to run it. unless of course Epic stay true to form and pile on the ‘features’ so even the latest and greatest phones will struggle.
for anything less than that, ue4 is absolutely out of the question.
Stormwiz has some great suggestions, hope they make it through in 1 form or another, until then, for freetoplay/casual games i’d go for another engine that will actually run on most devices. sorry Epic, nice engine but way too power hungry for almost every available phone.

Thank you for your input. That sums pretty much up what I learned from the forum so far. The available information on Android support is very confusing and it’s impossible to see if UE4 will be able to handle the (mobile) mass market. Which would be an absolute necessity (not just) for any Indy developer to have a chance at getting profitable.

Some say yes, some say no. And the postings from officials on this topic don’t help.

I agree and that’s what I fear. For an Indy, UE4 and the pricing of course, is very tempting, to say the least. But the time investment to master it and then create professional games with it, is still essential. As tempting as it may be, I just can not effort this investment if UE4 turns out to be not competitive in the mass market at the end - and maybe even never wanted to be.

However, coming from AAA MMORPG development, times have changed a lot. While in the past, the PC player hardware improved every year, it is now actually declining in the last years. More and more people just want to play casually, and don’t care to buy a graphics card at all anymore. So while at the high end GPUs still improve every year, the group of low end players with onboard GPU increases significantly. Quite some new MMORPGs, which were in development for years and always planned to support the latest technology at release, underestimated this and are in trouble now, not because they would be bad games but simply because they lose too many casual players right away, because of the hardware requirements.

While it is probable that GPUs on Android devices will improve, there is still a very good chance that the mass market may just look for even cheaper devices in the future and not for better ones for the same price as their old one. So from my point of view, I expect low end support to stay as important as it is today for the mobile market at least. These players don’t expect high end graphics, but they expect a playable game.

That’s my impression too. At least for now. I would still risk it - just for the fun of working with UE4 - if there would be some more information from the developers on what is planned for the future. (If that would include low end support, that is)

Great thread Papillon! You make good points about being competitive in the marketplace.

As you said, it’s now been over 5 months since UE4 launched. I too am curious if UE4 plans to one day FULLY embrace and prioritize Android (especially for casual games on older low-end phones), or if it will essentially remain a “red-headed stepchild” that gets relatively lower priority.

Heya,

As a heads up, we plan to continue to ramp up device support and testing, and are experimenting with different ways of broadcasting the testing information to users. The existing Android test matrix on the wiki is a bit confusing, and we will be updating it to show compatibility per performance tier instead (LDR/2D, basic lighting, full HDR with sun).

Note: We’re defining ‘compatibility’ at a given feature level as not just running, but running well (at a minimum average framerate). This results in a number of otherwise functional devices that fail our definition right now for the higher tiers due to being just slightly below the performance bar. We’re actively investigating them and it’s likely that further optimizations will bring those into the ‘supported’ list.

RE: The long term goal:

We haven’t set the exact supported test matrix in stone yet, although we will probably be testing 10 Android devices instead of 3 for 4.5, with more to come in the future. The general rule of thumb is that we intend to support Android devices that have a CPU/GPU performance comparable to an iPhone4 for 2D games, and iPhone4S level hardware for 3D games, with more advanced lighting features requiring comparatively more power from there. Hardware that is below the iPhone4 class (4+ year old phones) will likely never be officially supported in UE4 (though anything with Android 2.3 and proper OpenGL ES2 support could in theory run, hardware below an iPhone4 would not run at an acceptable framerate).

Cheers,
Michael Noland

Thank you very much, Michael. Would indeed be great to have a more extensive compatibility matrix - especially including more lower end devices instead of only the latest and highest end ones. That not every bell and whistle will be supported by every device is out of question, but getting a picture of what to target and how to plan for this is as essential for serious indie development as it is for every AAA game.

I have to disagree with you there. The next-gen PC market is definitely alive and kicking. Look at a game like Star Citizen.It’s a next-gen space exploration game made in CRYENIGNE thats had over 52 million dollars in funding from their community. 52 million …

You are right, there is of course still a high end market for PC games and I don’t doubt this, even when most high end games couldn’t do without consoles.

For MMORPGs, one can expect that 30-50% of PC players who join the game don’t have a graphics card. If the game doesn’t support this properly, the day one retention rate instantly takes a huge drop. This means higher marketing costs to compensate for this. If the player acquisition costs get higher than the average lifetime value of a player, the MMORPG is doomed to fail. And there is nothing a developer or publisher can do about this after release.

Regarding Star Citizen, I’m looking forward for the release and wish the good people at Cloud Imperium Games all the best!

We can not judge about an MMO’s success before it is released. I’m sure Star Wars Galaxies, Warhammer Online or Conan Online could have run extremely successful crowdfunding campaigns too. There is often a huge hype for new MMOs before release, which makes it a very smart move of Star Citizen to take this path. Lets see how it will do after release.

As a heads up, here is the list of devices we’re planning on fully testing for 4.5. Some other devices will get some level of testing, but these should have a full compat. pass done:

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-i9505
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 Mali SHV-E210L
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos GT-S7562L
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand GT-i9082L
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini GT-i9190
  • Amazon Kindle Fire (1st gen) (Kindle Fire)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9" KFJWI
  • Huawei Ascend G510
  • HTC Desire 500
  • Motorola Xoom
  • LG Nexus 5 (Nexus 5)

This list has a fairly broad coverage of GPUs and OS versions (it was chosen to maximize !/$ coverage for each added device). It’s also important to remember that a device missing from this list just means we’re not testing it yet, not that it doesn’t work.

Cheers,
Michael Noland

Thanks for that Michael for the heads up on mobile support.

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advance android stuff in ue4