updated 12/17/2021
highlights
  1. Porting a PC Game to Android: Insights From Pingle Studio
  2. Major PC Games Ported to Android, and Why You Should Do It Too
  3. How to Port a PC Game to Android
  4. Step 1. Adapting the Source Code
  5. Step 2. Adapting the Visual Assets
  6. Step 3. Changing the UI and the Controls
  7. Step 4. Testing the Game
  8. Step 5. Checking for Compliance with Play Store Rules
  9. Unique Features of Porting a PC Game to Android
  10. How to Convert a PC Game to Android: Challenges
  11. Source Code May Be Difficult to Adapt
  12. Lack of Tool Compatibility
  13. Ensuring Great Performance
  14. Controls Adaptation
  15. PC Video Game Porting to Android Timeline
  16. Consider Pingle Studio Your Trusted Partner
  17. Final Thoughts

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Porting a PC Game to Android: Insights From Pingle Studio

According to the research conducted by Go-Globe, the mobile gaming market is responsible for 51% of revenue in the overall gaming industry. And the large majority of mobile gamers – namely 78% — are Android users.

Porting a PC game to Android can be a first step in reaching that audience, thus making your game much more popular, easier to enjoy for players on the go, and making a bigger profit. However, converting a PC game to Android can be challenging, especially if you don’t have any experience in the area. So, let’s review how to port a PC game to Android, the challenges of the process, and pitfalls to avoid.

Major PC Games Ported to Android, and Why You Should Do It Too

As the mobile hardware becomes increasingly better, more and more developers are looking to port their PC and console titles to mobile. This trend seems to be popular all across the industry, as both big AAA multiplayer titles like Fortnite and PUBG and single-player indie games like Dead Cells and Banner Saga have Android ports.

So, what makes the PC game conversion for Android worth the time and effort? Well, it allows for reaching a bigger audience while spending much fewer resources than developing a mobile game from scratch. For example, using the existing assets is much cheaper than creating them specifically for the device.

How to Port a PC Game to Android

Step 1. Adapting the Source Code

The first step in our overview of how to convert a PC game to Android is converting the source code to the state understandable by the mobile system. This might require switching to another language, game engine, or searching for alternative software tools.

This step is often the reason why the question of how to port old PC games to Android is such a difficult one. To complete the port, the programmer needs access to the source code, which is often either protected by copyright laws or even lost to the ages.

Step 2. Adapting the Visual Assets

The next step you would have to complete while learning how to port a Windows game to Android is making sure that the visual elements of your game work well on the target platform. This may include upgrading the graphics to showcase more details or reducing them to ensure better performance and suitability to lower resolution.

The decisions you will make here should depend on the hardware your target audience uses. If your research shows that your potential users mostly use tablets, the graphical downgrade might not be necessary.

Step 3. Changing the UI and the Controls

Another important step in porting a Windows game to Android is adapting the game’s controls to the touchscreen and changing the UI so it doesn’t interfere with them. This stage is crucial for making the gameplay experience enjoyable to the player.

Many PC games ported to Android have a standard gamepad control layout, and while it is a valid solution, do not limit yourself by it. Even if your controls are unique and unfamiliar to the player, they will quickly get used to them if they are comfortable to use.

Step 4. Testing the Game

Even if you’ve tested your PC game over and over again during its development, this step should not be skipped during the PC video game porting to Android. You might not only be able to find bugs and issues connected with the specifics of the platform, but also catch mistakes made during the game adaptation.

It’s important to consider that game testing on Android is different from PC game testing. This means that if you don’t have a person with this experience on your stuff, you might have to look for a specialist elsewhere.

Step 5. Checking for Compliance with Play Store Rules

After you’ve learned how to convert PC games for Android devices, it’s time to make sure that you can actually sell your product on an official platform. The store rules are there to prevent the spread of inappropriate and offensive content through the large audience of Android users, which means that your game will be removed from the marketplace if it is deemed to violate one of them.

If you plan to include in-game purchases into your product, pay special attention to the rules concerning them. You should be aware that Google will take a 15% cut of your revenue if it is below $1 million, with a 30% cut of each dollar earned over that.

Unique Features of Porting a PC Game to Android

One of the main distinctions of the game porting process to Android compared to any other type of gaming system is the number of distinct Android devices out there. In order to make sure that your game works well on all of them, you will have to conduct a lot of testing and probing. This makes it all the more important to create a detailed list of devices that would support your game.

On the other hand, if your port is done, it is rather easy to distribute it. Google Play Store rules are not as strict as, for example, Apple App Store ones. Furthermore, you’ll be able to distribute it through your own channels, as installing an application on most Android devices using just a .apk file is fairly easy.

How to Convert a PC Game to Android: Challenges

Source Code May Be Difficult to Adapt

The complexity of the game’s source code adaptation can be extremely easy and awfully hard. This depends on the technologies and tools that were used during the development. For example, if you're looking for how to port a Unity game to Android, you will find multiple helpful guides that will take you through the process.

On the other hand, if you’ve developed a proprietary engine with no porting in mind, you might have to rewrite the source code from the ground up. While the cost of porting, in this case, will still be lower than development from the ground up, it might still take a lot of time and effort to complete.

Lack of Tool Compatibility

While game development for Android is becoming increasingly popular, this was not the case until fairly recently. This is why the number and variety of development tools for the platform are fairly limited, and the tools available often lack features.

As a result, if during the PC game development you’ve used a tool that is not directly compatible with Android, you might have a hard time finding an alternative solution. Some developers are even forced to create their own tools from the ground up.

Ensuring Great Performance

As we’ve mentioned, the variety of Android devices out there is massive. The thing you need to remember is that not all of them are equipped with powerful hardware. So, making sure your game works well with every device type might be challenging.

There are two realistic solutions to this challenge. Firstly, you can focus on a dedicated segment of the audience that owns devices that are good enough to run your game. Secondly, you can reduce the focus on the visual component and optimize your game for budget devices.

Controls Adaptation

The mouse and keyboard are highly precise controls that are easy to use and customize. Unfortunately, such controls often don’t transfer well to a touchscreen. Adapting the controls can be especially challenging if you have no experience in the matter.

This issue is similar to the one that comes up while porting a PC game to consoles. However, there are several key differences. For example, consoles have a defined controller layout, while you can add any element you like to the touchscreen controls. However, touchscreen controls take a part of the screen, which makes it more challenging to ensure that they don’t interfere with gameplay.

PC Video Game Porting to Android Timeline

It is rather difficult to estimate how much porting a game from PC to mobile will take in terms of time. Multiple factors impact the timeline. Some of the most affecting include:

  • How extensive the source code changes need to be;
  • How long the performance optimization will take;
  • How hard it is to add new controls to the game;
  • How experienced your porting team is.

All in all, porting a game from PC to Android can take anywhere from a month to more than a year.

Consider Pingle Studio Your Trusted Partner

Here at Pingle Studio, we assist in multiple facets of game development and co-development, including the game porting services. Our team of knowledgeable developers has dozens of projects behind their belt, which includes many projects of porting PC games to Android.

Among our successful works is Donut County – a cute and unique game interesting for gamers of all ages. We’ve managed to adapt its console-grade graphics while maintaining great performance via a content optimization pipeline.

Another great project we’ve worked on is Hello Neighbor – one-of-a-kind indie horror – and its multiplayer variation. The games perform well on all types of devices and have a convenient control scheme, which we’ve developed from scratch.

Final Thoughts

Porting a PC game to Android can take up a lot of time, money, and effort, especially if your team is not experienced in the matter. You can make the process easier with the help of outsourcing, but finding the best game porting company can be challenging as well.

If you’re looking for a team with a lot of experience in the field and a great track record, Pingle Studio should be your first choice. Contact us right away, and we’ll discuss your project in detail.

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