The mobile gaming market in the US continues to grow in the wake of the pandemic, with the number of players reaching more than 150 million. Furthermore, mobile gaming accounts for almost 50% of overall revenue in the gaming industry. This means that if you want to expand your audience considerably and gain more earnings, game porting to iOS is the way to go.
However, not every game on the App Store is successful. To achieve your goals, you need to know how to port a video game to iOS and have certain experience with mobile software development. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at what you need for successful video game porting to iOS.
How to Port a Video Game to iOS: The Porting Requirements
When it comes to PC game development, there is a wide variety of tools available. You can either choose to use an existing engine or build your own from the ground up, select one of the dozens of programming languages, and make use of multiple additional tools.
The requirements to get your PC games ported to iOS depend on the choices you’ve made during the game development. If you’ve used the engine that supports iOS devices (like Unity), it might take you only a couple of hours to export a game to iOS. However, if you’ve used a language not compatible with an iPhone or an iPad, you might have to rewrite the code from the ground up.
1. Strategy Development
The first stage of video game porting to iOS is a preparation for what’s to come. During the strategy development, you should outline the plan for the rest of the process, define your resources, and determine the potential challenges you might face.
The proper strategy development can help you avoid unnecessary expenses and determine the timeline of the porting video game to iOS. However, this stage is often based on the team’s experience, so it might be challenging for someone new to the field.
2. Rewriting or Adapting the Code
The next step you need to take to port the game to iOS is to actually adapt the source code of the application. As we’ve mentioned, the complexity of this step depends on how your original application was developed.
Nevertheless, rewriting or adapting the code to the new platform is still not as time- and resource-consuming as developing the game from scratch. Another challenge that might come up during this stage is a lack of certain tools available for console and PC. In this case, you would need to search for an alternative or simply change your approach to reach a similar result.
3. Optimizing the Visuals
What looks good on a desktop monitor or a TV screen does not necessarily look good on a mobile device. While the Retina displays of iPhones and iPads are often praised for their high quality, their size and definition cannot be compared to HD monitors.
Furthermore, optimizing the visuals is an important step that can enhance the performance of the game. Overall, while you most likely won’t have to update every texture, this step will take some time to complete.
4. Adapting Controls
Controls are among the most essential parts of the gameplay experience. Countless high-quality games have been messed up with a clunky camera or unresponsive character controls.
This is why adapting the controls plays an important role when you port the game to iOS. You will have to seamlessly adapt the mouse and keyboard (or controller) controls to the touchscreen. Furthermore, you need to make sure that the UI is not cluttered and is comfortable to use.
5. Reworking the Gameplay
When you play a PC game, you might notice that certain gameplay elements will only work on this specific platform. This might concern certain types of puzzles, actions that require extreme precision, etc.
When you convert a game to iOS, you should rework such elements so that they work well on mobile. You can adapt them, replace them with gameplay features specific to mobile devices, or simply remove them.
6. Quality Assurance and Release
Last but not least, the stage of porting a computer game to an iOS app is quality assurance. During this stage, you need to make sure that your final product is up to your standards, that there are no game-breaking bugs, and that the looks and feels of the game match the initial application.
If you feel that your game is ready, it’s time for the release. Don’t forget about the App Store requirements for their games and follow up with proper marketing to your target audience.
Rewriting the Source Code into a Different Language
The first challenge you might face when converting your PC game into an iOS app is the source code adaptation. If you’re not familiar with iOS-supported languages like Objective-C or Swift, you will find it hard to rewrite the code into them.
The best solution for this problem is to cooperate with someone with experience and knowledge of how to port a game to iOS. For example, consider Pingle Studio, as we’ve helped port multiple games to mobile, including Hello Neighbor and The Survivalists. Otherwise, if you know you’ll need to port your game to a mobile platform – use the engine that supports it right away, like Unity or Unreal Engine.
Lack of Development Tools Compatibility
With the game development industry evolving and growing rapidly, more and more specific development tools appear to make completing certain tasks easier and fast. Most of these tools are PC-oriented, as this platform provides more flexibility.
The lack of compatibility for these tools for iOS game development can make the porting process more challenging. If you’re not familiar with mobile game creation, it won’t be easy for you to find an alternative for a tool you’re used to.
Problems with Optimization
While modern mobile devices are equipped with powerful enough hardware to launch some of the best modern games, it is not what they were made for. They are still less equipped for gaming than even mobile consoles.
For a game to run correctly on an iOS device, you will need to find a tricky balance between the quality of the game’s visuals and its performance. You will have to adapt models and textures for them to look great on a small screen.
What makes it hard to adapt some games to mobile devices is some of their core gameplay elements. Some actions are hard to perform on a touchscreen UI, and frequently gameplay relies on visual elements that are hard to discern on a small mobile screen.
That’s why in some cases, game porting includes a complete overhaul of gameplay. While it is challenging and time-consuming, it is definitely not impossible. Be sure to conduct thorough playtesting to make sure that the game works well on the device.
Camera and Controls
Character and camera controls are some of the most challenging things to adapt to a mobile device: mobile devices don’t have the luxury of precision of a controller or a mouse. You need to develop a touchscreen UI that will not interfere with what’s going on the screen and will ensure comfortable control for high-quality gameplay. This balance can be achieved with the help of thorough playtesting and feedback gathering.
App Store Policy Compliance
When it comes to app purchases and installation on iOS devices, the App Store has a monopoly. This means that you won’t be able to effectively distribute your game on Apple devices without them. So, you need to carefully make sure that your game complies with the App Store policies, especially when it comes to in-app purchases.
Pingle Studio has a wide experience when it comes to the co-development and porting of games. One of the projects we’ve worked on porting to iOS is Hello Neighbor.
Hello Neighbor is a well-known indie horror game with a unique art style and thrilling gameplay. In just one quarter, we’ve managed to reproduce the console-level graphics on iOS, design and adjust touchscreen controls, and overall ensure a seamless gameplay experience for the players.