- Benefits of Porting Your Video Game
- Challenges of Porting a Game
- Adaptation of a Proprietary Game Engine
- Maintaining Graphics and Performance Balance
- Differences in Controls
- Complying with Terms of Service of Each Game Store
- Finding the Right Team for Each Platform
- 8 Stages of the Game Porting Process
- #1 Adapting the Source Code
- #2 Adapting the Visual Assets
- #3 Applying the Right Middleware to Make the Game Run
- #4 Optimizing the CPU and GPU Performance
- #5 Adapting the Gameplay Elements
- #6 Creating the Appropriate UI and Control Scheme
- #7 Game Testing
- #8 Applying Platform-Specific Requirements
- Choose Pingle Studio as Your Game Porting Partner
The game porting process is a multifaceted procedure that has a lot of details and intricacies. The specifics for each game depend on multiple parameters, from the native and target platforms to the type of creative license you’ve used for your assets.
However, key game porting process stages in the cycle remain the same for most cases. So, let’s learn more about the general approach towards the process of porting a game from the first step to the final actions you need to make.
Before we get into answering “What is the process of porting a game?” let’s take a closer look at why do it in the first place. As the procedure can take a lot of time and effort, the reasons for it should justify the resources spent.
The most notable benefit of the multi-platform launch of your video game is that it will reach a wider audience. For example, Nintendo sold 28.3 million units of their Switch console in 2020 alone, with Sony selling 13 million PlayStation 4 and 5 units and Microsoft selling 6.2 units of Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
While there is certainly some overlap in numbers, as some gamers own multiple consoles, you will still open your game up to millions of potential players if you choose to port to one of the major gaming consoles. So, if you want to maximize your profits, you need to launch your game on multiple platforms.
Another important benefit to consider is that by porting your game, you provide your players with an opportunity of choice. Even if they own the platform your game is native to, they might prefer playing it on another one due to various personal reasons.
Creating a game engine that specifically suits the needs of your game has its benefits. You can uniquely optimize the gameplay of your title and ensure great performance for the native platform. Furthermore, it will be easier for maintenance, as you’re intimately familiar with each detail and code element.
Unfortunately, proprietary game engines are extremely challenging to convert to the platform they were not created for. Unless it was designed with portability in mind, some portions will most likely have to be rewritten; in some cases, it will have to be changed from the ground up.
One of the critical phases of a game porting process is performance optimization. The bigger the discrepancy in hardware between the platforms, the more challenging the process is.
If the hardware of the target platform is less powerful, one of the major steps you can take is to downgrade the graphics of your game. However, if it is more powerful, you might have to improve the graphical elements to provide your users with a better experience, which is often more challenging.
Another important thing to consider during the stages of a game porting process is the differences in control schemes across the platforms. As the design of the game as a whole is often done with certain controls in mind, this can become a bigger problem than you might’ve expected.
This problem is amplified when porting to or from PC and mobile devices. PC games are controlled with a mouse and a keyboard, which have a level of precision gamepads often lack. And touchscreen controls need to be designed and implemented so that they do not interfere with gameplay.
One of the last video game porting phases is posting it to the game store of your choice. Registering as a developer for each of them can be a challenge in and of its own, as it often requires proof of identity and, in some cases, a payment for account status.
Furthermore, you need to make sure that your game complies with all the requirements a certain game-selling platform has. Most commonly, your game needs to be officially rated for the territory you plan to sell it on and have insurance covering potential licensing issues.
While thorough strategic planning can help you get through the porting process without major issues, it is better to have some help from experienced developers. They will assist you with pitfalls and platform specifics you’re not aware of, and overall demonstrate how to improve the process of porting a game.
However, each platform has its own challenges, so the team you need to hire needs to be well-versed in porting to each device you plan to bring your game to. And, if you want to maximize your reach, it will be challenging to find developers with so much experience.
To simplify the development, the operation is divided into several game porting process steps that are common across the devices. Let’s identify these stages and learn how to port a game step by step.
The first major thing that needs to be adapted in the transition from one platform to the other is the game’s source code. The complexity of this process heavily depends on the differences between the architecture of each platform and on the game engine you’ve used during the development.
In the case of many multi-platform engines, like Unity or Unreal Engine, this phase of a game porting process can be easy and fast, with several tweaks made to the code. However, this can be one of the hardest stages that requires a lot of time and resources if you’ve developed your own engine and heavily optimized it for a specific platform.
Let’s move on to one of the most important steps of a game porting process – optimizing the visual assets. Adapting the graphics to the platform hardware ensures that the game meets the requirements for performance and provides the player with the best experience.
This stage is so crucial because the game’s visuals are one of the first things players notice about the game. While a project can become successful thanks to the engaging story or unique, innovative gameplay, the visual element is what can attract the initial attention to the game.
The dependencies on libraries and other middleware are some of the most difficult elements to adapt during the porting process. During the development, you usually search for the most convenient solution, but it is often suitable only for one specific platform and is closed-source.
So, to make the game run, you will have to search for an alternative solution, rewrite this portion of the game entirely, or even create your own middleware. This issue often comes up referring to the game’s audio, so pay attention to that component of your project.
The first time you make the game run on the target platform, you will probably get certain performance issues, like lags and performance spikes. The reason is that your game has been tested and optimized for different hardware, and the target platform has specifics that are often difficult to predict.
To properly optimize the CPU and GPU performance while running the game on the target platform, you need to understand how it works. The goal is to fine-tune the game so that the use of resources is optimal – the game runs smoothly, and the quality of the visuals is high enough so that all the hardware resources are engaged.
If your game was developed with a certain platform in mind, some gameplay elements might reflect that. For example, tasks that require precise camera control in a short time span are more suitable for PC games, as the use of a mouse makes them easier for the player.
These gameplay elements need to be adapted (or removed) for a better player experience. The implementation of additional platform-specific elements can help to make the game better suited for the target platform.
This stage of game porting process steps can be seen as the game polish. However, it is essential to provide all the players with an equally comfortable and satisfying experience.
This step is especially challenging when it comes to porting a game to and from a mobile platform. Touchscreen controls are highly specific in that they have to be designed to provide all the needed functionality while being comfortable and not too obstructing for the gameplay.
Porting a game can change it a lot compared to the original. This can result in unexpected interactions, bugs, and lags. This makes testing one of the essential components of a game porting process.
However, game testing also has certain specifics for different gaming platforms. This means that, ideally, it should be conducted by someone familiar with the target platform and the testing tools that are perfect for it.
The last step you should take before sending your game for approval to the game store of your choice is to apply the platform-specific requirements. Learn more about the conditions for getting your game approved on the official website of the target console.
The usual requirements you have to take care of include the rating from an official rating board, proper localization for the territories you plan to sell your game on, the proof of proper licensing for the assets you’ve used, etc.
Pingle Studio is a team of experienced game developers that have worked on numerous video game porting and optimization projects. We’ve worked on adapting games to multiple platforms at once, from iOS and Android devices to next-gen consoles.
Among our successful projects is Hello Neighbor and its multiplayer continuation – Hello Neighbor Hide & Seek. While adapting them to mobile devices, we’ve optimized the most resource-consuming assets and developed custom touchscreen controls from scratch.
Another example of the game we’ve worked on is The Survivalists. Working on a tight schedule, in less than 4 months we’ve managed to adapt the game, including its co-op-multiplayer aspect, to mobile devices, to the point that it got the Apple Arcade certification.
So, if you need help bringing your game to any platform, Pingle Studio is your partner of choice. We’ll focus on keeping your vision intact while ensuring that the game is optimized for the best performance on your target platform.
Game porting can be a challenging process that can take up a lot of time and resources, especially if you don’t have any experience with your target console. However, it is essential if you want to reach a larger audience.
One of the best ways to improve the game porting process is to hire a skilled development team familiar with the game porting services. As we have multiple successful projects in game porting and co-development, Pingle Studio is your best choice. Contact us right now and learn more about how we can assist your project.