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Is iPad the future for indie developers?

World of Goo iOS smashes Wii/PC sales.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

In recent years PlayStation Network, Steam, WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade have been the primary hunting grounds for indie developers in search of an audience. However, according to the studio behind cult hit World of Goo, the future could lie elsewhere: namely, on the iPad.

As detailed in a lengthy, stat-heavy post on 2D Boy's website, the recently released iPad version of its classic puzzler World of Goo was downloaded 125,000 times in its first month on sale.

That's substantially more than it managed during its initial run on Steam and WiiWare following its 2008 launch. On Wii, the game saw 68,000 sales in its best 31 day period, while on PC it moved 97,000 during its record month.

2D Boy co-founder Ron Carmel suggested this could be a sign that the independent games market was rapidly evolving beyond its traditional console/PC roots.

"In 2008, with the successful releases of Castle Crashers, Braid, and World of Goo, it became fairly clear that consoles were 'where it's at' for independent developers, and a lot of attention was given to which console provided the best distribution opportunities," he explained.

"Nintendo had the largest install base, XBLA had the largest number of registered users, and PSN had the strongest growth momentum. This discussion is still going on today and the landscape is constantly shifting.

"World of Goo's launch on iPad gave us a new perspective on that discussion," he continued.

"So far, the iPad version is by far the fastest selling version of the game, both in terms of number of units sold and in revenue generated.

"What makes this even more amazing is that this is a two year old game released on a platform that is less than a year old. The iPad doesn't have the benefit of an install base built up over several years.

Carmel didn't quite make the leap and suggest that indies working on console games should down tools immediately and pick up an iOS dev kit. However, it seems as if 2D Boy knows where its future lies.

"In the short term, we still think that if an independent developer can get their game on a console it's a safer bet than playing the App Store lottery, but one might wonder whether, in the long run, it even matters who wins the PSN / WiiWare / XBLA race."

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