The End of SDK Fatigue for Mobile Game Developers and Service Providers


One of the most common complaints I hear from mobile game developers and publishers is that it’s too time consuming to integrate all the required SDKs (Software Development Kits) to their games. I can totally feel their pain, since I’ve managed a dozen mobile game projects with both local and remote development teams.

Third party service providers often claim that it only takes a few minutes to an hour to integrate their SDKs. However, based on my experiences and what I’ve heard from other folks in the industry, it can take an average of one person’s work week to incorporate an SDK into a mobile game. This is even more difficult for people who use mobile game engines to create their games because most of the time, game developers require an extra plugin for the specific engine to use the SDK.  Some service providers offer their own plugin for certain game engines, whereas others have to develop their own plugin in order to assimilate their work with the SDK.

This is just for one SDK. Think about how many SDKs we put into a mobile game, ad networks, analytics tools, attributions, push notifications, user acquisitions, mediation platforms, retargeting solutions, etc. The minimum number you need to put into a game is 5, but the average number in the industry for game operation is 10.

Those SDKs can also cause issues which can affect your app’s approval process. If your app gets rejected, your team has to then go back to the drawing board to fix the issues and resubmit, which takes another one to two weeks. Imagine how much harder this could be if some of the SDKs in your game frequent updates.

This is what we call “SDK fatigue”. Each SDK integration consumes time and money. Based on our internal research, maintaining SDK integration takes up to 40% of post-launch engineering man-hours; that’s a huge cost for mobile game developers/publishers. It negatively affects morale when all this time is used for integration, only to have to give up after running into unresolvable issues. For publishers, missing deadlines for marketing campaigns due to troublesome SDK integrations can be extremely detrimental to performance.

On the other side of things, the services that provide the SDKs also suffer. SDK fatigue makes plenty of developers hate integrating them and reluctant to try new services. For those game developers who use game engines, service providers have to create plugins for those developers to use their SDK. It’s also not cost effective for the service provider to support their plugin for any specific engine because some of them have multiple versions with multiple programming languages for supporting different mobile platforms.

Chukong Technology, the owner of Cocos2d-x (one of the most popular mobile game engines) just beta launched a new initiative called Cocos SDKBOX, which is intended to end the SDK fatigue for both Cocos2d-x mobile game developers and 3rd party service providers.

Cocos SDKBOX is a win-win solution for both developers and service providers. By using Cocos SDKBOX, developers can integrate an SDK within an hour. For participating service providers, Cocos engineers will take care of the building and maintenance of the 3rd party service’s plugins and SDKs. If our engineers certify the participating provider’s service, then developers who use our game engine can integrate their SDK through a smooth and high-quality process. Cocos SDKBOX will also serve as a catalog in which the participating service providers’ products can be easily found and adopted by our developers.

Cocos SDKBOX currently supports Adcolony, Chartboost, Google Analytics, Google Play, App Store, Flurry Analytics, Kochava, and Vungle; eventually it will support all major services for mobile game production and operation.

I will talk more about the features of Cocos SDKBOX in my next article. Now, I would like to conclude this one with the comments by David Bardwick, the Lead SDK Developer at Kochava: “This is a great service, I was able to create an iOS app as easily and have Kochava integrated and running in 15 minutes from start to finish! As a service provider we are very excited about this service and look forward to implementing it with our users in the future.”

Cocos SDKBOX is totally free, you can find out more information about it at sdkbox.cocos2d-x.org.

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Mantin Lu

About Mantin Lu

Strategic planner and project manager with 15 years of experience in the digital entertainment industry, Master’s degrees in business & engineering, and a track record of successful expansion in Asian and American markets.

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