I am asked this question a lot the past few months. First of all it’s a good thing that people are curious about why someone would choose to code for Windows Phone instead of the other platforms, especially with the knowledge that iOS and Android have a huge market share combined and Windows Phone does not (yet). I have a few reasons, and although they might not satisfy some people, they are enough for me.
Developing for Windows Phone is fun. I love the SDK, I love the tools, I love the whole experience. I have been developing games since I was a little boy and the reason back then continues to be the reason right now. I am having fun developing games. Back in the day (think: 8bit home computing), almost all of my creations were developed, tested and enjoyed by yours truly exclusively. There was no such thing as a “user base” but even so I was still enjoying developing games. I still do. But in order for this to be fun, I have to have a fun experience doing it. C#, .NET, VS and XNA give me just that. An interesting example is given on the video below, which shows how the experience of creating a hello world app in the 3 platforms is.
Making games is not my main activity. This blends a bit with the other reasons. Spending 1-2 hours per day developing games for Windows Phone allows me to go about doing the other things I am doing in my life (finishing my PhD and having a family). I strongly have the feeling that this would not exactly be possible using any of the other two platforms and be dedicated enough to master either of them. I am not saying it is impossible, but I truly feel efficient game developing on Windows Phone, even if I don’t have lots of time to spend. Also, because Windows Phone game development is not my main thing, income is welcome, but I am not going to starve because the market share is smaller than the other platforms. Yes, it is not enough to consider it my full time thing just yet, but exactly this brings us to :
I have placed a bet with Windows Phone. And not just with Windows Phone, but with the up-and-coming Windows ecosystem. For me right now, Microsoft is the new Apple. It innovated constantly in many fronts and has some amazing successes to show for its efforts. For example, the xbox came late to the party, but managed to level the competition in just a few years. I knew since the beginning of the Windows Phone last year, that it was part of something much greater than just a phone OS. Microsoft’s strategy is to finally put the huge advantage of Windows to good use and win in the other fronts utilizing just that. Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the new Xbox platform next year will provide a unified ecosystem that will be unbeatable. My bet is to be involved in this as early as possible and this was last year when Windows Phone launched and I released my first game for the platform, Tetrada. I already have a few games and apps in the marketplace and the codebase and libraries I have developed are fully reusable not only in Windows Phone 8 “Apollo” (compatibility with Windows Phone 7 has been confirmed) but also in Windows 8 (MonsterUp on Windows tablets) AND XBox 360. This is a good investment for the future of the ecosystem on my part and since I can currently afford to not being sustained by the income from this activity, fun and investment for the future come first.
I think these are my main reasons. My current status may differ from yours of course but for me, I think that I am doing the right thing. The games I’ve made have proven quite successful and I am thoroughly enjoying that, so I can’t find a reason to stop doing what I’m doing. And I do believe I am going to win the Windows ecosystem bet. Nokia is in full time, Skype is here, big game and software studios are interested in the platform and it seems to be getting the thumbs up from a lot of tech-blogs, site and media in general.
The future of Windows Phone looks bright!