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'Alto's Odyssey' lands on Android for free next week

Plus a chat with developer Ryan Cash about the iOS launch and beyond.
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Apple Design Award winner Alto's Odyssey hit the App Store in February, but Android players have been forced to wait for the serene platformer to come to Google Play. They won't have to sit on their hands for much longer -- Alto's Odyssey will land on Android on July 26th. And, when it does, it'll be free.

The iOS version of Alto's Odyssey costs $5 and that's not going to change when the Android edition goes live. There's precedent for this platform price disparity: Alto's Adventure, the first game in the series, cost $3 on the App Store when it launched in 2015, while the Android version landed in 2016 as a free game. Snowman, the studio behind Alto, had heard from fellow indie developers that it was difficult to attain App Store-level sales figures on Google Play with a paid game, so they tried out a free model with ad support.

It worked. Alto's Adventure has been downloaded 36.5 million times on Android, with 647 billion play sessions total, Snowman founder Ryan Cash told Engadget. Over the past three months, Alto's Adventure Android players have logged on for an average of 13 million sessions a day across 1.5 million devices. Keep in mind, those numbers are all for a game that's more than two years old.

Alto's Odyssey is keeping up the positive sales trend on iOS. It's been out for five months as a premium title on the App Store, and it's already picked up an Apple Design Award.

"Sales have definitely met our expectations," Cash said. "It can be tough to launch a premium mobile game these days, especially with such high-quality console-level games making their way to mobile as F2P titles. With that being said, if you make something really great, and you spend time marketing it properly (and add a bit of luck), you can still make a solid business as a premium title today."

The Android launch is all about fostering longevity for the series, but it's also critical to Snowman's future as a studio, financially and culturally.

"With our upcoming Android launch we're hoping to add an additional and hopefully long-running source of revenue for the company, but more importantly, we're excited to continue growing the Alto fanbase," Cash said. "It shows that we take our time with the things we make, and that we're -- hopefully -- building a strong and lasting reputation with the kinds of products we make."

"There's always something cooking."

Snowman was founded in 2012 and, thanks in large part to Alto, it's grown into a stable indie studio that's able to support the development of multiple projects at once. Today, Snowman acts as a middle man for a few other small studios, offering marketing and collaboration support on games including Where Cards Fall, Skate City and DISTANT.

However, Alto is baked into Snowman's DNA and the series won't likely end with Odyssey's Android debut.

"When you love something as much as we love Alto, it's hard not to be constantly thinking about new ideas and new adventures, pardon the pun," Cash said. "But I think we're going to take a bit of time to take a step back and make sure we don't just rush to foregone conclusions. At the same time it's not that we've completely stopped working on Alto stuff -- there's always something cooking."

Jessica earned her BA in journalism from ASU's Walter Cronkite School in 2011, and she's written for online outlets since 2008, with four years as senior reporter at Joystiq. She specializes in covering independent video games and esports, and she strives to tell human stories within the broader tech industry. Jessica is also a sci-fi novelist with a completed manuscript floating through the mysterious ether of potential publishers.

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