Earlier today, I posted an idea I had to the GameMaker Community Forums Suggestions board: for YoYo Games to provide a Build Farm service to GameMaker: Studio users who would like to build their games for platforms that they do not own.
Currently, while GameMaker: Studio enables users to build to multiple platforms, certain of those platforms have fairly steep requirements in terms of a physical device to connect to in order to build, and even membership in developer programs. Maintaining all these devices and memberships is prohibitively expensive for anyone who isn’t making a living by doing it.
Providing a Software as a Service model for building to remote cloud-hosted virtual devices that are configured and maintained by YYG themselves would greatly simplify the effort required to build to non-Win32 platforms, making it far easier for GameMaker Studio users to reach all of the platforms that GM:S allows them to reach. Suddenly, it becomes feasible for a solo developer studio to release a game on all platforms without having to own a Mac, an iPad, an Android device, etc.
Further, I suggested that once the build farm was up and running, the next logical step would be to allow developers to submit their newly-built games to various App Stores for whatever target they have built to, enabling GM:S users to bring their games to market far more easily. YoYo Games could have their own store, and GM:S users who have accounts with other app stores could connect their accounts to their YYG Store account, which would enable them to submit their games to the other stores very easily.
Shortly after posting my idea, YYG CTO Russell Kay commented “Squirrel!” — which, apparently, means that I’ve suggested something that YYG has plans to do.
I’m not sure how much of the above ideas they are working on, or how closely what they are working on will resemble what I’ve outlined above, but it’s extremely exciting to think that this may be coming at some point in the indefinite future.
Anything that makes it easier and cheaper for a game developer to bring their products to market — without having to handle all the other aspects of running a business — makes it possible for small studios to compete and do business and make money without having to grow and support a full staff in order to handle these functions internally.
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I balked at the idea of a subscription service for GameMaker when GMB posted their poll on the topic. If it included a cross-platform build service it, would be a far more interesting and enticing prospect.
It certainly would be a valuable service worth paying for. I am really looking forward to seeing when it will be announced officially.