As we know, Pokémon GO is the hottest app since Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga. We also know that Windows Phone is overlooked by almost every game developer and publisher. Why, though, are the chances of seeing a Pokémon GO Windows Phone version so unlikely even as owners sign a petition to get the app ported?
Let’s face it, Windows Phone is struggling to hold third place in the Smart Phone OS market barely beating out Blackberry but way behind iOS and Android. While the low percentage market share, the numbers still add up but usually not enough to cause developers to rethink their platform choices.
In addition to the low market share Windows Phone has compared to iOS and Android, the cost of making a new version for the number of players would be pretty prohibitive. Not only is there the cost of developing the app, there is the cost of updating an additional version and additional server load. Pokémon GO hasn’t had the most stable servers thanks to the sheer number of players, adding more probably isn’t high on Niantic Labs’ requests right now.
Google’s feud with Microsoft
Google has a major dislike of Windows Phone, so much so that not only does it not support apps on the devices it goes out of its way to stop other apps that use its services from working. The reason why Google won’t support the device could stem from Eric Schmidt’s history with Microsoft. Having worked at both Sun Microsystems and Novell, he has been through previous competition with the software giant and seems to hold a grudge.
Also, Google being Google they want user data. With Microsoft having matching and often better versions of the same things Google has, the ability for them to pull that data from Windows Phone users isn’t high unlike users on Android where they pull all the data they want and iOS where Apple doesn’t have a lot of competing services. That allows Google to have a good reach into Apple device owners data.
When Google purchased GPS social travel app Waze, it immediately pulled all support for the Windows Phone version. When Microsoft made a YouTube app to replace the official one when Google pulled out, Google took steps to block the API preventing the app from working. Microsoft later updated the app which now runs similar to the website.
So why does this affect a Pokémon GO Windows Phone version when it isn’t made by Google? Pokémon GO is developed by Niantic Labs, the developers of Ingress and a company born out of Google. While Niantic may not have problems with Windows Phone, the games it makes use Google Maps and there is the problem. There is no reason why Google would allow Google Maps to be used on Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft’s own support and promotion of Windows Phone
While Microsoft wanted to get into the Smart phone arena, it has never really put its weight behind the idea. Yes it purchased Nokia but having hardware is not what makes a thriving system, apps are. Microsoft has struggled to give app developers a reason to release their titles on the phone. Those that do get released from companies like Electronic Arts are often released and then abandoned with little or no updates and definitely not in line with iOS and Android counterparts. This basically turns the Marketplace into a location where third party apps go to die. A few exceptions exist, of course, Game Troopers and Gameloft are a couple of developers that keep delivering.
Microsoft doesn’t really know what it wants from the Window Phone. Initially, it was going all out by buying Nokia and Lumia was going to be its flagship device brand. Recently Microsoft has turned its back on hardware development for phones. The news will have you believe that Microsoft has turned its back on Windows Phone as a whole, how true this has yet to be seen. Right now Windows Phone 10 is still getting system updates and SOME app updates. While iOS and Android had Minecraft Realms announced for Pocket Editions, Windows Phone was mysteriously left off the list. For a game owned by Microsoft and developed by a Microsoft-owned company, this turn of events shows signs that the company isn’t taking its own system seriously anymore.
With the addition of UWP, perhaps things will change for the phone but it could also be too little too late.
On discussions around apps where Windows Phone owners ask when there will be a version for them, they are often faced with hostility from Android owners. This is unusual as Android owners have been through the exact same scenario when apps released only on iOS and there were many posts asking about an Android version only to be shot down by iPhone owners.
So, if like me, you tried the others and found yourself on Windows Phone and enjoying it more than the other two, don’t give up the fight to get Windows Phone recognised but Pokémon GO Windows Phone version might be a tougher fight than others.