How much does Free Beer cost?

You might have heard the sentence "Free as in Beer", I could never get the idea behind that, anyways assuming that the developers that came up with that got that right, the next point is How much does that free beer cost?

This one is a short rant on how I feel the direction being taken by Ansca with CoronaSDK is *unethical* and wrong. Well, there is never anything wrong with being in business and making money. However...

Off Late, if anyone has been on the forums, it seems that the tone from Ansca has been that of *Not our problem* or they have even started to direct users to a Paid service to look at their code ( ) this is charged at $750 for 5 hours @$150/hour, they will respond within 3 working days and will help troubleshoot and/or provide code samples (from the vast library already available) and if anyone wants a code review, then they need to pay $1125 for 5 hours (@$225 per hour) for app debugging and code review.

They have also been quite candid to be blunt and suggest that alternatively if someone cannot afford this, they can make a thread in the Developer Support to ask the community to check it and respond. This is *unethical* in my books as the company that makes money should support their product. For example there are issues with their masking and routines, now for them to look into their own buggy software, a user should not be paying them high rates.

The other side of the issue here is that the community is being taken for a ride, while they are helping out the users with their code, etc either as Fanboys or as knowledgeable techies for FREE, Ansca makes their reputation that it has a strong community base. There is hardly any help from Ansca, if someone wants specific assistance, it is *CHARGEABLE* @ 150-225 / hour purchasable in slots of 5 hours.

All good things come to an end, it seems like the days when Ansca was more *community* based is over, they have shifted gears into being the ones interested in *money, money, money*.

I must admit that the only reason that I am still with CoronaSDK is that it *IS* the easiest to use framework as of today, I can tell you that this is about to change soon. There are some happenings that will change the dynamics and monopoly. There are times when I find myself faced with frustration using CoronaSDK because it seems like how demo softwares work, you can create stuff but cannot save. CoronaSDK offers everything just to the point where you have to just give up on it because it falls short on something.

The code works fine in the simulator, the moment it is ported to a device, NADA!! It does not work.

Look at iCodify, it was released and it allowed execution on the iPad, within about a few weeks of release, there were samples that pushed the limits of the application. A lot of *known* developers have been tempted and are using it for Prototyping their new games. Corona is easy to use etc, but the uptake or the user demographics have been different. There have been very few *professional* developers that have moved to CoronaSDK. The majority of the users that have shifted to this platform are ex-GameSalad users looking for something as easy and little more powerful. The other category of users have been Flash Developers looking at breaking into the mobile platforms. There is nothing wrong in being in either of this category, but the point it that this has been the first point of contact, which means they have not had a look at other options. Beginners would jump at heresay, I know as I see the little ones in school use Scratch, they feel that *if* they had something better they could make games. Ansca has done a good job at marketing and getting the word spread in the market, so when someone talks about easy to use... CoronaSDK comes up as an option. Is that really easy for a beginner? That is an entirely different question.

Here are my list of peeves with CoronaSDK

1. They charge for their errors and expect the community to do it for FREE
2. When the features available in the Stable version do not work, it i a big problem
3. Starting up Corona Simulator checks for connectivity, this restricts working on the road, specially for those that are *not* in the US of 'WiFi-ed' A
4. Compiling is a process where one has to connect to the Ansca Servers, this is again restrictive when on the road.
5. When trying to debug something and it has to be deployed on the xCode simulator or the device for the features not available on the simulator, it is more tedious and lengthy than using xCode which compiles natively on the Mac system.
6. Ansca sells time bound usage of their servers to compile code via their licenses. There is nothing that one would own. So if a developer created a game and compiled it and did not have any changes for a year so let the subscription lapse, now there is a requirement to update the app, they have to purchase the license again. This is a bit wrong, after all the user had purchased the license and *compiled* that particular game. So not having anything even after paying for a license is a model that is wrong.
7. The users are reduced to begging for the basic features that should be present and do not take much to be included.

It would be nice, but we do not live in a fair world, do we? it is almost a monopoly, take it or leave it is the attitude that Ansca is demonstrating off late.

So the question is while we do save time and work with an easy to use framework, does it really save us time and efforts? Agreed that there are some things that are made easy with CoronaSDK, that is specially due to the fact of using Lua that manages most of the Memory Management, Objective-C/xCode now has ARC which is kind of similar. However if one wants to use the pure sheer performance of Objective-C and Lua, then there are options like toLua, toLua++, Wax to name a few. There are other frameworks like Gideros, Moai, Kobold2D that are Lua based. So unless Ansca really pull up their socks and get things working well, as from what I see, I am seeing a falling/failing system. it seems it has reached its peak potential and now everything else is being duct-taped onto it. There is no scarcity of fanboys that will post We love you Corona or We love you Ansca for no apparent reason. When faced with real developmental issues, let us look at it objectively and ask ourselves, What is the *Price* of FREE BEER? What have we saved? Can the code we write be usable in a few years down the line? If Ansca start to change in excess of $1000 and users stop the subscription, can their code be usable on any other platform? Or it is going to be a dead end. So what might seem like a good thing today, is it really a good thing in the long run? The Flash in the pan developers would not even realise what this is about, those serious (not the ones with an Office job and looking at Mobile development as a part-time hobby) developers that have a career/business on mobile apps cannot rely for long on the uncertainties and the business model that Ansca have at the moment. There needs to be some sort of change, the build server needs to be local and the license to cover the lifetime of the user, they can be denied further daily builds, but the build server must atleast be provided to the developers.

Rather than get caught into a repetitive rant, I will leave this for the readers to determine and relate with the facts.

Secondly, the world is based on capitalism, and as they say when you can't beat them, join them. Expecting that Ansca will from the kindness of their hearts offer support to the community and licensed developers when the problems are because of bugs in their codebase is next to impossible, so I guess I would do the next best thing join them. Not as in WORK for them, join them as in offer similar services.

Ansca Staff have been providing paid services (privately) for a long time now, the users have been paying that thinking that this would be official Ansca help, anyways, if you are interested in Code Reviews, Code Samples, Debugging, you can look at alternatives from OZApps. We shall offer you the same services and at reasonable prices. I am sure that the few users that have utilised these services in the past can provide testimonial for the same.

you can get in touch with your projects/questions on dev [AT] oz-apps [DOT] com


  1. I feel somewhat similar on this topic, I do not make many games, but have to pay Ansca, then other 3rd party apps, so before I start I have a lot of expenses. To learn corona, I saw that Ansca has offered Ansca University, something that they should have introduced long ago and for free. I don't know if at the end of it all, I can afford to be a developer with Ansca tools.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts