I've noticed quite a few mobile games on the Android platform recently that prompt you to download their assets package when you first run the game. As an example, The Sims 3 is available for iOS and Android devices (Android Marketplace, Apple App Store) but the iOS version seems to be much larger in size and as such probably doesn't use this system.
I can think of several advantages and disadvantages to doing this:
Advantages (to developer):
- The game's store page reports the size of the app as much smaller than it is.
- When a patch or update is released you don't need to download the entire application again. (Does the App Store release patches, or do you need to download the whole app again)?
Disadvantages (to developer):
- You need to provide your own bandwidth and ensure download availability.
- You need to poll your server for updates in the assets and ensure that you make assets available for old versions of the game.
Advantages (to a consumer):
- You don't need to ensure you have space for app+assets before installing. Downloading the package manually means you can install the libs/logic/executable on your device and the assets on eternal storage such as SD card, rather than installing all to the device and moving afterwards.
- It could be possible to download lower resolution versions of the assets depending on install device (somewhat unnecessary for Android as the market provides a way of supplying different packages to different devices)
Disadvantages (to a consumer):
- More difficult for app to enforce that download is done over wifi rather than using up their contract bandwidth.
While I understand that direct comparisons of the two methods are difficult, I'm looking for statistics/reports preferably of the same app with control and sample groups. If that's not available, can anybody with experience with this method indicate whether users preferred not bundling assets? Does user opinion on this vary based on platform? Does the value to users outweigh the extra effort for the developer?