Just wondering, but can anyone explain why development on the GP32 died so fast?
I don't know - I don't think anyone really does, and likeWhizzBang, I find it puzzling. However, I'd speculate that it had something to do with the GP2x being a friendlier dev environment (specifically, SDL boosted the dev cycle a LOT, and Linux meant there were a lot of direct dealings with the hardware that you didn't need to worry about), and, crucially, the GP32 not having (as I recall) decent SDL support (or Linux) at the time. I think there was some, but iirc it wasn't complete or wasn't easy to use or just wasn't very good.
So, you have devs starting to develop on the GP2x using a library that wasn't available on the GP32, and thus would require significant work to backport it. That explains lack of backports.
It does not explain why games that were in development at the time didn't continue to be developed and subsequently released - assuming they already compiled on the GP32, it makes little sense to convert the codebase to 2x and completely stop work on the GP32 version. One hypothesis that deals with this is that there weren't many things being developed for the GP32 at the time. I doubt this is correct - releases existed for the GP32 right up until the release of the GP2x, and it seems odd to have such a clean transition.
I think the explanation I'll posit - which isn't going to be fully satisfactory - is that devs were getting bored with the GP32. Perhaps the fun wasn't there. Don't forget that the GP32 wasn't only haemorrhaging devs to the GP2x. The PSP had *just* had it's firmware cracked (as far as I can find, around August 2005, which places the event almost exactly as the first GP2xes were shipping). And the DS was surprising people the world over by being fun as opposed to gimmicky. There were quite a number of new devices out there, all waiting developing on, and all with exciting different potentials.
In addition, something I've noticed over the last few years, whilst the number of active devs as a whole in this community is HUGE, the number of active devs at any one time (say, who make releases in a three month period), excluding competitions, is probably "only" around 20-30. When you're dealing with that kind of number, you don't need to lose many for a very perceptible decrease in releases.
And then comes the next effect: decrease in releases leads to decrease in users (who can, on the same site, see just how active the GP2x is at present, and are buying them very quickly indeed), and decreases in users leads to decreases in posts. Decreases in posts means decreases in perceived audience, and (here's the crucial bit again) why shout in the face of a gale? Or rather, why release your game for the GP32, where it'll get a couple of comments about how great it is and how GP32 development isn't dead yet, when you can release it for the GP2x and have significantly more people - who currently don't have much to play - reply about how great it is. (As an aside, I'll admit that this is not born out as much by the facts as I'd expected - the release thread
for Tilematch, one of the best early releases for the GP2x only has 20 or so responses, which is surprising to me - so the argument is possibly not as strong as it might be. But I can't recall any contemporary GP32 releases to compare response with - comparisson might indicate that the argument can yet survive). Anyway, lack of perceived audience reduces the inclination (I expect) to dev for a system.
Note that all of this is speculation, but I think it's fairly thorough speculation, and probably fairly close to the truth.