Amazon Launches GameCircle
JULY 11, 2012 • Moving to make its Kindle Fire tablet platform a more accessible and friendly destination for game playing, Amazon.com launched a new service called GameCircle. Kindle owners now have access to new features such as achievements, leaderboards, and cloud-based sync between Kindle devices that saves gameplay progress that can be made available to separate Kindles. More social features are to be added later. Also released were a series of APIs to help game developers quickly and easily integrate their games with GameCircle.
Impact: From a fully consumer perspective, GameCircle will definitely make the Kindle Fire a more accessible platform for games. The Fire has always had the potential to be a strong game platform with such competitive pricing, placing Amazon in a good position to become a leader in the market with their expertise as a distributor/marketer IF they could actually focus on games. One thing the Android marketplace lacks has been the ability to effectively direct users to game content. Amazon has great experience in directing users to media content that appeals to individual consumers. DFC is bullish on Amazon’s potential to take a leadership position in the tablet game market, if they should so choose. At the Gamesbeat conference analyst panel on July 10, DFC president David Cole argued that 1) having a leader in game markets is important and the Android marketplace needs such a leader, 2) a relatively closed ecosystem would really help the market for Android products and 3) Amazon could be the one to develop such a system and take a leadership role. GameCircle is evidence that Amazon is heading in that direction.
Where Amazon’s play gets sticky is with developers. Many are put off that the online retailer reserves the right to set discount prices on their content, and thus they want to avoid Amazon as a distribution partner. While making these APIs available is a good move, Amazon still has a job to do to convince more game studios that its consumer reach outweighs cutting developers net. However, when it comes to distribution, in the end the power is in the hands of the party that can drive sales.