The Android smartphone market has exploded with an increasing demand for games this winter season. Many new owners are looking at the Android market store for new games and apps. Many will be disappointed in what they find. While there are a large number of games available, many games available are either poorly designed or spyware. While there are some quality titles, for the most part this a noticeable lack of decent gaming titles for the Android market.
The Open Android Market
Google created the Android Market for anyone to publish games and apps without restriction. The outcome has been a huge explosion of available games in a short time period. The downside is that there are no real quality controls and many games being published are either potential privacy threats or unplayable due to poor design. While there are certainly some gems out there such as Angry Birds or Galcon, many of the games available simply leave a great deal to be desired.
Attractive to Privacy Violators
While one could argue that there are certain duds on other smartphone platforms, the Android Market seems to be especially attractive to people looking to make a quick buck. In the free games section, many games either seek out personal information or have spyware that seeks out information that can then be resold to other parties. Then there are ad supported games that do the same. New Android phone users may be amazed to read that there are more than a few games that require access to a phone’s personal contacts, personal information, and even the phone call directory. While many of the non-free games may lack these problems, the sense that there are many games are security and privacy threats is more than a little disconcerting.
Other games found in the Android market are in fact outright video game roms being emulated on the Android emulators. Many of these emulated games are from the old Super Nintendo video game system of the 1990s. Legally these game roms may or may not be in a shady area. Technically many of the games are difficult to play due to poor control design, lack of speed, and other problems. To make matters worse, the authors link in ads that often cut across the playing area of the screen, blocking activities.
Other games can be found
that either have a great premise or have nice looking graphics only to fail in the control department. To be fair, some of the Android games were developed for smartphones that have physical keyboards or keypads. However, many of the games that have control issues are designed for touch screen phones such as the Droid series. Even on a 1gh Droid X smartphone, there are games that have poor controls that lack adequate timing or are too slow to be playing.
Problems with the Android Market
Some of the problems can be laid at the feet of how the Android market runs. The lack of effective quality control or oversight means that there are no real measures to ensure that quality gaming titles reach the market.
Trip Hawkins wrote on the Blog Game Theory that there is also a problem with the return policy of the android market. According to Trip Hawkins, any game or app purchased has a return period of 24 hours. He goes on to state that this may help drive away potential game publishers from the Android market.
Poor Game Selection
Perhaps the final problem is a simple lack of actual games in many categories. There are some very good titles in the Android market but many are either puzzle type games or some type of card game. Whereas the iPhone, and iTouch for that matter, offers many gaming titles in each gaming genre, there are simply few to be found in the Android market.
One possible reason for the lack of titles might be the lack of mainstream game publishers producing games for the Android market. While EA has published several titles, most publishers have avoided producing games for the platform.
Several solutions come to mind that could improve the current Android gaming market. One solution would be to implement some type of quality control system. This need not be a draconian system. A point system could be created where titles could be rated based on their features and quality measures by users. Those games that receive higher ratings could then receive specific benefits such as higher exposure or placement in the listings.
Another possibility is implement a revolving door market where games that do not sell or are poorly rated are removed after a given period. The game publishers could then resubmit their games in an effort to address any quality or design problems. They would then be reviewed after the same period and either removed again or allowed to remain in the market.
Perhaps competition from the iPhone and Windows 7 phone markets might make Google change their policies. There are many benefits from promoting a gaming community on the Android OS and Google might be wise to keep an eye the gaming market for smartphones in general. While Microsoft is aggressively promoting their Windows 7 phone as a gaming platform, Google seems to be taking limited, hands off approach so far. However, if increased sales show up for competing platforms then Google may see a financial incentive to change the current market system.
Google has reported plans to push for a greater gaming market for the Android OS. With new versions being plan for the operating system, Google has also leaked out details for future reference designs for future smartphones using their Android OS. Future phones are expected to have dual core processors, GPU chips for 3d graphics, and more even features. Google clearly is not abandoning the gaming market for the Android market.
Many industry forecasters such as Trip Hawkins believe the eventually the Android OS may reach a parity with Apple’s iPhone app store and even surpass it. The increasing popularity of the Android smartphone is also bound to have an impact on game sales and downloads. If this is the case, then the future will look bright. However, if Google does not take some steps to coral in poorly designed titles in the Android Market, then growth may be limited. Customers may simply decide to use other platforms with better gaming titles.