Android game market grows with rentals, new NVIDIA chipset

by Kristen Nicole

Android’s gaming ecosystem continues to blossom, from marketplaces to hardware. WildTangent has launched a new app rental service targeting social and casual gamers, offering a variety of free and rental titles to download. The gamer hub can be accessed through WildTangent’s new Android app, directing you to recommended and featured titles like Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The moneymaker for WildTangent is its virtual currency, which is used to purchase and rent games. Games are certainly going the route of music and movies, but the integration of virtual currency is a direct link between gamers, publishers and marketers. Several aspects of the gaming industry has taken to virtual goods, with complex systems for incentivizing gamers and squeezing more money out of them through games that are initially free. Tapjoy has seen quite a boom thanks to virtual goods, and DeNa’s virtual currency growth has helped the gaming publisher to post record results last quarter.

NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset is promising for gamings’ future

But virtual goods aren’t enough to reel in the gamers. Quality graphics and speedy gameplay are of increasing importance on mobile devices. NVIDIA unveiled its long-anticipated Tegra 3 processor this week, introducing the first quad-core chip designed specifically for mobile gadgets. It’s an ARM A9-based processor featuring a 12-core GeForce graphics unit. According to the company, the Tegra 3 offers three times the performance of its earlier dual-core Tegra line, with improvements in multitasking, web browsing and smoother app performance. And as far as Android devices go, NVIDIA is reportedly already working on two new powerful chipsets, codenamed Logan and Stark.

Game and handset makers ready for Tegra 3

It’s a great opportunity for the gaming community, as Tegra devices are considered the high-end handsets that draw in the top game developers. Capcom may already be working on a Tegra 3-optimized game. It hinted that it’s been testing Lost Planet 2 on a quad-core device. Capcom’s looking to boost its mobile gaming presence significantly to capture this next generation of gamers, having released the Smurfs' Village title earlier this year and plans for Street Fighter IV in the near future.

Already, Android manufacturers are readying for Tegra 3 devices, with HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola prepping for releases in the coming months. The HTC Edge, expected to drop in spring of 2012, will likely come with the new Tegra 3 quad-core chipset. Samsung, LG and Motorola have all confirmed their plans for Tegra 3, promising a competitive mobile scene for handsets next year.