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Android games get a boost with ICS update, Qualcomm app

by Kristen Nicole

Mobile gaming has really taken off, and its hurting the major console brands in the process. A recent report from Flurry estimates that games released on Android and iOS will make around $1.9 billion in combined revenues in the US this year. That’s more revenue than Nintendo DS and Sony PSP games combined. Nintendo’s likely to get hit the hardest. It had a 70 percent market share in 2009, easily fending off the mobile sector’s 19 percent share. But by 2010, Android and iOS took a threatening 34 percent of the market, and will have a full 58 percent by the end of this year. Nintendo, on the other hand, has been reduced to 36% market share. Sony’s PSP story is even more dismal, but at least Sony Ericsson has begun its efforts around mobile OS gaming with the Android-powered Xperia PLAY.

Google’s latest Android version is a promising update for Sony’s Xperia line, as the company confirmed the PLAY and other Xperia devices will receive the Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) update. The source code for Android 4.0.1 was unveiled a few days earlier than the rumored release date, rolling out to developers just a day ago. Many are anxious to implement Android 4.0 across devices and applications, and Sony noted that their entire line of Xperia devices will receive ICS once they’ve completed merging their extra services. This includes the Xperia Arc and Arc S, the Xperia PLAY, the Xperia Neo and Neo V, amongst others.

High end chip makers show off supported games

The Xperia PLAY and other high-end Android devices have become attractive portals for game publishers, many targeting serious gamers with exclusive or early releases. But these specialized Android handsets have also contributed to the sea of consumer gadgets that work differently and run varied specs. It’s a cumbersome task, finding the apps that are supported on a given Android device, and Qualcomm’s hoping to make things a little easier for its customers.

Qualcomm just announced the Game Command app, which will provide a filtered list of games that are guaranteed to work on Android handsets boasting Qualcomm’s powerful chips. It’s a continuation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Game Pack launched over the summer, with more games that are specifically optimized for just that device using Game Command. It’s Qualcomm’s way of filling in some of the Android Market’s gaps, similar to NVIDIA’s Tegra Zone that spotlights games for its Tegra 2-powered handsets.

Glu Mobile for Kindle Fire

Speaking of specialized devices, Glu Mobile is looking to the recently launched Kindle Fire to push its social mobile game platform. Several of its freemium games, including Bug Village, have been optimized for the Android-powered Kindle Fire, where they will also supplement the limited Appstore offerings as part of Amazon’s growing software market. Glu Mobile already had a presence in Amazon’s Appstore, and the Kindle Fire launch merely extends the mobile audience, always ripe for a game or two.