Android games saw plenty of holiday cheer

by Kristen Nicole

The holidays were kind to Android, but games in particular seemed to get all the goodies, or rather, games became the goodies for Android users around the world. Lurching birds were a popular gift this holiday season, as Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons saw 6.5 million downloads on Christmas Day alone, according to game-maker Rovio. That’s triple the amount of downloads Angry Birds saw in 2010. Android devices were a popular item for Christmas as well, as app downloads and device activations reached an all-time high over the holidays.

The surge in holiday mobile gaming may also have a dire effect on social gaming for online portals like Facebook. According to a report from AppData, there was a drop-off in Facebook gamers that affected nearly all developers across the board, including EA and Zynga, which both lost about 1 million users for top titles over the holiday. Mobile gaming is proving a viable competitor for traditional online gaming, and the massive increase in new devices and app downloads between Christmas and New Year indicates a growing interest in Android and iOS titles.

Sonic and Tequila are all for Android

Indeed, the mobile sector is becoming more attractive to game makers. SEGA has teamed up with NVIDIA for another Sonic title. Look for Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 to hit Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 devices in the near future. It’s the latest in a string of releases from the Sonic series, hot off the launch of Sonic CD for Android. SEGA’s interest in Android is rising rapidly, as the game distributor and console maker has been ramping-up its release schedule for Android-specific titles.

Investors are also seeing the benefits of Android as a lucrative avenue for the gaming industry. Polish mobile publisher Tequila Mobile is accelerating the roll out of its free-to-play platform Tequila Planet thanks to a $1.7 million financing round. Private investors in Poland and the UK are backing Tequila Mobile’s plans for an Android-driven social mobile gaming platform, with big ideas for Java as well. This gives Tequila Mobile, the company behind titles like Fantasy Kingdom Defense and Outlaw Racing 2011, a broader appeal to the mobile gaming space, tapping the world’s most pervasive mobile platform.