Android game startup Bionic Panda raises funds, sees future in microtransactions

by Kristen Nicole

Android is an increasingly popular platform for the gaming industry, even attracting interest from venture capitalists. Bionic Panda Games is the latest startup to receive funding, with seed financing from SoftTech VC, Norwest Venture Partners, Google Ventures, 500 Startups and angels Craig Sherman and Kal Vepuri. Bionic Panda has proven successful with the hit game Aqua Pets, reaching more than 3 million downloads as a top-grossing app in the Android Market. Founders Charles Hudson and Mike Jimenez know all about emerging game industries, hailing from another game startup Serious Business, the company behind Friends for Sale, which later went on to be acquired by Zynga.

When it comes to Android, Bionic Panda became successful with free-to-play microtransaction games. They’ve limited their advertising efforts, leveraging Android’s multiple options for game distribution. Bionic Panda is focusing on Android at the moment, anticipating even more opportunities for growth through additional Android channels such as the Kindle Fire tablet, which features Amazon’s Android app marketplace.

Out of This World coming to Android

While Bionic Panda revels in new-age game formats, DotEmu looks to Android as a platform for revival. The company has revealed its plans to bring the cult classic video game Another World to Android, celebrating the game’s 20th anniversary. Better known to US gamers as Out of This World, the Android edition will modernize the game with HD graphics and touch controls, along with remastered music, new sound effects and three difficulty levels. But don’t get too excited just yet – the game won’t be out for another few months.

Ion’s pocket-sized game controller

And as the Android gaming community continues to mature, we’re seeing more controllers enter the market. SteelSeries’ Ion is the latest. They’ve created a game controller sized to fit in your pocket. It features buttons with a layout similar to the PlayStation Dual Shock, with double joysticks, four face buttons, start, select and two shoulder buttons. The Ion comes with an Android app for customizing controls for individual games, and supports Bluetooth and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.