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Tapjoy invests in 130 Android game makers; Kinect plus ICS hits the big screen

by Kristen Nicole

The Android gaming scene continues to gain recognition, attracting more developers, publishers and cash. Mobile ad network Tapjoy said today that its $5 million Android Fund has invested in 130 game developers in just the past few months. The fund offers expertise and capital to developers in order to port their existing apps to the fast-growing Android platform. With hundreds of applicants seeking support from the fund, Tapjoy’s got quite a success on its hand. Its Android network has grown for approximately 170,000 monthly active users in January 2011 to over 25 million in December. Tapjoy has Android to thank for the boom in users, with a shift in strategy after Apple cracked down on incentive-based programs.

Kongregate is also growing its Android gaming network, releasing its first indie action title / Escape \. In this game you’re a ninja, jumping between two walls while avoiding electrical fences and a determined laser beam. Originally a free Flash game on Kongregate, the mobile version comes with leaderboards, achievements and integration with Kongregate’s Serious Street Card service, earning badges and GameStop rewards.

New ways to play

As more publishers bring their games to Android’s platform, others in the gaming industry look to expand games beyond the handset. Gameloft has added voice chat to their games via LTE networks, enabling players to talk to one another during gameplay. The feature was demoed at CES this year, running on Asphalt 6 over Verizon’s 4G LTE network, and we’ll soon see these chatting capabilities integrated into other titles. It will initially be an Android exclusive for 4G LTE networks, due to the bandwidth that voice chat will eat up. No details on when game chat will be available in Gameloft’s other titles, though it’s expected to have widespread roll out later this year.

And tying-in with a rival gaming system, a recently discovered Kinect hack will bring your Android games to the big screen. Going by the handle DDRBoxman, someone found a way to connect his Android Galaxy Nexus phone projector to Microsoft’s open-source Kincect platform for Windows PC to create a custom ROM that mapped out the phone interface to Kinect sensors. It’s one of the cooler mashups we’ve seen for Android lately, and really leverages the spirit of Kinect hacks. Imagine what this means for the future of integrated gaming systems, where Android could become central to a console or home entertainment experience!