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The Sims FreePlay expected on Android this month

by Kristen Nicole

The Android platform is beginning to really prove itself in the gaming sector, but given our growing world of connected devices, the Android Market is really just the tip of the iceberg. Game publishers recognize that the consumer’s desire for on-demand gaming presents an opportunity for cross-device networks, and big players like EA and Gameloft are taking matters into their own hands.

EA’s hoping to keep up with the mobile sector’s rapid growth, likening its plans with online gaming platform Origin to that of Apple iTunes or Amazon’s online storefront. They’re looking for a direct route to the consumer, transitioning to a world of software downloads that have become so prevalent in the mobile world. They’re cutting out the middle men, reducing costs and carving out distribution channels across existing platforms, a very important one being Android’s OS.

Sharpening their focus on Android, EA is taking cues from other game publishers like Kongregate that recognize the opportunity in being their own “middle man” for mobile software. While EA has revealed few details regarding their game plan for Android releases, it’s expected that The Sims FreePlay will hit the Market sometime this month.

Gameloft LIVE! in the Android Market

Gameloft has also soft-launched its Xbox-style social service, called Gameloft LIVE!. Available in the Android Market, you’ll be able to socialize around your games, inviting friends to an ongoing game, send messages and chat in real time. You get a custom avatar, you can share your scores and earn virtual currency to be redeemed in other games. The hub also provides direct access to Gameloft titles. It’s a natural progression for Gameloft, which started their mobile distribution through direct access only. Warming up to the Android Market, Gameloft’s now competing with other socially-driven game networks like Papaya that established their platforms in Android’s early days.

Android games on TV

And moving beyond smartphones and tablets, Unity3D looks to connected televisions for extended Android game distribution. Teaming with LG, Unity3D delivers several of its titles, including Frisbee Forever and Shadowgun, to the LG Smart TV (which supports GoogleTV). Given Google’s own plans for connected televisions, they’ll become a home-centric branch for Android distribution, and the Android Market and other publisher-powered game stores will in many ways take over the game console, stirring up more trouble for Sony, Microsoft, Sega and Nintendo. The upside? Sony and Microsoft have both initiated mobile platform strategies for their future distribution goals through Android.