Tablets push Android gaming at GDC 2012

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple attempted (again) to steal the thunder of whatever was going on at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco by announcing the new iPad basically next door. But Apple’s wasn’t the only tablet in town last week.

Android tablets continue to expand as a sector of the market. While many are still struggling to find an identity or a market that lets them compete on the same level as Apple’s juggernaut device, game developers aren’t waiting around for device makers to figure out their business before creating some exciting new titles for Google’s Android operating system.

Spacetime Studios to offer Dark Legends

One exciting title that was shown off at GDC 2012 was the latest mobile massively multiplayer offering from Spacetime Studios. The creator of Pocket Legends and Star Legends has garnered a community of millions of players with its free-to-play MMO titles, which are mobile takes on the popular genre that spawned World of Warcraft. Already a staple on Android devices as well as Apple’s iOS platform, Spacetime’s next title will hit Android first.

Specifically, in fact, Dark Legends – a more adult, vampire-themed MMO from Spacetime – will make its way to Amazon’s Kindle Fire for two weeks before it launches on other devices, as Massively reports. Dark Legends is bloodier and dispenses (somewhat) with Spacetime’s trademark cartoonish style, but sounds like it will otherwise hew close to the formula set down with the game’s other titles: a small-scale MMO experience akin to what players can get on PC, but with a deep and lush world and a big community of players. Spacetime’s Star Legends played great on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 even back when the game was in beta last year, and Spacetime has a history of doing solid work in the Android space.

Sega has big plans with Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Sega also was on-hand at GDC to show off its plans for its games on Android tablets. Earlier this year, the developer showed off its work porting Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which it’s releasing episodically, to Android tablets sporting NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chip. Sega was on-hand to demo Sonic for conference attendees, along with lots of other titles the company intends to bring to the mobile space in the future. There should be plenty on offer from Sega before long.

Overall, the whole tablet market is continuing to expand at an incredible rate. As Gamerlive.tv reports, in terms of semiconductors, tablets are expected to be fourth-largest market for the components by 2014. In 2010, tablets were somewhere down near the no. 35 on the list. Meanwhile, smartphones are expected to draw the most semiconductors of any market by the end of this year, eclipsing PCs.

The expansion of the Android tablet market, coupled with the release of new devices carving out a niche, like the Kindle Fire, continues to suggest that Android gaming is only on the rise. Android definitely still has some catching up to do with Apple’s iOS platform and struggles with issues like fragmentation. But there’s plenty of reason for developers to keep bringing their games to Android because the device market is going to keep pushing into new territory in the future.