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GameFly looking to launch Android app store, publish mobile games

by Phil Hornshaw

Get ready for another entry into the crowded mobile game market, this time from a somewhat unlikely source. GameFly, the U.S. rental outfit, wants to sell you Android games.

Those familiar with the world of video games will know about GameFly. When Netflix was rising to prominence with its DVD-mailing service, GameFly was a U.S. company that offered something similar, only with video games. It continues to offer a subscription rental service in which games are mailed to customers, played, and sent back, but according to a story from Pocket Gamer, the firm has just announced plans to start its own app store for Google’s Android operating system and means to publish mobile games for both Android and Apple’s iOS platform.

Just how the game market will work, GameFly hasn’t yet revealed, although the press release suggests it’ll be called “GameStore.” We do know that it’ll be curated and offer deals, much like Amazon’s store and Google Play.

As for publishing, GameFly says it has a fund set aside that it will use to help developers as they bring their games to market. The fund will be used for development costs as well as promotion once the games are done.

It’s always good to see new avenues for developers to help get their games made. In the mobile space, there are few major publishers, and many small developers turn to places such as Kickstarter in hopes of drumming up the capital they need to create their visions. Obviously, crowd funding can’t work for every game. Though high-profile titles such as Double Fine Adventure and République have found success with the service, there are plenty of other, smaller games that vanish into obscurity with failed Kickstarter campaigns.

So GameFly’s entry into the sphere could be very helpful to some developers, depending on the situation. Perhaps more interesting a question will be the usefulness of its GameStore app market. The Android sphere already has several viable app marketplaces, starting with Google Play and moving on to more independent stores such as GetJar. Do Android users really need another place to go look for apps?

The answer is probably a little of both yes and no. Google still struggles with issues of app discovery on its platform, and Google Play is a notoriously hard place to make money. Developers seem to have more luck on the Amazon Appstore, so it’s possible that GameFly’s GameStore will offer the same kind of alternative for developers. Helping devs make money means more devs making more games.

But at the same time, overcrowding the Android sphere with alternative stores can also cause things to get lost in the shuffle and further fragment the Android community. It’s not necessarily easier to find good games when you have to go searching through four or five different stores. We’ll have to wait and see just how GameFly intends to break into the market to see how its new app store will affect it.

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