Mobile gaming seems to hold all the promise of marketing, direct sales and a new direction for social networking. It's no wonder Google has set aside time and money for development around Android's potential as a gaming platform, from its investment in Zynga to other acquisitions around virtual credits and social transaction apps.
Major game developers, too, see dollar signs in mobile gaming, leveraging the Android OS for distribution and as an extension of their own platforms. Here are some of their best Android efforts so far.
Gameloft is in a realm all its own, having branched its Android games away from the market, for direct download. The added measure is worth it, as Gameloft has upgraded many of its premium titles to HD. Asphalt 5, for instance, now races in hi-def. Steer your phone to drive your racer, playing other gamers in real time.
EA Games has a heavy presence on the iPhone, but is growing in the Android market as well. From Bejeweled to Tetris, you'll find a handful of EA Games to choose from. My favorite is Sims 3 at $6.99, which gives me a mobile fix for my god-complex when I can't get to the computer. Expect more titles from EA, as the developer pushes for another wave of releases.
Glu has several great titles you're already familiar with, like Diner Dash. With its own games and several distribution partnerships, Glu is able to bring Bonsai Blast to the Android market, free as well. Similar to Zuma, you must eliminate balls of the same color before the chain reaches the end of the maze.
SGN has also found its way to Android, launching Skies of Glory over the summer. Set in the war-torn skies of WWII, your mission is to lead your team to victory, winning dogfights against enemy planes. The $4.99 game brings online, live gameplay, supporting multi-player missions between iPhone and Android players.
In need of a mafia game? Try Mobsters: Big Apple, by Playdom. The free game is the top-ranking title from Playdom in the Android market. The story line on this one can get pretty involved, with more than 65 criminal missions, and plenty of cars and weapons to buy and collect. Link your Mobsters game from Facebook to use existing credits.
Bubble up some chain reactions with Magma Mobile's latest release, Bubble Blast 2. The free puzzle game is one where you burst bubbles to trigger chain reactions, using a bit of planning to clear the colorful board. The new title has two game modes, including a free-for-all arcade option. Scoreloop integration adds a social network for sharing high scores and more.
Natural Motion Games has brought a number of accelerometer titles to Android, including Backbreaker Football. Fitting for the fall sports fan, the $2.99 arcade-style game is in 3D for full effect. This developer is really looking to indulge in the Android experience, making activity-oriented and graphics-rich games for newer devices.
Marketing games on Android also means having a platform. GetJar is making game access and interaction easy, with a gateway for testing full versions of premium Android games. The titles are free for two weeks, and don't require registration. It's a great way to avoid unnecessary spending, and becomes an advertising channel for developers.
OpenFeint's groundbreaking game platform is leveling the playing field between Android and iPhone gamers — literally. Days after launch, a number of games already support the new software, landing four games in the Android market's top 15. Fruit Ninja is one, where the goal is to slice as many flying food objects as possible. Fruit Ninja costs 99 cents.