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Game publishers and platforms flock to Android

by Kristen Nicole

PopCap is one of the few game distributors lacking a presence on Android, so it’s thrilling to hear that some of their biggest games, including Plants vs Zombies, are expected to hit the Android Market within a few weeks. A tweet last night from PopCap Games promises an Android version of the popular title to be released in the “first half of 2011.” That doesn’t leave much time for PopCap, which has already seen great success on iOS. It’s also the first definitive slot PopCap has put on its Plants vs Zombies Android release, upgrading from the more vague description of “sometime soon.”

Acquisitions and marketing success

PopCap isn’t the only game publisher seeking expansion across the Android Market. EA Interactive has indicated its intention to acquire mobile game publisher Firemint. The development team behind favorites including Flight Control and Real Racing, Firemint has carved a niche around action-packed games. This would mark the latest major buy towards EA’s Android efforts, which encompasses the Chillingo acquisition last year, and the Mobile Post Production deal.

The broader platform approach has also proven successful for game publishers, with Glu reporting revenue growth of 98 percent quarter-over-quarter. “Our 3D social mobile games strategy continued to gain traction in the first quarter with non-GAAP smartphone revenues increasing 98 percrnt sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2010 to $6.7 million,” stated Niccolo de Masi, Chief Executive Officer of Glu. The company reports 20 million installs during Q1 alone, with Glu’s Android market penetration driving game downloads.

As game developers must become more competitive to stand out on the Android Market, a variety of marketing tactics are being deployed. Namco Bandai is having a sale this weekend, slashing the price on a number of its Android games, including the Pac-Man series and More Brain Exercise. The sale runs Friday through Monday, May 9th. View the complete list here.