Amazon nabs another huge gaming exclusive for its Appstore

by Phil Hornshaw

The Amazon Appstore has snagged yet another major game release for Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system, taking with it a two-week exclusive that is continuing to increase Amazon’s stock as a powerful dealer of apps.

The latest soldier to join Amazon’s (AMZN) ranks – kind of – is PopCap Games. The maker of such PC and iTunes App Store mega-hits as Bejeweled granted a two-week exclusive to Amazon for the Android release of Plants vs. Zombies. The game currently is $2.99, and began its life in the Amazon Appstore as its daily free offering on May 31. And it’s garnering a lot of press around the Internet.

Plants vs. Zombies and another game, Chuzzle, are the first PopCap offerings to make their way to Google’s platform. On the iPhone, Plants vs. Zombies has exploded in popularity in the last year, and remains at No. 27 app in the App Store even though it has been available for 16 months. Undoubtedly it has pulled in lots of cash for PopCap. In fact, Plants vs. Zombies is so popular, it also is available for PC on the Steam downloadable video game network and on can be purchased on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

For the next two weeks, at least, the revenue created by finally bringing the highly popular and hyped title to Android is going to Amazon instead of Google, however.

And this isn’t the first time. Amazon has actually been doing a great job of nailing exclusive offers and building a reputation among gamers especially. Every day, Amazon offers a new app entirely free, and these are usually big-name games. Amazon also nabbed an exclusive deal with Rovio Mobile for the release of Angry Birds Rio (with a time limit, similar to the Plants vs. Zombies release), and enjoyed a big boost to its store at the expense of Google’s Android Market. Other big game makers, such as Glu, have come out in support of the new Appstore as well.

The question is quickly becoming, “What is Google doing?” With the announcement of its Google Music service, Google is keeping up with Amazon in at least one department. But while the Android Market struggles to shore up issues with plagiarism and copyright, Amazon appears to be flourishing. That might not be the whole story. We’ve already seen reports that suggest the Amazon Appstore isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially for smaller developers, but the Android Market’s latest news has been about banning apps that let users play games (because of copyright issues with video game makers such as Sega), while Amazon’s headlines are about big titles coming to its store, and for free.

It appears that Google isn’t too worried about Amazon, but if more huge developers are showing preference to the online retailer, perhaps Google should be.