Android Market missing out on game marketing, others fill the gap

by Kristen Nicole

Games have become an integral part of the Android experience, benefiting gamers, developers and Android alike. But as the rivalry between Android and iOS heats up, and third party marketplaces emerge as alternative portals for Android apps, Android games become an important experiment in software marketing and distribution. From fragmentation issues on Android’s operating system to disappointing restrictions on app publishing in the Android Market, game developers have a lot to consider as they hope to monetize their efforts on the Android platform.

Android Market pricing fail

Some interesting pricing rules have been uncovered in the Android Market, disabling developers from charging fees on an app that’s been set as a free product. This means developers can’t have one-day sales on apps, or run a promotion for a new app before making it paid. It’s no wonder you see multiple versions of a given app in the Android Market -- what a confusing demonstration for end users. Game developers in particular may find this Market rule frustrating, as marketing an Android game has become a difficult and disparate experience.

Rivals rule with promos

Not only is the Android Market less structured in terms of promotions when compared to the iTunes App Store, but independent marketplaces are taking advantage of the Market’s shortcomings. The Amazon Appstore, for instance, has made app promotions central to its strategy in gaining users, often offering full version games for free download. GetJar has turned into another important gaming portal, running similar promotions for Android games. Both the Amazon Appstore and GetJar have landed exclusive Android game launches, with publishers waiting several days to make their game available on the Market after a promotion has run its course.

As Appolicious Advisor Marty Gabel points out in his article on the Android Market’s questionable pricing rule, this is holding back Google in the end. The gap is opening up a range of opportunities for third-party services to monetize games, through redeemable codes, in-app purchases or other incentives. Adknowledge, the company behind Super Rewards, recognizes that relying on a single portal is a drawback for game developers, and has launched Social2Web for social game developers looking to expand beyond networks like Facebook. Combining the best of all worlds, Social2Web becomes an agnostic approach to game distribution, across mobile or the web.