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Android’s booming gamer industry hatches new markets

by Kristen Nicole

Android games continue to be a popular category as far as mobile apps go, topping the charts in July’s Mobile Mix report, released by Millennial Media this morning. It’s a trend that’s remained unchanged for a year now, as games trumped all other mobile app categories in July 2010 as well. And with Android beating out iOS as the most popular platform in Millennial’s mobile ad network at 48 percent, it’s games that are driving the majority of application ad spending, taking up 34 perecent of the market. Growing 35 percent month-over-month, games now represent 29 percent of all app impressions for July, proving that this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Sony Ericsson promos Minecraft Xperia PLAY

It’s no wonder companies like Sony Ericsson continue to push niche products like the Xperia PLAY, as this Android-powered gaming phone continues to spawn a mobile market all its own.  Sony Ericsson’s currently running a promo to give away a special edition Xperia PLAY sporting a Minecraft skin, appealing to an already geeked-up gamer demographic. Minecraft’s mobile version was only released last week, marking a new era for existing fans and mobile gamers alike. The popular indie game They Need to be Fed has also been updated with Xperia PLAY support, along with two new levels. The title from YoYo Games is seeking widespread appeal, as it’s also been optimized for additional Android handsets and tablets.

As the mobile gaming culture and the Xperia PLAY continue their parallel growth, the sector gains international traction across the entire industry. The UK in particular is picking up on mobile gaming trends, with games like Pocket Legends launching Xperia PLAY support for this audience. UK carrier Vodafone has also extended its billing deal with Google, ensuring it can capture some of the Android Market sales that largely revolve around gaming and entertainment apps. As Android games provide a perfect segue for in-app purchases, we’re sure to see more development in this area. In the US, all the major carriers have Android billing integration, making it easier than ever to thoughtlessly spend money on mobile apps.

Mobile gaming beyond the screen

From specialized devices to international waters, mobile gaming is an industry stretched far and wide. But a report from Latitude predicts that games will continue to evolve beyond the screen. Mobile gaming in particular has enabled users to play in varied environments, sprouting new opportunities for engagement. The report cites apps like Foursquare and SCVNGR as bridges to new forms of mobile gaming in the real world. Augmented reality is another important aspect of this virtual/offline blend, remaking the gaming experience and their environment as well.