(This is a guest post by Michael Heller from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)
Android has been much maligned for its lack of quality games and top tier game developers compared to iOS, but it looks to finally be hitting its stride. Even as I’ve been writing this column, exciting news has been breaking.
OpenFeint, the original social gaming platform for the iPhone, recently announced their plans to join the Android world. It offers gamers a number of features including achievements, leaderboards, easy access to friends and, according to their website, “awesome sauce”. OpenFeint is already available on seven games through the Android Market, including newly released Fruit Ninja, and will be available on 20 games within the next month, with updates to currently available games like Super KO Boxing 2, as well as more new releases.
Hot on the heels of the OpenFeint announcement has come news that ngmoco, makers of Rolando and We Rule, is looking for Android game testers. Even Playstation is looking for engineers with “Android experience”, although it seems unlikely that Playstation would be preparing to develop Android games since they still have their own PSP platform, and PSP2 has been reported to be in the hands of developers. At the least this may verify the rumors of a PSPGo/Android phone by Sony Ericsson, but some kind of interaction between PSP and Android seems possible.
Joining in on Android praise is the new CFO for Electronic Arts (EA), Eric Brown, who has been quoted as saying, “So I think there’s a lot to happen in the future in Android, and we’re trying to position our mobile business to take advantage of that trend.” Brown, however, is still holding some reservations due to the problems of the Android Market, stating that Google still needs to release an “[Apple] App Store equivalent for the Android operating system.” As I’ve written before, Google’s missteps with the Market may be pushing away developers, something Google cannot afford to do with a company as influential as EA.
Finally, there are rumors of the Unreal 3 Engine coming to Android gaming. To be clear, the Unreal Engine hasn’t been officially announced, but with id posting jobs for Android programmers, it looks to be just around the corner. Android phone hardware has been continuously improving, but current games aren’t capitalizing on the power available in Android phones. With the Unreal Engine, Android developers can finally take full advantage of current hardware.
Given the inclusion of casual games, massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, emulators, big name publishers, and the promise of more hardcore games using the Unreal Engine, it sounds like we are finally reaching the tipping point. There are still some issues to be ironed out, especially with the Market, but the future is looking very bright for Android gaming.
References: Droid Gamers, Gamasutra, Playstation Jobs, Industry Gamers, Engadget, Gamasutra, Droid Forums, Droid Gamers, ZeniMax