The core thesis behind Amazon’s gaming project Amazon Underground is to take the overt pain of free-to-play apps — specifically, when you are tempted to fork over the cash to make your castles build faster, help your party stronger or to just give you enough damn lives to solve level 181 — and magically make it accessible for users by bearing the cost of in-game purchases.
Of course, Amazon has used its immense power to simply shift the monetary transactions between game developer and user to game developer and Amazon itself. But in the two months since it has been available, the company announced today that has tripled the selection of titles available in the service.
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Amazon Underground does actually host some very well-known titles from major developers. Halfbrick has placed both ‘Fruit Ninja’ and ‘Jetpack Joyride’ on the Underground platform, while Rovio has five different titles to choose from (including ‘Bad Piggies’ and ‘Angry Birds: Space’). Amazon is also quick to point out that regular paid games are available on the service, the standout from that category being the critically successful ‘Monument Valley.’
The program’s library growth is a good sign, but it will be interesting to see whether it can entice other top-tier developers that make big bucks on in-app purchases to do business with Amazon.
So far, developers Supercell (responsible for the perennially popular ‘Clash of Clans’) and Electronic Arts (which has found success in mobile versions big titles like ‘Sim City BuildIt’ as well as licensed titles like ‘The Simpsons: Tapped Out) are the notable no-shows in the library, among others.
Will Amazon Underground catch on with owners of its tablets and, more broadly, the average Android user? Currently, owners of Android devices that aren’t necessarily Amazon-branded can sign up for the program and pay for games on the company’s dime. That library will be a key component in bringing those who don’t own Amazon hardware to become loyal.
It’s all a way for Amazon to finally establish itself as a reliable and enticing portal for games — something it very clearly missed the boat on as it still lags behind Google Play and the Apple App Store. Tossing a little cash around in service of gamers could accelerate that process.