Android and Me

The Gameloft Conspiracy: Why are the best Android games not found on the Android Market?

4 years ago 80

If you want to find the best 3D games for Android, don’t go looking in the official Android Market. French publisher Gameloft recently ported their 10 best selling iPhone games to Android (see video below), but you will only find a single one that made it to the Android Market (Asphalt HD).

So where is Gameloft hiding their Android HD games and what is keeping them off the Android Market?

The first part of that question is simple. If you want to purchase the Gameloft HD titles, you need to visit Gameloft.com and make your purchase through their site. My problem with that solution is that Gameloft’s store is hard to use, installs are limited to a single device, there is no system to update a game, and it’s a major pain to reinstall a game if you ever have to wipe your phone.

In the beginning, Gameloft limited you to a single download for any purchase you made through their store. We complained about this and Gameloft updated their store policies to allow users to re-download their purchases, but I have yet to get it working.

For starters, not all of my purchases are even listed on my Gameloft account and the ones that are, I have been unable to reinstall. Gameloft implemented some weird copy protection to limit game installs to a single device, but it actually blocks re-installing a game to the same device.

For example I purchased Modern Combat: Sandstorm and installed it to my Samsung Captivate. I later went ahead and wiped the phone and now when I try to launch the game after re-installing it, I am greeted with the error, “This is not an original copy”.

I could go on and on about my complaints with purchasing games from Gameloft, but my point is their store is still really new and it has a lot of issues.

The Conspiracy

So let’s return to the second part of my original question – Why is Gameloft keeping these HD titles off the official Android Market and away from potential customers?

We asked a Gameloft representative that question and they told us, “The Android platform is still rather new, (so) we are trying out different methods of distribution to see what works best.

After using both methods of distribution, it’s pretty clear the Android Market tops Gameloft’s web store in every way possible.

The Android Market allows me to instantly purchase and install the game on my phone, update the game when a new version comes out, install the game on any device with the same Google account, and allows me to reinstall any game with no issues. Gameloft can make none of those claims with their web store.

I understand trying out different distribution methods, but that still doesn’t explain why Gameloft just doesn’t do both and give their customers more choice when making a purchase. We know there are no technical barriers stopping them, because as we said earlier – they did release Asphalt HD to the Market.

To complicate matters, let’s look at AT&T who blocks the install of any Android application that does not come from the Market. AT&T has said they made this decision to protect the average customer from installing some rogue app by accident, but the reality is that it blocks users from buying apps from alternative app stores like Gameloft.

So why would Gameloft want restrict an entire carrier from buying their games? And why do they continue to hide their HD games on their site where the average Android user is not going to look?

From the outside, it just doesn’t make sense. Gameloft could release these games in the Android Market tomorrow and grab a ton of sales from all the new high-end gaming phones (like the Droid X and Galaxy S series), but someone up top has made the call to hold off.

I really can’t think of any logical reasoning behind their decision, unless there is some secret feud between Gameloft and Google.

Or maybe Apple has something to do with it.

Gameloft claims that sales of games for mobile devices accounted for 94% of its total profits in 2009 and the Apple iPhone played a crucial role in their growth. Income from the iPhone reached $24.5 million U.S. dollars in 2009 and about $10 million of that came in the fourth quarter (a 231% increase from 2008).

We know Gameloft and Apple have a cozy relationship because Gameloft has become one of the major players in the Apple App store, and they increasingly participate in media events hosted by Apple. When the iPad recently launched, Gameloft was ready with over a dozen HD titles.

Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but isn’t it a little odd that the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone is also the only carrier that is blocking their Android customers from purchasing games from Gameloft’s store? Is AT&T trying to cripple their Android experience by not allowing their customers to purchase and install the best Android games?

Conclusion

Google needs to work with Gameloft to get their HD titles in the Android Market. The current options for 3D games is pretty limited and Gameloft has the best Android lineup of any mobile developer. We finally have many high-end phones that are just hitting the market and Android needs these games now.

We already know that Google is really good at reaching out to developers, so I’m going to assume they have spoken at one time with Gameloft. For whatever reason, they have been unable to come to an agreement and Gameloft continues to hold their best HD titles captive from the Android Market.

Want even more proof something is wrong? Even Palm was able to come to an agreement with Gameloft and is currently offering all their HD titles in the official Palm App Catalog. Android is the only smartphone platform where Gameloft has decided not to offer their HD games in the official app market.

Since Gameloft has supported the official app stores for Palm’s webOS and the iPad, it makes no sense whatsoever for them to dodge the Android Market because “The Android platform is still rather new.

If you think Gameloft is going to have a change of heart and reverse their odd distribution choice, don’t count on it anytime soon. The company just sent out a press release to announce that HTC EVO and Nexus One users can get a free download of Let’s Golf HD, but it comes with a catch. Users must enter their phone number to receive a text message that instructs them to install an application which then redirects them to Gameloft’s mobile site where they can finally download the free game (sounds simple, right?).

At this rate, it doesn’t look like a real solution is coming down the pike. And with all the problems I’ve had with Gameloft’s store, I can’t recommend that other Android fans shop there.

Why do you think Gameloft is holding their HD games hostage on their web site and away from the Android Market? Is there a simple explanation for all this or is there more than meets the eye?

Watch on YouTube
Show Press Release

GAMELOFT TO OFFER LET’S GOLF HD FREE ON HTC EVO™ 4G AND NEXUS ONE PHONES

Gameloft, a world leader in downloadable games for all platforms announced that Let’s Golf HD will be available for free download on HTC EVO 4G and Nexus One smartphones. Let’s Golf HD, as well as Gameloft’s other HD games on Android, take full advantage of the impressive touch screen and processing power of the HTC EVO 4G and Nexus One .

Let’s Golf HD can be downloaded at the below links for a limited time only:
HTC EVO 4G: http://www.gameloft.com/android/htc-evo-games
Nexus One: http://www.gameloft.com/android/nexus-one-games