Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Can GameStop’s Kongregate app help Google catch up with Apple in mobile games? [Update: and it’s gone!]

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[Update: Well, that was short-lived. Google has pulled the application from the Android Marketplace, citing a violation of its terms of service.]

Kongregate, the GameStop-owned casual flash game site, has gone mobile with an application for devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system. This is either some very good news or very bad news, depending on your penchant for addictive flash games.

Hundreds of those addicting flash games are coming to phones running on Google’s mobile operating system, Android, with the release of Kongregate’s mobile Arcade. The application — free on the Android marketplace — lets Kongregate users access around 300 of the site’s flash games optimized for mobile phones and download about half of them and play them offline.

Kongregate runs a site for independently developed games running on Adobe’s flash software. The company hands developers the keys when it comes to adding virtual goods and lets gamers purchase virtual goods and tip developers with Kongregate Kreds (the site’s currency). Kongregate adds achievements to some of the more popular games depending on how much demand there is from the user base. The site adds a rail to the side of each game that lets users rate games and chat with other people who are playing the game.

As time goes on, Kongregate will introduce more games and let users download more of them directly once some minor technical issues with the service are resolved. The mobile site — and by extension, Kongregate Arcade — only runs versions that are optimized for mobile devices. That usually means remapping controls to work with just a touch screen, but developers are typically pretty willing to modify their games and make them playable on mobile devices, said Kongregate chief executive and co-founder Jim Greer.

The app behaves pretty similarly to other marketplaces. Users can browse games that are on Kongregate’s main site and download them to the phone. The app runs in flash — which means it won’t run on any old Android phones that haven’t yet updated to version 2.2 (Froyo) of the Android operating system. The application then jumps into a full-screen mode for the game, and users can just hit back to jump out of the game. Kongregate already has a mobile website that lets Android users access flash games. The application is a bit slicker than the site, naturally, and each game accessed on the mobile site also automatically brings up the option to download it and run it in the Kongregate Arcade. The application also brings some of the features from the main site’s rail to the mobile application — such as comments and being able to rate each game.

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