Amazon has been making an effort to interest app developers, especially game developers, in their distribution platform lately. As has been mentioned here in the past, their GameCircle will allow for all sorts of social features to be integrated into just about any game without much trouble. Before this, many of the more popular Android games were unable to make use of their full feature set because of the Kindle Fire’s disconnection from Google services.
Moving forward along the same lines, Amazon has released plugins for the popular Unity game engine that should make it easier than ever for developers to add some in-app purchasing to their productions and build GameCircle into their games.
There are a number of reasons that this will be attractive. According to the press release regarding these plugins, in-app purchasing averages more than twice the revenue generation of paid app sales per transaction. Developers who can interest their users enough to encourage the occasional purchase will benefit from ongoing sales and therefore enjoy a fairly nice stream of income.
The GameCircle features help with this. GameCircle’s main attractions are Leaderboards, Achievements, and Whispersync for Games. The first two are easy ways to nudge players into spending more time immersed in the app. More exposure and more personal time investment means more likelihood of making a casual purchase. The latter feature, Whispersync for Games, encourages use of multiple devices and allows players to pick up where they left off even if they delete local data. That means that there is a far lower bar to replay should somebody be interested in running through their favorites a second time.
This will be both good and bad for the players, but mostly good.
By bringing these features to the Kindle Fire, Amazon has finally provided all the tools that developers will need to properly prepare their apps for distribution via the Amazon Appstore for Android. This will lead to more games, and apps in general, being made available for the Kindle Fire.
Whispersync for Games should go a long way to encourage quality game design as well. Since there is reason to hope that users will keep coming back now that their progress and achievements can be saved even after deleting an app temporarily, there is more reason to provide ongoing support and updates.
Of course the ease with which in-app purchases can be offered also means a slew of new apps meant to do nothing more than milk microtransactions out of every user. These types of lazy designs are a big presence on Google Play, but there’s been nothing keeping them away from Amazon aside from the extra effort it would take. I’m not referring to the genuinely malicious software, of course, but even the merely bad can be obnoxious to watch out for.
Expect to see more games with more features springing up in the months to come thanks to these plugins.
Amazon’s Appstore for Android is not exclusively available for the Kindle Fire, but at this point that is the device that matters. The relatively new media tablet already holds the majority share of the Android tablet market and has proven more or less untouchable by comparably priced hardware competition so far. The secret, if it can really be said to be one, is in the content. Amazon has just about anything one might want to consume through the Fire ready to go at a moment’s notice with the push of a button. Nobody else can come close for the price.
When some major shortcoming is addressed in the design of their ecosystem, it is therefore worth taking note of. Like the recent announcement that developers now having access to the option of in-app purchasing, completely changing the potential for ongoing revenue from Kindle Fire owners. This is a long-time staple of iOS app market that is well overdue here.
Until this point, Amazon affiliated app creators have earned a reported $0.89 for every $1.00 they earn selling the same offering through the iTunes App Store. That is despite the lack of ongoing microtransactions supported by Amazon. For comparison, the same app being sold through Google Play will earn an average of $0.23 for every dollar its creator catches via iTunes.
Opening up more possibilities for developers to make money through Android will put Amazon in a better position to build the best app selection available. Currently, in sheer numbers, they are lagging behind both Apple and Google significantly. By allowing options that don’t involve advertisements or unpopular third party tools, Amazon is making the Kindle Fire an even more attractive option.
This does open up some potential drama for Kindle Fire owners, of course. The biggest draw of Amazon’s 1-Click purchasing system is that it is so easy you almost don’t notice you’re spending money. Combine this with apps that are designed to offer quick and easy purchases and you may well have a recipe for personal financial disaster.
Many will recall an incident in the earlier days of the iPad when an eight year old girl made news buying Smurfberries to speed up her in-app play. The bad publicity from this and similar events is what brought about the iPad’s detailed array of Parental Controls.
Amazon hopes to avoid similar efforts by having fewer loopholes in their existing restrictions. Kindle Fire users have the ability to block in-app purchasing entirely, password protect the process using their Amazon account password, or create a PIN to unlock purchasing. Between these choices, there should be little room for complaint about accidental shopping unless users simply don’t know how to access the controls.
For reference, you can manipulate Kindle Fire In-App Purchasing settings by going to the Apps tab from the Home screen, clicking on the Store, and opening the Settings menu. Since all purchasing appears to be routed through this store app, it makes sense to find these settings here.
While it may not precisely stack up against Apple’s recent announcement of their 25 Billionth App download, Amazon’s App Store has a new success story in the form of Kindle Fire game publisher G5 Entertainment. They have recently announced their millionth download for Amazon’s new table in a report that also listed the company’s total downloads over the length of their business at over 40 million. G5 develops and publishes a fairly large selection of casual game selections for mobile platforms and PCs including both Android and iOS, and since the holiday season of 2011 has seen notable success in their releases specifically for the Kindle Fire. The same release from the company notes that six to eight of their first twelve releases are constantly present in the Amazon Appstore’s Top 100 Paid Games.
We have had indications from some analysts for a while now that despite the added complications for app developers when dealing with Amazon’s guidelines and review process, apps sold through the company’s store are likely to make significantly more money than even in the general Android Marketplace. Considering other analyses regarding the Kindle Fire user’s likely spending habits across the life of their device, it makes sense to specifically target this portion of Amazon’s user base in an effort to efficiently appeal to the most profitable audience. If nothing else, the evidence of success in this case would seem to justify the approach.
While the Kindle Fire is not primarily a gaming console in the way Nintendo and Sony’s portable video game systems are, there are a number of popular casual game genres that are easily adapted to the low power touchscreen device. In the case of G5, many will likely be familiar with their Hidden Object, Puzzle, or Time Management game. Their titles tend to favor an addictive but quick format that allows the user to step away as needed with no trouble and pick up again in a free moment without confusion. Perfect for the casual time waster, which fits the Kindle Fire’s status as a media consumption catch-all.
It should be noted that at least one of G5’s games was released as an Amazon Free App of The Day. While companies do not get reimbursed for these offerings, they often make an appealing option for publicity when properly exploited by the developer. This was an especially good move for once, since it allowed for the inclusion of the G5 Games Navigator as a portal for every customer to download the game. While it clearly opened the door to tens of thousands of downloads that did not directly earn the company any money, many of these were also from users that may not have taken an interest otherwise and who are now presented with suggested purchases in a move reminiscent of Amazon’s own sales methods.
The Kindle Fire is going to be a big deal for some time to come, despite any potential competition arising in the near future. It is a big market for Amazon to tap and they are unlikely to let it slide away. News like this just helps to confirm for developers that there might be something to their product specifically besides as just another budget Android tablet. As we learn more about the next generation of Kindle Fire, chances are good that it will only get more distinct from the competition and hopefully this is a sign that it can be even more profitable in some cases.
Kindle Fire magazine apps haven’t really had the best reviews overall because they either don’t show all of the content that consumers want, or they are clunky. I think this situation is about to change as more top rated apps appear to nudge others to make the improvements.
One of those top notch apps comes from USA Today. USA Today recently added an app optimized for the Kindle Fire. The rich text and graphics that go along with USA Today sets the example for what a top quality Kindle Fire App should look like.
USA Today is free. It can’t get any better than that. It is also available on just about all mobile devices, the web, and in print.
USA Today is national daily newspaper that is printed every weekday. It covers every topic under the sun: politics, economy, life, entertainment, weather, technology, and the latest headlines. If you want the latest news going on all over the world, this is your newspaper. On Fridays, check the newspaper for entertainment ideas for the weekend.
Right now, the biggest headlines are the upcoming election and the wrap up of the war in Iraq. The Kindle Fire’s vibrant display fits perfectly with the pictures and videos that go along with this app. Good apps go a long way in enriching the reading experience for magazines and newspapers.
“In my opinion, this is exactly what every news app should be like. It is easy to navigate, and it keeps me up to date on all the news. All other news apps should take note. ”
Tim D. Hendon
” The layout is outstanding and is very
easy to use. The graphics are razor sharp with no pixilation and
the articles are well layed out. Wish that under the Sports tab that
high school sports were included. Overall, a winner in the news media. ”
If you own a Kindle Fire and enjoy reading magazines, you’re in luck because Amazon is offering a 90 day free trial on select popular magazines. You can find these magazines on the Kindle Store homepage. The collection includes health, beauty, men and women, sports, teens, and technology.
A sample of some the hottest magazines included in this trial include:
Wired is a hit technology focused magazine that includes the latest gadgets, as well as innovative ideas that will shape the future. The magazine takes a broader approach with articles spanning across subjects such as science, philosophy, adventure, and online culture. It is a great magazine for those who are familiar with technology and want to stay on top of the latest trends. The reviews run from one end of the spectrum to another. As one reviewer said, it is free for three months, so it can’t hurt to give it a shot.
SELF is a diet and fitness magazine that that includes a variety of good workouts, and healthy recipes. It also includes beauty tips and other real life advice. When I’ve read the magazine, I’ve enjoyed what they have to say. The stories that resonate the most with me are the personal weight loss success stories. SELF is a good motivational tool to jump start the rush of New Years resolutions that involve getting healthy and fit. The benefit of the Kindle Fire version over the print is that it includes interactive content, such as videos.
Both Wired and Self, as well as a Glamour, GQ and a few others, are Kindle Fire apps, as opposed to magazines that are purchased in the Newsstand. The apps are more interactive, but require a different log in than the Newsstand magazines. They have room for improvement, but the good thing is that apps are updated regularly.
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is a Newsstand magazine, and the 90 day free trial is open to all Kindle owners. There is an interactive edition for Kindle Fire owners. The award winning magazine includes topics such as politics, world affairs, business, science, and the arts. There are a mix of articles, poetry, and cartoons. This is a weekly magazine.
Architectural Digest is the go to magazine for architects and interior designers. It includes designs from top architects and provides a peek into the homes of “celebrated personalities” as Amazon puts it. The pictures and graphic heavy nature of this magazine works best with the Kindle Fire.
The good part for print subscribers is that you can sign up for access the the digital editions for free. That is the way is should be! The Kindle editions can serve as a more portable alternative to the print editions.
With the reviews so all over the place and some magazines working better than others, I am eager to see what more people have to say about them. There is still a lot of work to do to make magazines work seamlessly on the Kindle, but they will improve over time as the Kindle platform gets better and better.