Spending Time With Android

You know that “other” apps store out there? Yeah, the one without Apple’s involvement? Yep, the Android Marketplace is an up-and-comer for gamers, but has some desperate needs that should be addressed.

To be clear, the Android market will always be fragmented. Unlike the development for an Apple product, Android devices are all over the place in terms of raw power, design, and controls. As such, development is tricky and will always be fragmented simply by design. Not much can be done.

However, it’s turned the Android gaming experience into a sort of a wild west where anything is possible. There is far less control, also making things somewhat more dangerous. On the same screen on the market, you can find porn apps right next to some Angry Birds knock-off (that right next to Angry Birds itself). It’s difficult to find real quality stuff, and strangely, some companies like Gameloft don’t even list their titles on the Marketplace. That’s a shame, because their titles are some of most well-produced, even if blatant knock-offs. Still, a FPS with online multiplayer is an eye-grabber for any device, and Lets Golf 2 is superb regardless of platform.

The Markeplace also lacks major titles and big names. EA and Capcom are barely a presence with a smattering of games each. EA released Madden 11 as a barebones demo for the Droid X leaving everyone else out. Others like Ubisoft are nowhere to be found, although franchises like Assassin’s Creed are put into the hands of Gameloft.

As ugly as it sounds, the lack of control over these devices is the real problem, some apps exclusive through a website, some exclusive to the marketplace, and some on both. Awful apps are all over the place, and even with a lenient refund policy, it’s still enough to ruin the experience. Those loose policies have led the way to an explosion of emulators, but the after-effects of poorly designed wallpapers make finding the good stuff increasingly difficult.