'Air Patriots' Takes Off: Amazon's Leap Into the Mobile Gaming Game
Amazon (AMZN) wants some skin in the mobile gaming game.
The leading online retailer announced the availability of "Air Patriots" on Thursday. The game -- a new spin on the classic tower defense strategy game -- is a free download for Apple (AAPL) iOS and Google (GOOG) Android devices -- like the Kindle Fire, for example.
It won't be easy for it to get noticed. Both iOS and Android claim to have roughly 700,000 approved apps in their mobile marketplaces.
However, this is a notable release. "Air Patriots" is, after all, Amazon's first mobile game.
Amateurs Are a Threat
Amazon rolled out "Living Classics" -- the studio's first social game -- three months ago. The moving object game, where players analyze illustrations from classic books and click away at the animated objects in motion, hasn't been a monster hit on Facebook (FB).
Sponsored LinksThere are currently 140,000 monthly players. That may seem like a big number, but social gaming giant Zynga (ZNGA) can draw tens of millions of gamers a month to its biggest Facebook games.
That is the beauty of the Internet when it comes to Facebook games and mobile apps. It truly is a level playing field where one doesn't need to be a huge publisher -- or even the world's largest online retailer -- to make a difference. Coders working at tiny companies today are developing the blockbuster games of tomorrow.
However, this doesn't mean that Amazon is at a disadvantage here. All it takes is a hit or two to get going, and then gamers will begin sticking around to see what the company will put out next.
Would it have been a smarter strategy to introduce "Air Patriots" exclusively for Kindle Fire owners? If the title became popular, it could spur Kindle Fire sales as the lone tablet where it could be played.
However, Amazon is too young in this niche to get cocky. It needs to earn its reputation with social and casual gamers first.
Besides, the game is already offering a special perk for Kindle Fire owners. The game uses Amazon GameCircle on the company's tablet to track achievements and high scores in a social way with other familiar players.
Despite the challenges, entering this new marketplace is the right thing for Amazon to do. Once the hits start coming, it will be the early releases of "Living Classics" and "Air Patriots" that made it possible for a company that is best known as a retailer of physical goods to transform itself into a master of digital media too.