News: Google Kills Gaming on Android

Google Kills Gaming on Android

One of the biggest advantages iOS has over Android as a mobile platform is how readily and fully it has embraced mobile gaming. There are over 200,000 games available in the Apple store, compared to approximately 100,000 in the Android Marketplace. As an Android-using gamer, this has always bothered me. 

Until recently, this annoyance has been mitigated by a series of excellent console emulators available for Android, made by programmer Yong Zhang. These all ended in "-oid", including Snesoid and GameBoid for Super Nintendo and Gameboy, respectively, and allowed users to play ROMs of games from these consoles on their Android devices. This gave game-deprived Android users like myself access to thousands of classic games on our mobile devices, and made us feel a little less left out over not having the ability to play Swords & Sworcery, and other great recent iOS games.

SNESoid running Super Mario Kart.

Last night, without explanation, Google withdrew Zhang's developer account and took the emulators down from their marketplace. This has deprived him of his primary source of income, (several of the Apps were top-sellers in the Marketplace) and forced him to re-release his works for free using the third-party App store SlideME (with the odd exception of N64oid, which is listed at $0.30 on SlideME). This is bad news for Zhang, who was able to support himself by providing a great product to needy users at a reasonable price. Beyond Zhang's misfortune, it's also a terrible sign for all game-loving Android users as well.

Google doesn't seem to realize how important games are. None of their platforms offer much support for games, they've never made a game-related service, and now they're making active efforts to stifle the one good game type available on Android. It's worth pointing out that there aren't emulators for iOS either, but there isn't much of a demand, considering there are so many good games designed specifically for the platform. Apple, historically not a friend to gamers, has gone far beyond Google in embracing games on mobile devices, with great results. The game community loves iOS, which, at this point, is regarded as a console in its own right. Android, meanwhile, is a laggert, and one that seems completely unwilling to change course. 

In my opinion, Apple products are overpriced and not as functional as their competitors (with the exception of the iPod, which mysteriously has no serious competitors to this day). They also have much more stringent standards for what can go on their App store than Google does, which could be seen as a disadvantage. These restrictions make development a little harder for iOS than Android. But it also forces developers to make games with no quasi-legal issues like emulators, meaning Apple won't remove the games, as Google has just done.

Google does not appear to make any efforts to embrace mobile gaming. This latest bit of news may just be enough to make me eat a heaping plate of crow and switch from my beloved HTC Evo to an iPhone. Stay tuned.

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While I understand where this article is coming from it is important to remember the primary function of Zhang's products and how those products create a very grey legal area for the Android and its sponsors. Not everything is illegal about roms and the software to run them but the truth is that most of us don't own the games, systems, or create the backups our selves resulting in a copyright grey area that can be very messy - especially for Google which seems to be under continuous scrutiny and legal trouble as their digital empire grows.

If you want to support gaming then do it with legal products. If roms were such a big deal then make a push for more legal, modern platforms so that gaming can expand. I'm not against roms as an end-user and consumer, but from a business standpoint you have to keep clean for both your self but for the sponsors and investors as well.

I read another article which led me to the same conclusion... why would Google be anti-gaming for the Android? Seems like a pure & simple legal issue.

It is a legal issue. My point is not that Google hates games or wants to stamp them out, simply that they have done nothing to encourage or promote them on any of their platforms. That makes the loss of the emulators and ROM's a big deal for mobile gamers.

Also, Google is supposed to represent openness and access on the web. Emulators and ROM's are a part of that.

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