You’d have thought that with the TegraZone and games being launched just for Qualcomm chipsets that Android was about done with all of this “exclusivity” but no, Verizon are here to give us their own option. Verizon are soon to be launching their own gaming portal for customers on their network, dubbed “Games Portal” – nice name, Verizon – it’s pegged as being a hybrid social network and store all rolled into one. CNet are reporting that the portal will be powered by PlayPhone who, apparently, have a lot of experience in the field.
Verizon’s Games Portal will soon come pre-loaded onto their Android phones – more bloatware, YES! - and it could well offer an attractive option to game devs looking to get their games in the hands of more players. Verizon Customers will also be able to take advantage of direct billing, which could cut out the big, nasty middle man that is the Google Play Store. In its own right, it’s a good idea but, realistically this is the sort of thing that Android needs less of, certainly not more.
Honestly, this sort of stuff doesn’t just confuse me but, it makes me question if the folks behind these sorts of things actually get what gamers and users want. I get it, this is business, and in business everyone wants a piece of this big tasty pie that’s laid out on the table. Let’s face it, there’s no need for a game to be exclusive for Tegra devices or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon devices, sure there are slight differences that might make a game run better but, we all know ARM-based GPUs are incredibly similar to each other. Therefore, exclusivity like this makes little to no sense on Android. The whole idea of Android is create an open platform, not for tiny pockets of closed off commerce to rise up.
As a PC Gamer I have to deal with a number of different distribution methods and they all drive me insane. Why is there Origin and UPlay when Steam exists? Of course, in EA’s case it’s all about the money – much like I imagine it is for Verizon and the Games Portal. It drives me crazy that I have to open Origin to play Crysis 3 but I open Steam to play BioShock Infinite – why can’t I open just Steam?! The same thing is beginning to happen on Android, and I think we’d all agree that we’d like to be able to get games on Android from one place. The TegraZone is a bad idea, as is any “exclusive” title and devs should take note here, we’re not blaming NVidia or whoever here if my Samsung or HTC device can’t play your game, we’re blaming you.
Verizon’s Games Portal might become the closest Android gets to having its own Game Center but really, I ask Verizon, what’s wrong with the Play Store?