Top Emerging Android Apps: Minecraft, Life is Crime and Lots of Utilities

This week saw a good balance on the charts between old and new offerings. Mojang’s Minecraft made a big impact on the paid charts, and EA Mobile kept Madden NFL 12 on the top grossing charts with a price drop. The free charts showed less variation, once again being dominated by utilities. With the exception of Minecraft, there were no impressive launches, but newer games from Red Robot Labs, Disney Mobile and Animoca all performed well.

New Titles on the Android Top Grossing Apps List

(Update) Madden NFL 12 – Football fans have proven to be a powerful force in the Android Market, keeping EA Mobile’s Madden NFL 12 in the charts since it launched. Boasting all 32 NFL teams, personalized Hot Routes and the ability to pause the game and adjust players’s positions, the game has plenty of features to keep armchair quarterbacks captivated. Madden NFL 12 is currently the #9 top grossing app, and is on sale – down to $4.99 from its original price of $6.99.

(Update) Texas Poker – Next up is #10 ranked Texas Poker, one of three poker games currently battling in the Android Marketplace (behind #5 ranked Zynga Poker and #3 ranked Live Holdem Poker Pro). The only Android app from Siberian based KamaGames, Texas Poker is free to play, and like in the iOS version, monetizes through in-app purchases of chips and gifts. We last covered KamaGames in July, when their acquisition of the IP for Mall Party, City Friends and Epic Gladiator made headlines.

Life is Crime – Red Robot Labs location enabled mafia game is the #18 top grossing app. Life is Crime lets players to become mafia overlords of their own cities, fighting other players for control of real world locations like coffee shops and train stations, leaving behind pickups for allies and even shaking down rivals for turf. The game monetizes through in-app purchases and has seen installs climb steadily since we covered its launch at the end of August. The company is backed with funding from Benchmark Capital and Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson.

My Car Salon – Since its release on September 21st, Animoca’s game My Car Salon has been extremely popular, racking up more than 1 million downloads and climbing to the #21 spot on the top grossing apps chart. The free to play game puts players in charge of their own auto-repair shop where they must motivate their staff and keep customers moving in and out quickly in order to put money in the till. My Car Salon was updated on October 13th with a Halloween theme and costumes. Animoca is a division of Hong Kong based developer Outblaze, which has an aggressive strategy of releasing at least one app or so a week. It monetizes across a portfolio of hundreds of titles, unlike other developers who focus on a handful of games.

Homerun Battle 3D – The last entry on our top grossing Android chart this week is Korean developer Com2uS’ #26 ranked Homerun Battle 3D. The $4.99 app is an older game and was last updated on June 5th. Homerun Battle 3D is an arcade style baseball game with a simple premise: how many home runs can you hit? Players can either play by themselves or compete head to head in online match ups for baseball supremacy, and can customize their uniforms, hats and equipment to give them an edge in battle.

New Titles on the Android Top Free Apps List

(Update) Hanging With Friends – Zynga’s version of Hangman is a mainstay of the free Android charts. Currently the #10 app, Hanging With Friends was updated on September 29th to version 4.04 and is still seeing installs grow almost exponentially. Players can participate in up to 20 games simultaneously, play with Facebook friends or random opponents and receive push notifications to ensure they never keep someone waiting for their move. Hanging With Friends was developed by Zynga With Friends, which Zynga brought in through the acquisition of Dallas-based Newtoy.

(Update) Zedge Ringtones & Wallpapers – The #13 free app this week is Zedge Ringtones & Wallpapers. Still growing steadily since we last profiled the app in August, the advertisement supported utility allows its community of 40 million users to share and distribute free wallpapers, ringtones and notifications sounds, which can be set and managed from within the app, which was developed by Norwegian/US based Zedge.

Tango Voice & Video Calls – Moving all the way down to #32 we have Tango Voice and Video Calls. The app allows users to make free calls to other users of the app, even if they are on an iOS device or a PC. The cross-platform calls work over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. Developer Tango updated the app on October 4th to add PC support and fixes for Samsung and HTC phones.

Handcent SMS – The perfect compliment to free calls is free messaging, and Handcent_admin’s #43 ranked app Handcent SMS allows users to bypass their wireless carriers entirely when sending texts. The full-featured app includes SMS and MMS support, spellcheck, blacklisted filtering, emoji icons and even the option to password protect and hide certain messages. Handcent SMS was updated on October 6th to add support for Slovak.

MP3 Ringtone Maker – Bringing up the rear of the charts this week is the popular app MP3 Ringtone Maker. Made by the mysterious dev LuckyStar (the link to the developer’s website re-directs to a Yahoo search), the app allows users to search for popular songs, isolate the exact portion they want then set it as a ringtone, notification sound or share it with friends. Dubious legality aide, MP3 Ringtone Maker is currently the #48 free app in the Android Market.

New Titles on the Android Top Paid Apps List

Minecraft – Pocket Edition – Swedish developer Mojang’s runaway hit Minecraft is proving to be very successful now that it is no longer an exclusive Xperia play title. Currently the #3 paid app, in Minecraft: Pocket Edition, players mine for raw materials in a randomly generated world, and then use them to create whatever they feel like – worlds from other video games, the Starship Enterprise or the Empire State Building… the only limit is the player’s imagination. Pocket Edition doesn’t include everything the desktop version of the game has, there are no enemies or environment effects, but it does support multiplayer. Minecraft – Pocket edition is $6.99.

Ultimate Guitar Tabs – Moving down to #13 is Ultimate Guitar Tabs, a handy reference app from Ultimate Guitar USA. The $2.99 app allows musicians to view guitar, bass and drum tabs on their phones, and gives users access to the database of 300,000 tabs at Ultimate-guitar.com. The app was updated on October 7th to allow for in-app purchases of additional tools like a tuner, chord charts and metronome.

Myth Defense: Light Forces – Packed with features like random maps, achievements, alchemy, variable terrain, worldwide leaderboards and 32 difficulty levels, Smartpix Games’ Myth Defense: Light Forces is a game for true fans of the tower defense genre. Currently the #34 paid app, the game costs $3.95 and received a big content update on October 4th adding a new tower, new shop items and an extra speed level.

Apparatus – Despite installs trending downward in the last 30 days, independent Swedish developer Bithack’s game Apparatus is still the #36 paid app this week. In the game, players connect cables, batteries and planks of wood to build machines that can accomplish specific tasks and solve problems. Players can also upload and share levels with other members of the community. Apparatus costs $2.45 and was last updated on August 19.

(Update) Puffle Launch – Disney Mobile’s Club Penguin tie-in Puffle Launch made its Android debut on September 30th, and has performed well so far. The $0.99 game is currently #37 on the paid charts. The game challenges players to retrieve stolen Puffle Os from an evil crab in a giant robot suit by firing the main character out of a series of mid-air cannons. Our entire review of the game can be read here.