There’s been plenty of talk lately about the Android mobile operating system’s latest iteration, Froyo (Android 2.2). In stark contrast to the iPhone, Android-based phones will have full Flash functionality once updated to Froyo. That would appear to have major implications for mobile gaming — provided the Flash implementation is well done.
Instead of waiting to see, web gaming portal Kongregate decided to go ahead and release some Flash games for Android. Ten days after putting out a call to some of the developers who work on its platform, Kongregate has already released 120 games.
“The actual Flash performance is much better than I expected,” says Kongregate CEO Jim Greer. “I thought it would be mediocre, but it’s actually very good.”
Greer’s take is much the same as other early Froyo reviewers, all of whom agree that the powerful hardware in most Android devices helps the case. With performance out of the way, the remaining question is how easily existing Flash game developers will be able to switch over to mobile.
One might think that Kongregate and its developers, having taken only 10 days to port their games to mobile versions, didn’t put a lot of effort into it — and that assessment would be about right, according to Greer. “What I would say is to an average Flash developer is that you don’t necessarily think that you’d use the same version as on the web, but that’s just the same fallacy that people committed with the iPad, where they thought they had to have an app in the store even though there’s a great web browser.”
Most of the work is in simply choosing games that work well with touch-screen controls. Many of the 120 games are physics-based, with the main interaction from users being taps on the screen or a drag of the fingertip. Most games that use mouse controls on the desktop can be easily modified for mobile.
You can check out the games yourself on Kongregate’s mobile site, while mobile developers will now have access to a separate category and uploader for the site. Going forward, Kongregate plans to release an arcade app to add in social features, as well as the features from the main site, like voting and leaderboards.
Of course, if surfers go directly to Kongregate’s web site, that means they won’t have any reason to visit the Android Market for the same games — or to pay up front for any games at all. The addition of Flash could immediately set Android on a different course than the iPhone. But it seems likely that Google already knows that, and doesn’t mind at all.