Android: the armpit of the gaming industry—or so we are sometimes led to believe. The worst part of sentiments like the above for those of us who work with Android games is that we clearly understand why an insider, writer or fan might make such a suggestion. For one, because it’s so confoundedly easy to steal Android games, the piracy of ‘Droid titles is running amok all over the web and there is a large pool of iOS and cross-platform games that will never appear on the Play Store. Thanks pirates. And then there’s Android’s freemium market, which has grown from the darker and crappier half of Android gaming into the veritable sea of crap-apps that now dominate Android gaming. And yet, and yet, many of us remain interested in Android gaming for some reason or another.
Android’s Wild West marketplace is what keeps me hanging around. Why? Because the same open market that spawns rampant piracy, has caused a bevy of wonderful microdevs to spring from the ether. Among these indie developers are a small contingency of master craftsman, tiny indie teams like the Trese Bros., Little Killerz and Hellhound Interactive, who began life as Android-only developers, and whose wonderfully nuanced and exciting games never fail to make Hardcore Droid’s best of lists, and this bad boy is no different. Android is also the place where I and many other gamers were first introduced to numerous cross-platform, indie developers. Android developer par excellence, Sarah Northway, for example, whose unique zombie-themed builder, Rebuild, made its mobile debut on ‘Droid, first entered my radar and that of many of my fellow Hardcore Droid writers via Android gaming. What’s more, the plethora of ground breaking titles that have cropped up on Android over the past few years, have left it a singularly indie-friendly market, thus extremely playable trail blazers like Frozen Synapse have reared their heads. And then for some reason, over just the past two years, more and more high-end devs are porting over some of the finest AAA indie and mainstream titles, with seminal cross-platform games like the Banner Saga and Xcom finding a home on our platform of choice, which makes sense as mobile-capable, cross-platform games are now a burgeoning mainstream market, as is unfortunately the F2P (free to play) market, which cut its teeth on Android more so than on any other platform. The point, in part, is that while the lion’s share of Android gaming is admittedly not on the cutting edge, the method of delivery and marketing is, and as that development has begun to dig its heels into mainstream gaming, the AAA ports and cross-platform games have begun pouring in. So, while we may at present represent the armpit of the gaming industry, we are also in many fine respects its future. So, by all means, dig on these titles, download them, enjoy them, because we are going to be here a while.