It’s clear that Amazon has an interest in building popularity for their gaming features through the site’s Appstore for Android. Social gaming is a huge attraction for customers as evidenced by the popularity of Achievement systems on various gaming platforms and the success of Farmville and its many imitations. In order to draw developers into creating content specific to Amazon’s own platform, it only makes sense that they would go out of their way to create some content of their own that can serve as an example. As far as examples go, the new Air Patriots app is an exceptionally good one.
As a game, it’s fairly interesting. While the basic description would be “tower defense”, Air Patriots does a lot to vary the now-familiar formula in a way that keeps it interesting and helps keep your attention during play.
The basic concept is simple. You get tanks coming in and have to map out flight paths for your planes to attack them before they can make it to the end of the line. Your “towers” are always on the move. Since they can also collide, this means that there is a lot of coordination that needs to be done. The emphasis is on adapting to the changing needs of the situation rather than just maximizing the advantage of natural choke points.
The implementation is clearly meant to highlight the most useful capabilities of Amazon Game Circle. Syncing is the first thing featured in a new installation. A prompt for activation appears on the first run. This removes the need to keep personal save files on your device, allowing for better storage management. That goes along with the leaderboard and achievement functions, which are also available at the touch of a button from any point in the game.
In-app purchasing is also quite prominent. For the most part all important features are available in the game without real money payments. Specific maps and planes are only attained by way of cash transaction, however. There is a lot of content for a free game even without that and this isn’t an app designed to leech microtransactions out of users, but the additional available content will be appealing enough to attract interest.
What makes this a smart move on Amazon’s part, especially if we disregard any potential income from the game itself, is the quality. If they had just come up with an app that included the features in question, this would be a footnote. Since Air Patriots not only implements Game Circle well but also switches up a popular but often uninteresting game concept enough that it can appeal even to experienced players, it becomes something more.
If Air Patriots becomes a hit, which it quite likely will thanks to the free status and the interesting implementation, the benefit is much greater than the sum of the in-app transaction income. It proves that the Game Circle services manage to equal the best of the competition. Since the feature set is almost identical to the iOS alternative, setting up Apple’s as the competing ecosystem, it gains Amazon significant ground.
As a recommendation, I’d advise anybody who owns a Kindle Fire or equivalent tablet to give this a try. They did a good job here, even if that was likely a secondary goal.