Kongregate Arcade Saga Concludes With Crippled Android App

By  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hopefully this will be the last story I write about Kongregate Arcade, the Flash game compilation that Google removed from the Android Market last week.

The background: Kongregate Arcade is a portal for roughly 300 of the Kongregate website’s mobile-friendly Flash games. It has user reviews, recommendations, offline play and badges that carry over to the desktop version of the site. Almost immediately, Google yanked the app from the Android Market because it looked too much like a competing app store.

Now it’s back with a couple crippling changes.

To make clear that Kongregate Arcade is essentially browsing the web for Flash games, you now see a URL bar while games are loading. You also have to tap on the game to hide the URL and go into full screen mode. And instead of letting users download Flash games to their phones’ SD cards, Kongregate Arcade now uses a standard browser cache.

I don’t often resort to inflammatory language, but this is stupid. The spirit of Kongregate Arcade — a self-contained environment for playing curated Flash games — is unchanged. And yet Google is forcing Kongregate to release a slightly inferior app just to uphold the appearance of a non-compete clause.

After writing my previous post on the matter, I started to convince myself that Google had an ulterior motive. Part of Kongregate’s revenue comes from advertising, which is how Google makes a lot of its money. If Kongregate’s app sends people to its own website, it could someday circumvent Google’s mobile ad efforts. (For now, the Kongregate app is ad-free.)

This doesn’t seem to be the case now that Kongregate Arcade is back in the Android Market. It’s all about setting a precedent for competing app stores, and so to make the Android Market look better, Google is making an app worse. In what world does that make sense?

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