Amazon Crosses the Gaming Line

Ever since Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) commandeered Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android for its own purposes, there's been a distinct line in the sand. Amazon has its forked version of Android that has no official association with the search giant or its content stores, while Google has its sanctioned version. Amazon just crossed that line.

The e-tail heavyweight is now expanding its GameCircle service to include all Android devices. GameCircle is Amazon's social gaming network that allows gamers to play each other and offers achievements and leaderboards. Up until now GameCircle had been exclusive to Kindle Fire devices.

By broadening its horizons, Amazon is taking a clear shot at the gaming community within Google's Android camp. Even though both companies operate Android-based ecosystems, this is effectively a move at cross-platform warfare. The search giant just made a similar push in May when it announced Google Play Game Services at Google I/O, which integrates across Android, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iOS, and Web platforms. Apple's Game Center, which is only available for iOS, has also grown, to 240 million users.

Google is reportedly building a game console to pre-empt Apple, which may integrate gaming features into its Apple TV. Microsoft easily has an advantage in this department thanks to its popular Xbox 360. The software maker now has 46 million paying Xbox Live members. Those members are likely more engaged with Microsoft's gaming platform than their mobile counterparts.

For instance, Game Center users may be registered since the service is integrated into iOS and many games, but that doesn't mean those users are actually using the free service.

Online social gaming networks are key for multiplayer functionality, and no clear leader has emerged. That's an opportunity for companies looking to strengthen their platforms, and Amazon's expansion is a clear acknowledgement of this fact. That's particularly true considering that the tech giants are preparing to move into the living room, and gaming will be a big part of that.

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