On Wednesday Amazon introduced an exclusive feature for its 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet called GameCircle (opens in new tab). It brings a social element to Android-based games offered on the device, mimicking Apple's Game Center for iOS. Starting today, developers can access the GameCircle APIs so that they can add support for leaderboards, achievements and sync to their titles.
For the uninitiated, developers offer "Kindle Fire Edition" versions of their apps. These apps typically don't offer any additional features outside the standard gaming apps for smartphones and other tablets, but are more or less formatted for the Kindle Fire screen. There's a good chance Amazon's new social service will be exclusive only to these "Kindle Fire Edition" games.
The big news here is GameCircle's sync feature. This automatically saves players’ in-game progress to the cloud and allows them to pick up exactly where they left off when restoring a deleted game or switching between their devices. Players will no longer have to worry about losing game progress, scores or achievements between Kindle Fire devices, as all data is securely stored for free in the cloud.
Did you catch that? Kindle Fire "devices." Amazon may be referring to both the current and new Kindle Fire tablets slated to arrive later this year. It may also indicate that Amazon is laying the groundwork for Kindle Fire smartphones, allowing gamers to move from tablet to smartphone any time they want/need without having to manage multiple local saved games.
What Amazon didn't specify was how gamers will make friends on the new social network -- if at all. GameCircle achievements allow players to track all earned trophies, treasures, badges, awards, and more without leaving the gaming experience. GameCircle leaderboards provide an in-game view of score comparison information and percentile ranking, allowing players to quickly and easily check standings against top players or competitors, without ever leaving the game.
"Our goal is to give developers great tools to quickly and easily reach new customers and keep them engaged. That’s why we’re creating easy-to-integrate APIs for features like leaderboards, achievements and sync. We also introduced In-App Purchasing API in April, allowing developers to offer a seamless 1-Click purchasing experience within their apps and games, and we’re just getting started," said Paul Ryder, Vice President of Apps, Games, and Services at Amazon. "GameCircle gives developers the right tools to build an immersive, more entertaining experience on Kindle Fire, which will ultimately help developers grow their business."
For more information on GameCircle and for access to the achievements, leaderboard and sync APIs, visit http://amazon.com/gamecircle (opens in new tab).