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Kongregate unveils Android gaming service

UPDATE: Google yanks app from Market.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

UPDATE: Google has removed Kongregate Arcade from the Android Market just a few hours after it first launched.

According to a statement from Kongregate, Google's decision is "due to unknown reasons".

While it's currently unavailable from the Android Market, you can still pick it up from the developer's own site.

We'll be sure to update again if Google offers an explanation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Browser gaming hub Kongregate has launched a new Android service called Kongregate Arcade, offering mobile gamers a growing library of more than 300 free games.

New titles will apparently be added to the App on a weekly basis from a pool of around 36,000 titles currently available on the desktop version of the service. Selection for the app will depend on "compatibility with the mobile platform and the ability to play on a touch screen device."

In addition, Kongregate is promising to work with its 8,500-strong developer community to create new titles exclusively for the Arcade app.

Kongregate is cloud-based, so you'll need to have your device online to play most of the titles on offer, but "select games can also be downloaded for offline play."

The app will offer the desktop model's full range of social features, including achievements, leaderboards, comments and a user review system.

The app is available now and compatible with any device running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or higher, with Flash 10.1.

The idea of the app is "to solve the game discovery problem that all Android owners have shared," explained CEO Jim Greer

"We're connecting our large and growing community of players and developers on the web to a convenient mobile experience," Greer told Eurogamer. "We're following where the market is moving. We see gamers spending a lot of time on mobile devices so we want to be there as well. That's our ultimate goal: to offer a great gaming experience wherever people want to play."

Greer also explained why Kongregate – which boasts 13 million monthly users in its browser-based form - had opted to launch on Android rather than on the App Store.

"We're starting with Android because we love the fact that it's an open platform where we can move at the pace we're used to moving on the open web. And the fact that it has huge scale now - it's surpassed iOS in terms of sales.

"I love iOS devices as a user," Greer went on to explain. "As a developer I much prefer the open model.

"The lack of Flash support [on Apple devices] isn't really the only restriction for us. Apple has made it pretty clear that it's the only distributor of games on iOS, so as a distributor of games I would worry that even if we play to the letter of their current rules, those rules could change at any time.

"And Apple also provides community services for games through Game Center. So they're doing things that we do, where we would be competing with the platform holder, whereas Google has made it very clear that they're open to all-comers and they hope third parties like us will make it a better platform and help them catch up the couple of years head-start that the iPhone has."

Greer wouldn't rule out the possibility of working with Apple in the future however. An iOS version of the app would need some tweaking due to Apple's refusal to support Flash, but would be technically possible.

"It would be a different list of games certainly, but the real challenge is that Apple is not really looking for third party distributors to come in and play a big role in their ecosystem."

With over 300 titles to choose from, we asked Greer to recommend a handful that any interested Eurogamer readers might want to try out first.

"There's Dolphin Olympics – if you took Tony Hawk and made him into a dolphin instead of a skater that's pretty much what that game is. Vector Runner is a really fun action game. Monster Slayers is a great RPG. Zilch is a great dice game – it doesn't sound that compelling but I guarantee that if you try it it's a great time-waster."

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