In an effort to expand its game distribution, Amazon has announced Game Connect. The service makes multiple free-to-play titles available for download through Amazon, but the main benefit they’re highlighting is the ability to purchase digital items through via the retailer. In a press release, director of Amazon Games Mike Frazzini said that “[customers] can experience the convenience of having virtual items purchased with their Amazon account delivered directly to their game accounts.”
Purchasing digital goods in PC free-to-play games is often a multistep process that Amazon hopes to remove the inconvenience of with their new service. With its push in digital sales that rival any other digital game distribution platforms, the service has already drawn in a gaming audience that it hopes to capitalize on. Developers do have to integrate the service into their games, but Amazon already has titles like Super Monday Night Combat, World of Tanks and Runescape on board. There will also be exclusive items purchasable only through Amazon, encouraging exclusive goods like Valve often offers with Team Fortress 2 hats.
The news comes a day after the announcement of Game Center, which tracks achievements, leaderboards and provides cloud saves on Amazon devices (specifically, Kindle Fire).
Exclusive items and convenient purchasing are all well and good, but neither Game Center nor Game Connect are enough to draw me in as I’m heavily invested in Steam. I imagine many video game players are, as well. The next logical step in drawing an audience would be for Amazon to start publishing games available only through their service. It may seem far-fetched, but the company is already publishing exclusive titles through their e-book service, Kindle. In either case, competition is often good for the consumer, so it’ll be exciting to see how other distributers respond.