(By Mani) Amazon.com, Inc.
) launched GameCircle – a new feature that lets customers track their games in the form of achievements, leaderboards, and sync that make gaming even more fun, convenient and social on Kindle Fire. This feature is similar to Apple Inc.'s
) GameCenter and solidifies rumors that the online retail giant may launch its own smartphone.
Seattle-based Amazon has released a series of APIs for developers to add this new feature to their games, and some of the developers have already embraced the new feature. GameCircle would come soon to Imangi's Temple Run, Spry Fox's Triple Jump and GameHouse's Doodle Jump.
The new GameCircle APIs mean that developers can focus on the elements of their games without worrying about building leaderboards, achievements or sync in their games.
GameCircle will make achievements, leaderboards and sync APIs accessible, simple and quick to integrate, and will give gamers a more seamless and entertaining in-game experience.
Achievements help players track all earned trophies, badges while they're playing games on their Kindle Fire, and they won't have to leave a game to receive messages, get updates or track accolades.
Meanwhile, players can easily check standings against other players without leaving the game with the leaderboards feature, while Sync 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.
Though GameCircle comes close to Apple's Game Center, the Amazon's product doesn't seem to have the same social features like Game Center. Amazon's feature lacks some key aspects of Game Center, which allows players to connect with friends, share games and view a friends-only leaderboard.
Amazon is expanding its mobile device offerings and wants to attract more gamers to its platform. GameCircle closed a big gap in its platform, which lacked a centralized gaming feature that tracks gaming progress and helped rivals such as Apple and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Apple got the first mover advantage in this space as it unveiled Game Center for iOS in 2010 and plans to extend the functionality to the Mac with the upcoming OS X Mountain Lion update in July, while Microsoft has a Xbox Live app into Windows Phone. Google is also reportedly working on a Game Center-like service for Android.
Finally, GameCircle adds more wings to Amazon smartphone rumors as building a full-fledged gaming ecosystem would help the company effectively compete against the likes of Apple and Samsung. Smartphone should be a natural extension to Amazon's consumer offerings as it already garnered tremendous response for its Kindle Fire tablets and e-readers.