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Amazon Opens Online Casual Games Store

| 4 Feb 2009 16:45
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The Amazon Game Downloads store is boasting a large library of casual titles and the backing of a popular mainstream brand. Can it add to the corporations bottom line or is it doomed as a late-comer to the competitive casual games business?

Yesterday morning, Amazon announced its newly-opened Amazon Game Downloads store for over 600 casual games the web retailer acquired during its purchase of Reflexive Entertainment last fall. To celebrate its launch, customers are offered free copies of Jewel Quest II, The Scruffs, an Built-A-Lot, along with thirty minute free trials of any game in the store.

Despite the successful Amazon store supporting it, the company's offering faces stiff competition from the flood of online casual games retailers already on the market, including Pogo, PlayFirst, GameTap and even Valve Software's Steam service, which also targets full-priced games.

Greg Hart, Vice President of Video Games and Software at Amazon, isn't deterred by the challenge. "First, casual games are a great fit for Amazon.com's 88 million active customers," he explained. "Second, our game downloads offering provides those customers with the convenience, simplicity, and security they've come to expect from Amazon.com, which we believe is a big differentiator for our offering."

Amazon has been eying the digital games space for sometime, especially since its launch of a similar service for software products a year ago. From a business perspective, Hart believes selling games matches well with Amazon's demographic.

"Amazon.com is always looking at ways to better serve our customers. In this case, we felt that game downloads were a natural extension of our existing video game business, and one that our customers would respond well to," he stated.

In October, following the Reflexive acquisition, that team continued to grow its network of independent developers and build the Amazon service. Hart added, "Their relationships within the casual game industry, and their technology, have been key building blocks for Amazon Game Downloads."

The store as it stands isn't much more than an average Amazon store page with video game screenshots. However, Hart emphasizes that this is a "beta launch" for the service, a project he intends on expanding with features to carve out its own niche to compete against opponents who have built lively, interactive communities.

"We'll continue to expand both the range of games we offer, along with the features and functionality of the store, based on feedback from our customers," he commented. "You can expect the store will continue to improve and do an even better job serving customers in the future."

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