There most common gamification platform may be your standard PC web browser, typically accessed via a laptop or desktop computer, but every new piece of personal tech hardware has the potential to open up new avenues. For example, mobile phones and tablets such as the iPad have had some gamification success, especially when it comes to GPS-powered location-specific game features, such as check-ins at a specific place.
The two most recent big gadget announcements have the potential to introduce new audiences to both traditional games and the social and gamification experiences we're particularly interested in here. One is the Amazon Kindle Fire, the first tablet that has a real chance of competing with the iPad, and the other is Apple's just-announced iPhone 4S, a fairly significant upgrade (despite what some may say) to the iPhone platform. Now that we've had a week or so to digest the spec lists of each device, here's why we're excited (or not) about each device:
Amazon Kindle Fire: While it shares the same Kindle name as the popular black-and-white e-book readers, the new Kindle Fire is a wholly different animal. It's basically a 7-inch Android tablet, but taking a cue from Apple, it's wrapped in what is essentially a curated experience. Android is covered with a custom touch interface, Amazon provides its own app store, and the system is priced to almost be an impulse purchase.
Amazon knows that embracing game makers is key (an conclusion that Apple took far too many years to embrace), and even the original e-ink Kindle has Scrabble and a few other basic games. But at the Kindle Fire launch, one of the biggest bullet points was its support for games such as Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.
The Kindle Fire has some serious limits, however. The Amazon app store won't have access to nearly as many apps as the Android Marketplace, and this fragmentation of Android app stores makes it harder make sure your game or gamification app is in all the right app stores for all the different devices you want to reach people on.
And even with some level of Flash support, we can't imagine any web-based games will play particularly well on the Kindle Fire, if you want to use a Facebook or web-based game.
Apple iPhone 4S The iPhone is already a great gaming platform, with access to a huge app store (albeit one with a rather high barrier to entry) and the kind of always-on location features that make check-ins easy and a built-in game platform in the underused Apple Game Center. That Game Center platform is getting some new updates in the form of iOS5, which we'll talk about in a future post. Adding to the appeal is the new dual-core processor in the iPhone 4S, almost as powerful as the one in the iPad 2, which we would read as a win for game makers.
On the other hand, the iPhone has had a dedicated Facebook app for a long time (with an iPad version just joining it this week), but that app lacks the gaming features that we're interested in using. And so much has been written about the platform's lack of Flash support that we mention it only in passing.
If you're a game maker or a marketer interested in adding gamification features, we ask: Are you planning to specifically target either of these two platforms? If so, why or why not? Is platform fragmentation a danger to the ubiquity of gamification, which needs to be easy to use above all else?