Amazon Pumps Up Kindle Fire Gaming With GameCircle, Opens APIs To Developers

Amazon has just announced a bit of good news for avid Kindle Fire gamers and developers — the company has been working to revamp the gaming experience on their wallet-conscious tablet and have decided to share the fruits of their labor.

Starting today, developers can use Amazon’s GameCircle APIs to implement a host of new features in their Kindle Fire games. Considering how many other console and mobile gaming platforms already support them, it should come as no surprise that support for achievements is on that list of features. Also on deck is leaderboard functionality, which allows users to see how they stack up to their rivals without having to pop out of the game in question.

So far, it all sounds very Game Center-y (though Amazon could do worse than to take cues from Apple), but GameCircle has one last trick up its sleeve. Perhaps the most immediately impressive feature is GameCircle’s sync functionality, which automatically saves a player’s progress to the cloud. As such, players are able to pick up where they left off even if they’ve had to re-install the game in question or switch devices.

It’s an interesting play to see from Amazon, and arguably it’s one they need to make. The Seattle-based retail giant is about to face some very stiff competition in the low-cost tablet space thanks to Google’s Nexus 7, but Amazon’s content and media ecosystem is still perhaps their strongest differentiator. With GameCircle, Amazon is trying to improve a very specific segment of that ecosystem, though it’s unclear at this point how many game developers will flock to their APIs.

Of course, it’s very possible that GameCircle’s impact isn’t intended to end with the company’s tablets. Rumors that Amazon is working on a new smartphone are making the rounds with renewed intensity — even the Wall Street Journal got in on the fun recently, claiming that the Amazon phone will sport a four- or five-inch screen. Though details are still sparse at this point, don’t be surprised if whatever Amazon is working on ends up playing nice with GameCircle too.