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Kindle Fire adds APIs for cloudy gaming features

Preparing for global war with Google, Apple this Christmas

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Amazon has beefed up gaming on its Android-based Kindle Fire platform, in hopes that adding cloudy goodness will help bolster the device in the upcoming fondleslab wars.

The online retailer's new set of services, collectively called GameCircle, allow games to store various kinds of data in Amazon's cloud, where it can be accessed and shared by multiple players and devices. The three services Amazon is offering so far include Achievements, Leaderboards, and Sync.

Achievements allow game players to earn trophies, treasures, awards, and other prizes, and to maintain a list of the prizes they've won and ones they have yet to earn. Leaderboards allow players to track their high scores in games and rank their scores against those of other players. Sync automatically saves game state to Amazon's cloud, allowing players to pick up where they left off when they restore a deleted game or switch to a different device.

If any of this sounds familiar, it's probably because Apple offers similar features via its Game Center service for iOS devices. It's been good business for the fruity firm, which says its 130,000,000 Game Center members submit some 5 billion game scores to the service each week.

The APIs that allow game developers to integrate GameCircle into their games are technically still in beta, but developers can apply for an invitation to access them on the retailer's website.

The new gaming features come as Amazon gears up to expand the reach of its Android devices into international markets. Amazon says the Kindle Fire is the top-selling product in its US store – and according to some estimates it's the best-selling Android tablet of all – but so far it's been marketed mainly as an e-reader and media consumption device.

An increased emphasis on gaming may be what Amazon needs if it hopes to achieve its global ambitions in the face of mounting competition from the likes of Apple and Google.

Rumor has it that the Kindle Fire will arrive in the UK and Europe by "late fall," but Google plans to ship its well-reviewed Nexus 7 tablet to customers in the US, Canada, and the UK in a couple of weeks. If Apple follows suit with the much-rumored iPad Mini – as reports suggest it might – Amazon will find itself fighting a two-front war for UK fondleslab sales come Christmas. ®

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