Gameloft has launched an online store where people can buy games and then sideload them to their handsets. The service works via an application that is downloaded to the PC (not Mac) from the Gameloft Connect page, and the games are offered from $1.99, with a buy five get one free deal. I tried the application and it worked fairly well, although loading new ?pages? resulted in a short delay I?ve come to expect more from mobile phones than PCs. Downloading the $1 free trial game went painlessly?there are four languages to choose from when you register (including English, French and Spanish) and a whole list of countries, leading me to assume this is a widespread international offering. Payment was via credit card. Also, once you buy the game you don?t have to install it right away, you can keep it in the ?My Games? section...which is good because my mobile is still getting repaired.
I?m not sure if this is new?if it isn?t Gameloft has done a very poor job of promoting it (I?ve sent a missive to its PR). This service does some good things?it enables people to buy games without having to navigate the carriers deck (true you have to sideload the games, but the process seems to be part of the application) which also means that you can get games that your carrier doesn?t offer. Perhaps far more importantly it brings the cost of the games down?$1.99 is cheaper than just about any carrier you?re likely to be on. Most of the games seem to be $1.99, the 3D games are $3.99. Stuart Dredge (who brought this to our attention) bemoans the fact that it?s publisher specific rather than being an iTunes style deal covering multiple publishers. That would be good, but some publishers may be afraid of offending the carriers.