Kongregate's Flash games come to Android in style

Flash on your mobile phone is good for videos and fancy Web sites, but it also gives Android phones a much needed boost of playable games. Some gaming sites like Kongregate are already selecting specific titles that work well on your phone.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

One of the most exciting prospects of Flash coming to Android devices has been games. While the iPhone platform has become a developmental heavyweight for indie gaming in just a few short years, it remains unable to take advantage of the rich library of titles developed to work on Adobe's Flash player.

With this week's inclusion of Flash player 10.1 on Android phones as part of the 2.2 software update, however, gamers on the go now have access to these titles. The only problem, it seems, is that not all of them are mobile phone-friendly.

Kongregate, a popular Flash gaming host and community, has gone through the effort to weed through its library and pick out titles that work well on smaller screens. Of the site's more than 28,300 titles, its staff has pulled together around 120 that they think work quite well.

CNET on Monday spoke with Kongregate CEO Jim Greer about the collection, as well as the site's efforts to get some of its top games' developers to make small adjustments, a process he says is going quite well. "There were a few games where developers had to make some buttons bigger, or put some buttons on-screen to replace the need for a keyboard," Greer said. "But they're psyched about it."

Greer said Flash developers who were aiming to port over their games to the iPhone had gotten "the wind taken out of their sails" after Apple's change to the developer agreement back in April. "There were a number of developers who had Flash games that they were working on using Adobe's Flash compiler," Greer explained. After the change in the rules, Greer said many began focusing on Android instead.

Adobe Flash-powered game Shoot! running on an HTC Nexus One. The game uses the phone's trackball to let players steer their ship. Kongregate/CNET

As for the battery life, Greer said it's not as horrible as Steve Jobs might have made it out to be in his open letter earlier this month. "It's not too bad," he said. "Android has a little bit of an issue with battery life anyway. I just plug it in to my laptop, so I'm not super sensitive to it. I'd definitely say it depends on the game too."

Another issue Jobs had picked at that Greer says is not a problem on Android phones is hovering. On a regular computer, this would require mousing over a button without actually clicking it, which on something like the iPhone (which doesn't have a mouse per se) would prove difficult.

"For games that need hover, you'd just use the trackball," Greer said. "There are a lot of Flash games that don't use it, that are just using your mouse to just drag stuff around, or to just click on stuff." A bigger problem, Greer explained, was the number of games that make use of a physical keyboard, which as mentioned earlier, developers are going back to reprogram on-screen controls to solve for those on touch-screen-only devices.

Besides the mobile-ready directory of games, Greer said the company is working on a native application. This will include Kongregate's achievements system, as well as a way for players to play some games offline, two things that cannot be done through the mobile site just yet.

Kongregate is not the only Flash gaming site to prep its presentation for Android users. Armor Games and Nickelodeon have readied mobile-friendly versions of their sites as well.