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Amazon's Kindle Fire: The next gaming console?

Amazon.com has been quietly recruiting game developers, posting dozens of jobs on its site

Amazon.com has been quietly recruiting game developers, posting dozens of jobs on its site.

Why this burst of interest in game design from the world's largest online retailer? P.J. McNealy, founder of Digital World Research, believes that Amazon is amassing resources to potentially become a force in mobile social gaming.

While traditional video games aren't going away, that part of the industry is also not growing very fast. Mobile and social games, however, are booming. Gaming on tablets, in particular, is taking off.

Amazon is well positioned to capitalize on that because it is the No. 2 player in the tablet market, with its array of rapidly selling Kindle devices trailing only Apple Inc.'s iPads, McNealy suggested in a research note published Monday.

The idea is that Amazon could become the next big gaming platform -- acting as a hardware and software gateway for games in the same way that the PlayStation, Wii and Xbox have for decades.

"Amazon is quietly lurking, and gaining strength," McNealy wrote. "And they’re hiring."

Positions being offered include level game designer, digital video game software engineer and "game changer." In one job posting, Amazon said, "We've been hard at work building various games." The post said the company wants "a creative Game Designer who knows what it takes to make a great game and has experience doing so." The jobs are generally located in Seattle and Orange County

Amazon is not new to games. Aside from being one of the largest purveyors of disc-based games, it has for years operated a digital game download service on its website -- delivering casual and hard-core computer games. It also has an App Store with more than 6,000 applications for Android and Kindle devices, including such popular games as Angry Birds.

Though Amazon did not specify in its job postings what types of games it's working on, McNealy posits that the next battleground is social games. Facebook currently reigns supreme in this genre, with hundreds of millions of people playing on its social network each month. Could Amazon be eyeing the No. 2 spot? 

The company did not reply to a message from The Times seeking comment. 

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-- Alex Pham

Photo: The lineup of Kindle devices from Amazon. Credit: Amazon.com Inc.

 
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