Amazon launches GameCircle to boost Kindle Fire games

Amazon (s amzn) is getting more serious about gaming on the Kindle Fire with the introduction of GameCircle, a social engagement layer for developers who want to add achievements, leaderboards and cloud syncing to their games. The service is Amazon’s answer to Apple’s Game Center (s aapl) and is designed to help game developers keep their users involved.
Developers who tap the GameCircle APIs will be able to include achievements so gamers can track all kinds of trophies, badges and awards and receive message and updates without having to leave a game. They can just pause the action and check on their status before returning to the game. A new leaderboard feature will allow players to compare scores and rankings against other players inside the game.
True to Amazon’s cloud emphasis, GameCircle offers a syncing feature that saves the progress of players in the game in the cloud, so they can return to that point when starting up the game again. What’s cool is that it will remember your progress even when you switch tablets, which is not the case for many games played across multiple devices.
Amazon has tried to make the Kindle Fire a major target for developers. It’s built up its own Appstore for Android store, which has proven to be a big driver for many paid apps. Flurry reported in March that Amazon Appstore revenue per active user was 89 percent compared to iTunes App Store revenue and well ahead of Google’s app store. Google, by the way, is also reportedly looking at launching its own version of Game Center for Android. Amazon turned on in-app purchase in apps in April, enabling a key monetization tool for developers. More recently, it opened its Appstore to apps from UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in a move that suggests the Kindle Fire may be ready to move beyond the U.S.; its only market currently.
Now, expectations are high for Amazon to roll out new Kindle Fire devices. There is also a lot of speculation around Amazon launching its own smartphone, which could also take advantage of Appstore for Android and GameCircle.
If Amazon really wants to compete for developer attention, it makes sense to keep building out its suite of developer tools. Combined with a broader selection of devices, it can really start to appeal to a wider group of developers. We’ve been talking about whether Windows Phone (s msft) or BlackBerry (s rimm) will be the third ecosystem to compete against iOS and Android (s goog). But Amazon is making moves suggesting it eventually wants to be that competitor.