SAN FRANCISCO — Remember when your teacher made you sit in the corner after you did something bad and you would spend all that time thinking up crazy ideas for video games? Well, Google is bringing that feature to its Android app market … sorta.

Indie Corner is a new feature in the Google Play store that promotes more games from smaller studios. The company announced this initiative during its event as part of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The idea behind indie corner is to bring more attention to games from independent studios by maintaining an ever-present vertical inside of Google Play that is always showing cool new games from those companies. To take part, developers need to submit their game to Google for review. This could help some smaller studios get a piece of the $34.8 billion mobile gaming market while also giving Android more cachet with a core gaming audience that sees iOS as a far superior platform thanks to its history of support from developers.

GamesBeat asked Google how it defines an “indie game,” and the company laid out some of the criteria it is using.

“It has to be a relatively small company,” Google Play spokesperson Joshua Cruz told GamesBeat. “We think 11 to 15 employees — something along those lines. And then it’s the type of game. Is trying to do something creative or different stylistically.”

The term “indie” has taken on a nebulous meaning over the last 10 years as it seems to have more to do with what the end product looks and plays like than whether or not the studio responsible for the game is actually independently owned. And, technically, Valve — owner and operator of Steam — is independent. But Google recognizes that the term is strange, which is why it hasn’t built an algorithm to figure out what to include in Indie Corner.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be assessed by humans,” said Cruz. “They’ll make the call.”

And while Google wants great games, it also made it clear that it doesn’t hurt if a potential Indie Corner game exemplifies all of the services available to Google Play developers.


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