3D Avatars for Gameloft LIVE! Social Mobile Gaming ServiceGlobal games publisher Gameloft announced today its new gaming hub service, Gameloft Live. In a move that should surprise no one, the company has taken the concept and the name of a console gaming service (Xbox Live) and repurposed it for the mobile space with a dedicated Android app, available now, and a soon-to-be-released iOS app.

According to the press release, Gameloft Live is a new version of the multiplayer service already in many Gameloft-published games and used by over seven million players. The new dedicated mobile app will allow users to create a 3D avatar and virtually connect with friends who also use the service to play games, chat, and see their accomplishments across the Gameloft gaming scene. The new hub will also incentivize players with gifts and avatar accessories, again similar to the console service.

It’s interesting to note that Gameloft is not the first games publisher to this space, as Ngmoco/DeNA launched Mobage this past summer, GREE acquired OpenFeint this past April, and Tapjoy connected with PapayaMobile to provide a similar social mobile service last November. Gameloft Live is entering an already crowded social mobile gaming space, hoping it has the winning combination of games, rewards, and user loyalty to come out on top.

Why are all these companies creating their own mobile social networks? In a sea of apps on both platforms (iOS has over 500,000 apps, the majority of them games), discovering games has become a serious issue. The App Store, Android Marketplace, and Amazon Appstore are the only viable markets for apps, but these are like small doors opening on a huge number of competing and sometimes look-alike apps, confusing savvy and newbie consumers alike. A mobile social network with its requisite avatars, social connections, and virtual rewards make it more likely that consumers will discover apps within that social network more often. Hence the current trend.

Gameloft is based in France and publishes and develops both original and franchised games on all major gaming platforms, including consoles and mobile devices. It is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN: FR0000079600, Bloomberg: GFT FP, Reuters: GLFT.PA).