The Amazon Kindle is easily one of the top inventions of the past 10 years. A portable device which I can carry around with me, containing an entire library, and which will let me easily read my books wherever I go. Plus, I can read the latest heavy hardback books without needing to develop new arm muscles to hold the books up. It’s a design miracle.
Whilst a lot has been said about the marketing opportunities for selling books on the Kindle (and those are great opportunities), there’s another option which has been quietly passing people by. That’s about developing simple games for the Kindle which will work well on the monochrome screen and operate within the Kindle’s e-ink screen refresh rate.
Here are four types of games, all simple to develop, which sell like crazy on the Kindle. These are perfect to use as idea generators for the types of games that you can develop.
Game Type #1 – Newspaper Puzzles
I’m using newspaper puzzles to reflect those types of puzzles which you could find printed in any daily newspaper. For instance, these include crossword puzzles, Sudoku and variants like KenKen, Cryptograms and word searches. These dominate the top Kindle active content listings.
This is an excellent market to get involved in, as you can write software to generate many of these puzzles (or use existing software to produce them). Create an appropriate interface, and you can sell the results in bundles of 50 or so puzzles. You can release multiple volumes all powered by the same interface, or look at ways to classify the puzzles by their difficulty level. This will increase the market that you can reach using this game type.
Game Type #2 – Card Games
There are thousands of card games out there with instructions in the public domain. Each each one of these could be converted to work in the Kindle format.
A good place to start is with solitaire games. Those games that require more than one player can also be implemented with some simple artificial intelligence. There are also various gambling type card games available on the Kindle, such as poker and blackjack.
Just because there is already a version of a particular card game on the Kindle doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for another. It can be made into a better playing experience, or priced more competitively than the competition. You can also bundle card games together. At the time of writing, there’s even a request for a version of Bridge to be produced for the Kindle, which is an excellent opportunity.
Game Type #3 – Choose Your Own Adventure Style Games
This is a type of game that doesn’t dominate the Kindle charts, but does have a sizeable audience. These are based around the idea of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which were very popular in the 1980s, but have had a resurgence since then. The books are structured initially like a standard fiction novel, but every so often the reader is presented with a choice (will you open the door and face the horrors behind – or will you drink the green bubby potion that you’re carrying in your backpack?). The choice directs the reader to a different section of the book, and then they find out whether or not their choice was a good one.
This style of book is ideally placed to bring to the Kindle, which can handle the different choices and displaying the subsequent pieces of text automatically. The book doesn’t even have to be very long and this can be an excellent creative opportunity for the right writer. It’s also well worth developing a simple interface which can be used for multiple books.
Other books of this type which have been converted for the Kindle include the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series. These add elements of chance to the outcomes and choices, increasing replayability, but without the need for the reader to carry dice (again, this is handled by the Amazon Kindle). Some people might also know this game type as interactive fiction.
Game Type #4 – Strategic Kindle Puzzlers
I want to differentiate these from the newspaper style puzzles already mentioned. These are more standard puzzle games of the type you might see sold as a simple game for a mobile telephone, or which were very popular in shareware type game releases around 20 years ago. These could be as simple as jigsaw type puzzles, or ones where blocks need to be moved around to create a pattern. There are examples selling well in the Kindle store which involve clearing a path for a ball to move, or a robot to reach its destination.
The best type of puzzle games involve a number of levels where players have to think and consider their moves carefully. A game like Angry Birds, very popular on other platforms, embodies this view, where players have to launch a bird at a selected trajectory to cause a desired result. Generally each level needs only to take a few minutes to play, but the difficulty between levels should increase, giving the player a reason to try and get through all the levels and reach the end of the game.
More Kindle Game Ideas
One thing that’s well worth doing it visiting the Kindle games store and checking out the types of games that are selling the best right now. Generally, these are swayed slightly by the short-term promotions that Amazon offers on certain titles, but you can always browse the newest releases and their reviews. You may also want to view my guide, Kindle Game Creation Manual, which provides more detail on the whole game development process.
The four types of games I’ve listed here are all excellent starting points for your own development ideas.
Your Thoughts On Kindle Games
As usual, I’d really like to read your thoughts on the Kindle game market.
Do you think that these are the best types of games to develop? Are there any that I’ve missed?
Have you had success publishing a game for the Amazon Kindle, or do you have plans to do so?
Just use the comment box below and you can share your thoughts with all the blog readers and me.
12 replies on “Four Types Of Amazon Kindle Games That Sell Like Crazy”
Great to read your articles again.
I don't have a kindle myself, but it sure seems interesting to get one.
It seems like you have covered a broad market of games, but I would like to add one.
And that would be scrabble. I am playing that on my iPhone and I like it a lot. Would that be possible?
I must add also that it feels good to hear from you and that it seems to be more calm over there now. I hope it will continue that way.
It's been a few busy (and crazy) weeks, hence the lack of blog posts and WSOs (and I've even been low on the number of emails I've been sending out and forum posts I've been making).
We did have a lot of chaos in the UK, but it's been quiet now for a couple of weeks, so hopefully that's the back of it. There's still the odd boarded up window, but most things are back to normal.
I do own Scrabble on both the iPhone and the Kindle (and even the board game somewhere). The Kindle version plays very well considering there's no touch screen (the mini keyboard is good for entering the words).
You couldn't directly reproduce Scrabble due to copyright issues, although there are plenty of word games on the Kindle. Even the iPhone has a Scrabble like app (called 'Words With Friends') which is very close to Scrabble rules, but more popular, mainly I think because you can play random people around the world.
The Kindle limitation is that respect is that you can only really play solo games, or against a computer AI (there probably are ways to use the Internet functionality, but I've not seen anyone take advantage of them yet).
I do recommend the Kindle. I know people who hardly read books but were into technology and owning a Kindle has made them read again. Of course, I've always read books, and always will read them, so that's not really an issue for me.
I've actually been talking about this with my mum just recently as she is a big time reader of books & an even bigger crossword fanatic. I asked her what she thought about the whole Kindle thing & if she might like one at some stage as she started asking questions about it after seeing it being advertised on TV (Shes 65 by the way).
Here is what she liked:
#1: Ease of use
#2: Storage of multiple books
#3: Games related to traditional types of physical book reading. e.g crosswords
Here is what she didn't like:
#1: It doesn't feel like a book
#2: It doesn't smell like a book
I guess you can't win em all… but I'm thinking of getting her one anyway & making a paper mache cover (so it feels like a book) & finding some sort of scent to make it smell like paper (hehe).
I will let you know how that pans out 🙂
I use a leather cover for mine (it comes from Oberon Leather, a US firm who make covers that are perfect to hold – I like the feel and their designs so much I've imported a few covers to the UK). That make the Kindle feel much more like a real book. I find the official covers a bit stiff. There are lots of more 'artsy' and home made ones on Etsy as well.
I do find the portability (I travel a lot) a big plus, but even reading it bed is easier than heavy books. And it's handy finding an interesting book at the bookshop on the way to get a train, then ordering the same book for instant delivery to the Kindle cheaper (and without having to carry it around).
For crosswords, it will likely take your mum a little getting used to the interface for entering them, depending how good she normally is with technology. All the actual book reading is very straightforward and you can't really go wrong (and things like being able to alter the font size is a big plus).
I wanted to buy a kindle for my dad last month. One of my top criteria was it should be able to connect to internet and have a browser, so that my dad can read the Bengali newspapers he loves so much to read online.
Unfortunately, the latest kindle was getting kinda negative reviews because of wifi not working or the browser crashing. Did you experience any problems with Wifi or the browser? Also, I wanted to ask if it works with fonts of different languages?
Your post on game development is very interesting. I should explore this topic more
Hi Kamran, I've never had a problem with the wifi connection for my Kindle (or the 3G connection). I'm not a big user of the Internet browser though, mainly because I'm always near a computer or a phone, which is a better Internet browsing experience.
I do read newspapers, but I get them sent automatically do the Kindle. There's a good piece of software called Calibre which you can use to send different feeds directly to the Kindle too, which might be useful. It's definitely easier to transfer the document to the Kindle in some form and then read it, rather than try to read it as a web page.
The language issue isn't one I've checked as I only read books in English, however I've just checked and there are various non-Latin languages supported. I think that would be a question that someone could answer much better than me, however.
As with Stefan, I don’t have a Kindle, never even seen one, but if I had one word games would be my preferred choice. There’s a particular type of ‘crossword’ that I enjoy very much, but it isn’t very often found – maybe I should develop one for Kindle! Very good post, thanks for sharing.
Enjoy the journey.
It’s probably hard to visualise just how powerful and useful these devices are Mandy when you don’t have access to one, but I can’t fault mine for convenience (even being able to choose a new book that I want to read from the convenience of my own living room). I’ve still got shelves full of books too though that I’d never replace.
A lot of people do crosswords and other word games on the Kindle, so there’s always a market for these, particularly crosswords, where once you get the software correct, you can keep releasing new volumes of puzzles as long as people want to do them. Probably one of the best of the Kindle games markets to try.
Good read. I love my kindle, and playing soduku and crosswords are my favorite. I need to come up with my own game so I can cash in on this!
That’s another vote for crosswords then, Jim. Someone should run with this, as there’s a massive market for niche. You can go for very specific types of crosswords as well.
The Kindle might not be a good platform to develop for due to Amazon’s own restrictive (and perhaps greedy) policies. The “Free App of the Day” compensation issues especially continue to sully the waters. Also, some have objected to Amazon’s tendency to censor “objectionable” content. It is also notable that a big proportion of paid downloads go to Kindle Fire owners.
Russell, that’s true to some extent, but the vast majority of app stores have restrictions that you have to work within, so Amazon aren’t really any different.
The Kindle Fire is a new development since this article was written, but that’s really looking at a standard Android development. I see the potential much more related to the traditional design Kindles complete with e-paper. There’s no “free app of the day” available for that system yet, so still plenty of potential to make money.