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Google launches Android game vending machines in Japan

With the smartphone revolution mobile apps and games have become commodities that are an integral part of our lives. While physical distribution of digital content is not new, big players like Google have not really tried their hands at it.

All that was true until today. Google has now launched Android game vending machines in the Japanese market.

So Android smartphone owners in Japan would be able to load games on to their devices through these vending machine by simply inserting coins.

According to a report by Engadget, Google has announced three dedicated Google Play machines in front of the Parco department store in Shibuya, Tokyo, that will offer 18 gaming titles including both free and paid-for titles. However, to download these games from the vending machines, a user would need a smartphone running Android 4.0 or above and NFC support.

The machine features a tray just below the screen where the phone can be placed and paired via NFC. The touchscreen allows users to navigate through categories and titles and see screenshots, ratings and reviews. The machine even rewards users with goodies for trying out other apps.

Google is also demoing the capability to users who don't have an Android phone through a Nexus 4 smartphone placed with the machines. It appears that the machines will be guarded by Google employees.

As the report notes, the machines have only been installed in Japan.

While physical distribution of apps and content makes sense in emerging markets where a large number of people don't have credit cards or good Internet connectivity (especially for large gaming titles), deploying this in connected markets like Japan appears to be nothing more than a gimmick. Perhaps Google would be better off implementing this in markets like India where it doesn't have any tie-ups with telecom operators for integrated billing to promote paid-for apps.