Google Introduces Tokyo to Android Game Vending Machines

Japan has vending machines for a wide array of products — from batteries, beverages and magazines to fresh fruit and vegetables. Google joined the fray this week with the trial introduction of Google Play game-dispensing vending machines. Three different machines will each sell a collection of 18 free-to-play and paid-for titles. Consumers with an NFC-enabled smartphone running Android 4.0 can stop in front of the Parco department store in Tokyo’s Shibuya district to access the games.

“We put the machine to the test with our LG G2 on hand, and had no troubles choosing and downloading a free game through the machine,” reports Engadget. “There’s a slick unified animation from the giant touchscreen (which looks almost identical to drinks machines elsewhere in the country) to your Android phone of choice when the download kicks in. Also, for trying out another Google app, you’ll get a ‘present’ which ‘drops’ down from the screen and into the vending tray once your download is complete.”

For gamers who do not have an Android phone, the machine offers a Nexus 4 for a tryout, which has to be returned to one of the nearby Google employees.

“Considering Android users can already download any of hundreds of thousands of games from just about any location, a large vending machine (offering only 18 titles as well as a Nexus 4) staffed by several employees suggests Google’s machines are merely a marketing gimmick to score its Android platform a little more publicity in a country where its market share is currently equal to that of Apple’s iOS,” suggests Digital Trends.

“Then again, considering Japan’s love of vending machines, a modified version placed around Tokyo’s entertainment districts with a few apps from companies paying for the space could possibly turn into a nice little earner for the Web giant.”