The Google Play store -- that's the name of the Android "app store," or the "Android Market" for those of you new to the change -- is featuring dozens of game and app sales for Android smartphones and tablets. Well, actually, it's not; you can see some of the discounted apps on the front page, but there's no special section of the website or on-device market that says where the ones on sale are, or even how to find them. And the "Holiday Surprise" feature is only a handful of deals picked by Google itself.
Here's a look at some of the major game publishers' Android sales, along with discounted creativity apps and where to find more details.
Gameloft's "Android Christmas" sale
It may be too late for Hanukkah this year, but top-tier Android publisher Gameloft has put a dozen of its titles up for sale for Christmas just $0.99 . These games are normally in the $5-7 range, making them among Android's priciest.
Besides its licensed games based on movies -- like superhero films "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," and (inexplicably) "The Adventures of Tintin" -- Gameloft is best known for creating mobile versions of popular PC and console games. Not in the sense that they are official ports, so much as that they're remarkably similar, to the extent that they arguably could be official ports if the serial numbers were filed off. With that in mind, several of its Modern Combat (which are totally not Modern Warfare) and N.O.V.A. first-person shooters (which are totally not Halo) are included in the sale, although the most recent installment of the former -- Modern Combat 4 -- is not.
Superhero fans may also want to check out Marvel Games' Avengers Initiative, which isn't a Gameloft title but is also on sale for $0.99 .
Best known for having invented the jRPG genre, Square-Enix has brought several of its most popular titles to Android, and most of them are discounted (from their extremely high launch prices) for the holidays.
Crystal Defender, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy have all received numerous 1-star reviews on Google Play for technical issues, and reviewers complain that the titles haven't been optimized for Android hardware. The Chaos Rings titles, however, fare much better with reviewers, and are much more steeply discounted as well, at $3.99 each compared to their usual price of $12.99. They're ports of the iOS originals, which were Square-Enix's first attempts at making "real" jRPGs for mobile devices.
SEGA's Holiday Sale
SEGA's games are on sale for the holidays across the board, on pretty much every platform. On Android, that mostly amounts to Sonic 4 (episodes 1 and 2) and Sonic CD, all of which are on sale for $0.99 . Strategy title Total War Battles and rollerblade platformer Jet Set Radio, meanwhile, are on sale for $1.99.
Creativity / productivity apps on sale
Android phones and tablets aren't just for gaming. If you didn't pick up Microsoft Office-compatible OfficeSuite Pro 6+ during Google's earlier $0.25 sale, it's discounted to $0.99 now from its regular price of $14.99. Autodesk's professional drawing apps, SketchBook Mobile and SketchBook Pro for Tablets, are $0.99 and $2.99 compared to $1.99 and $4.99 regularly, and the Jotter handwriting app -- which requires a Samsung Galaxy Note -- is half-off at $1.99.
Stay up to date
Many more Android games and apps are being discounted for the holidays. Apps such as (the aptly-named) AppSales can help keep you apprised of the latest additions. Meanwhile, the Android Police blog is maintaining an up-to-date "Enormous List" of all holiday sales.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.