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The Play Market’s miserable search ability and tips on finding hidden gems

If you are like me, you like to search the Play market for new games. I get no bigger thrill than when I find a neat little game to review or to kill a few hours with, but coming across those games can be harder than it seems. What do you do when you have no idea where to start?

 Heck, I’ve been covering games for years and still have issues locating the good ones. Here are a few tips that I use:

First, find a good website. Hey, look, you’re on one! Seriously, though, one of the most important weapons in your searching toolbelt is a good website and community. DroidGamers (or, I guess, any other good site) will often host a community of readers or commenters that can give advice to help you find games. I often just troll around on this site to find comments that indicate a cool game, or a game to avoid.

Next, social media. Use Twitter, Facebook or Google + to join groups or use hashtags to get to know community members. One of the very best uses of social media is to contact developers or PR people directly. Now, be careful and respectful when you shout out to your favorite game developer or team member, but remember that they would not be on Twitter if they were not there for communication. Also remember that they are not there to respond to issues with a game. If you have a problem with a title, you need to go through the proper channels.

Sure, I already have quite a few contacts that allow me to meet more contacts, and if I ask a question of a developer it’s almost guaranteed to get answered. Even then I still find great games simply by asking on Twitter. I’ll have recommendations Tweeted to me all the time. Even from my co-workers here at the site! Want an easy way to locate games? Go to your favorite developer or publisher and see if they offer a Twitter connection. Click on it and Tweet to them about how you enjoy their games. They can probably recommend another one from their lineup.

The last place to look is, of course, the Play store and Google. Search, search and search. Be aware that many developers and publishers do not accurately describe their games, so they might be tacked under “strategy” when they are actually “simulation.” I usually put in a specific term and go from there, but I don’t give up after the first or third pages. You really have to keep digging on both the store and Google. Bloggers will often have good ideas or articles that show off games you have never heard of. The point is to never settle for just what the store shows you on the Featured page. Sure, there are some cool games on there but you want to dig around more than that. Unfortunately, most app stores are horrible when it comes to searching. They want to push the most profitable games first or want to recommend games that are easily digestible. Don’t settle… keep digging and you’ll probably find something you never expected.

Good luck. And remember, if you find a good title let me know. I always need new games to play on my ‘Droid. I can imagine that one day soon the developers will find new ways to get their games to people other than just putting them on the Play store or relying on press. Social media will likely play a larger part in things, as it allows developers to directly reach individual players. Hopefully the way we search for and find games will improve soon. Many of the bad first impressions of mobile gaming come from poor experiences with the Play store. After all, if the most readily available games are either the most popular or come from a handful of staff-recommended games, new visitors are only seeing a very small percentage of the potentially great games on the market.

We need a better way to find our games. Luckily sites like this one are attempting to filter out the choices, but players have to do some homework as well.

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