Google has been making strides in catching up to Apple’s iOS as far as gaming goes. Typically, a lot of games have been introduced first on iOS. Once they achieve some success, then the developers work on bringing the game out for the Android platform. In many cases there has been a significant delay before the Android release. That has begun to change, however – a trend that Google would like to encourage. As a step in that direction, they have just released updates for both the Google Play Games app and Google Play Games Services.
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Cross-platform multiplayer games for both iOS and Android
The biggest news of all was that the new version of the Games Services toolkit will enable companies to design cross-platform multiplayer games that users can play on both Android and iOS. If developers embrace this, it could be the end of the frustrating situation where iPhone users can’t play with their Android-loving friends, and vice versa.
Greg Hartrell, the Google Play Games lead product manager, said that 2013 was a breakout year for them. He said Google Play Games is growing faster than any other gaming network in history. Given that Google passed a billion Android device activations last fall, and they say that three out of four Android users play games on their devices, that are certainly an enormous audience of gamers.
To offer even more assistance to the cross-platform game development, Google wants to update their Play Games Unity Plug-in in order to support the services of a cross-platform multiplayer; and they’re even considering introducing a Play Games C++ SDK to bear leaderboards and achievements. Hence, Play Games adopters will benefits from easy game analytics. Developers will have a dashboard at their disposal that allows them to see engagement statistics and visualize players, including active users, achievements, and retention analysis.
An improved gaming experience
Multiplayer games are all about playing with your friends, and it has been an on-going annoyance that people cannot play with all of their friends. If you have an iPhone, you can only play with your Apple-using friends, and the same was true for Android. This new announcement could alleviate that problem. The new services will allow developers to create multiplayer games, both real time and turn by turn games, which can involve players who are on both Android and iOS. In addition to improving the gaming experience for end users, this could mean increased customer retention for games, because people could play with a bigger group of their friends. Todd Kerpelman, a Google developer advocate, said “We want everyone to play together. I’m aware that’s a little bit touchy-feely […] but in all honesty, it’s the truth.”
Simple game search
Other changes announced by Google can make it easier for people to find games they want, and for developers to improve the monetization of their games. The Google Play Store is adding 18 new categories for games, making it easier for users to find a game they like, and easier for game developers to have their games discovered. Instead of fairly generic categories like “Casual”, people will now be able to browse through specific types like “Role playing games”.
There is also a new ability to build gifting into games. Players can use this to send in-game items to friends in their circles on Google+, which can increase both engagement and discovery. Game developers will appreciate the improved statistics they have available to track daily users, measure engagement, and more. Google is also integrating analytics with AdMob, their mobile advertising platform. This would enable games to create specific ads for in-game purchases, and target them to certain players.
Jason Phillips is the writer to this article. He is a gamer and passionate supporter of everything about gaming. He also owns some online gaming sites such as Train Games 365 where you can enjoy lots of train games.