Google Gets A Gaming BackboneBy: Paul Williams - May 14, 2013
Taking cues from Apple’s Game Center (which in turn likely took cues from Microsoft’s Xbox), Google appears to be adding a system-level gaming service to its Android operating system. Leaked late last week, the Google Play Games service, rumored to be officially announced at Google I/O, should add leaderboards, achievements, cloud saves and more.
With a variety of Android-powered gaming devices like the OUYA and Gamestick on the horizon, a solid gaming service could help legitimize Android as a gaming platform. Of course console and PC gamers won’t be shocked by any of the rumored features—they’ve been enjoying many of them for years on their respective systems, but that doesn’t make them any less welcome. Here’s what you could expect from these features on your Android device:
Yes your app purchases are backed up—you can register any Android device and re-download any purchases—but your progress is not. Right now, anything you unlock on Temple Run 2 on your phone will have to be earned again if you pick up the game on your tablet. Cloud saves make it easier to transition between devices—plus acts as an incentive to own more than one Android-powered device.
Notifications & Leaderboards
Know when your friends are playing certain games and receive invites to join them. Get a notification when someone beats your high score and knocks you down the leaderboard.
Microsoft popularized the achievement system with the Xbox. Some form of achievements have made their way into almost every gaming platform available. Now instead of getting awards on a game-by-game basis, they could be system-wide and easier to compare with others.
In-game chat & matchmaking
With high-quality, console-like multiplayer games coming to Android, in-game chat and matchmaking are a must. Making this part of the gaming services backbone and not leaving it up to developers should help standardize matchmaking and make it easier to implement into games that otherwise wouldn’t have it.
These features might seem like relatively small additions to the OS, but they’re an excellent foundation for Google to build on. Together with Chrome and cross platform Chrome to Android games, Google could become its own, truly mobile, device agnostic, gaming platform.
If the rumors are true, we’ll hopefully see the game services update sometime this summer.