Over the past year, we’ve seen a steady rise in interest in Android gaming. From Kickstarter success stories like Ouya to major mobile manufacturers like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Game Pad, it’s clear that gaming on Android is starting to challenge mainstream console gaming. Google haven’t provided the best tools for making that happen though, until this week. At Google I/O, the company unveiled Google Play Game Services, a host of features that can be added by app developers. Let’s have a look at what’s on the cards.
Achievements and Leaderboards
Everyone’s favourite feature of modern gaming is surely achievements – nice intermediate stages that show off your mastery of a game, and that push players into directions they probably wouldn’t go by themselves. They’re available on Xbox Live, Steam and PSN, and now they’ll be available on Android too. There’s support for normal, secret and incremental achievements, pretty much the full range of what’s available on other platforms. The service also adds leaderboards, allowing you to see how you measure up both globally and against your Google+ friends.
Of course, matchmaking is a large component of the success of Xbox Live and Steam, allowing developers to allow easy competitive and cooperative gameplay without building their own backend. Now that’s coming to Android, with matchmaking done through your Google+ friends or the gaming public at large. Real-time multiplayer has been possible on Android before, but it’s never been this easy.
One of the most irritating things about owning multiple Android devices is transferring your save files and settings from one to another – in the past, you’ve had to either use a software solution like Helium or copy the files manually using a PC. Now, progression will be stored in the cloud so you’ll never have to repeat level 1 again.
While there’s nothing revolutionary here in comparison to other platforms like XBL or PSN, it’s great to see these staple feature finally represented by Google on Android. Interestingly, the same features will also be available for developers working in Chrome and iOS, a convincing argument for using Google services no matter what the platform
To check out the new features, try out one of the dozens of launch titles including World of Goo, Modern Combat 4, Osmos HD or Plague Inc. Thanks for reading the article and let me know what you think!