At a recent Google breakfast event, hosted by Android chief Sundar Pichai, the company announced a slew of additions to its Android platform, including a new application called Google Play Games. The gaming app brings together a game store with social features such as the ability to view the activity of your friends straight from the application and to display achievements. Also, Google has made it easier to find tablet games with a new section dedicated to games optimized for use with tablets so that tablet users no longer have to scour the app store for compatible apps.
Google, following in the footsteps of companies like Apple and Microsoft, who have their own social game hubs, is creating its own unified gaming experience on Android with the Google Play Games app. According to the app description, users can use the app for discovery (including finding multiplayer games to join), playing directly with friends, and comparing scores with other players. The application uses Google+ to connect users with friends, much as games with Facebook integration.
The application is meant to work in unison with Google Play game services, announced earlier this year. At that point, the service allowed developers, for the first time, to add social features such as achievements, leaderboards, and cloud saving to their Android apps. In that regard, the Google Play Games app is more of a discovery application than a stand-alone service.
Google’s unified gaming experience competes with the healthy user bases of Apple’s Game Center and Microsoft’s Xbox Live integration. With more users turning to mobile games rather than to dedicated systems, the stakes are high for companies like Google to capture the transitioning audience, to build up their platform to offer the most games and the latest social features, and to persuade developers to commit to Android. Developers don’t need coaxing, though. With the new features announced earlier this year and a central hub to discover games, Google is providing more opportunities for developers to engage and to retain customers.
According to CNET, Google said at a July 24 press conference that 19 out of the top 20 game developers are building games on the platform. Google also said that “millions” of people are playing games on the platform, utilizing the game services announced earlier this year. In all, it looks as if Google is paving the way with an impressive number of developers and users. The Google Play Games app is available now on Android and currently holds a 4.5-star rating in the Play Store.
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