At Google I/O, Google announced its new Google Play game services that includes cloud game saves, achievements, leaderboards, and easy multiplayer matching services. Many of these features such as achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer are things console gamers have taken for granted since Microsoft’s Xbox 360 with cloud saves being a newer option PlayStation Plus subscribers have available. Now all of these features are coming to Android, which is quickly becoming a strong gaming platform with hardware like the Ouya and Nvidia’s Project Shield. Cloud saves, achievements, and leaderboards will also be cross-platform with iOS and the web, so gamers with friends on an iPhone (this is just about everyone, right?) can still take advantage of these features assuming developers implement them across platforms. With all of these features, Google is sending a strong message about gaming and its Android platform: come develop and play your games here – we’ll make it easy for you.
The Cloud Unites All Our Devices
Today, people have more than one device that they use on a daily basis. While they’re out and about, their smartphone is the gateway to entertainment. However, once these same people come home, the focus often moves away from the phone and to the person’s tablet. With Android, it may even move to the Ouya console at home to take advantage of a large HDTV. With so many devices and screens, it’s important that gamers can simply pick up their game from exactly where they left off without moving a save file around. The cloud unites all of our devices by storing the save data online. Now players can complete Stage 1 on the train ride home and pick up again right on Stage 2 on their Ouya when they get home. This feature is so critical that it was just a few days ago that Rovio, creator of Angry Birds, announced its own cloud solution by having players create a Rovio account. However, with Google’s new service, all developers can take advantage of such an important feature without having to create the infrastructure themselves. Not only does Google help developers save time on creating infrastructure, but it also helps players get back to what really matters: playing the games.
Achievements, Leaderboards, and Multiplayer Bring the Social
Gamers who play on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 are already quite familiar with achievements and leaderboards that provide players with incentives to work toward and an easy way to compare their own skill against that of their friends or the entire world. Even multiplayer is something every gamer understands and has taken for granted with console games that easily pair them with other players to play with or against. While I personally have never been a fan of achievements or leaderboards because I rather not compare myself to anyone else, all three of these features are things any serious gaming platform needs. These three features will find synergy with Google’s social network Google+, providing gamers with an easy way to play with friends and compare themselves to their friends. Not only that, but new friends made through playing Android games can easily be put into their own circle on Google+ for quick invites to play a certain multiplayer game. This is a big plus for Google+ whose browser games were never quite well received, so it comes as no surprise that Google is already shuttering Google+ games. In its place will rise a stronger gaming network that isn’t tied to playing games in a browser when friends are sitting at a computer – instead, every Android device is now a gateway for friends to play with each other, while Google+ helps connect them.
Bring On the Games
There has never been a better time to be a gamer on mobile. Now armed with cloud saves, achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer matching all supported by Google’s social network, gaming on Android has a strong infrastructure behind it that console players are used to. Sure, many mobile games are not up to par with a console experience, but that is quickly changing as developers become more comfortable implementing their game’s vision on mobile and as processing power and memory increases. With these new features, Google is saying it takes gaming seriously and with over 900 million activated Android devices, game developers would be foolish to ignore Android. For mobile gamers, this was a game changer that many won’t realize until they’re playing the latest version of Angry Birds and suddenly earn an achievement for decimating piggies.