Since the introduction of the Google Play Games service, Android users have received some great integration from developers starting with leaderboards, achievements and recently multi-player invites now Google is adding more features, starting with the ability to share in-game gifts with your friends, and the big one, cross platform gaming between the two biggest mobile platforms – Android and iOS.
The push towards mobile gaming has been timed to coincide with the Game Developers Conference 2014(GDC) which is taking place right now at the home of Google IO, the Moscone Centre in San Francisco. All the big names are there, from Amazon to Google and game development platform Unity, and it’s Unity which is the basis of the cross platform feature with Google releasing a new plugin for Unity which enables developers to add turn-based and real-time multiplayer gaming.
But as not all games are developed in Unity, Google is also releasing a C++ based SDK outside of the Unity platform which will be the basis to introduce achievements and leaderboards, but will surely expand in the future, as more developers adopt it. Also released are new Play Games statistics information which will be available on the Google Play Developer Console. The new dashboard will provide analytics allowing developers to visualise data surrounding player and engagement statistics for signed in users and also provide information on daily active users, retention analysis and achievement, and leaderboard performance.
It’s not quite what we want – the ability to gift a game to someone from Google Play – but players will soon be able to send virtual in-game objects to friends within their circles. This of course will mean you have to purchase in-game objects to gift to friends, which of course is good for the hip pocket of both developers and Google.
Google is seeing a massive increase in activity on Google Play, citing a four-fold increas in the amount of money paid out to developers in 2013 than was paid out in 2012. That sort of increase warrants an investment in the platform and these announcements are surely just the beginning.
Which do you feel is more important? Gifting in-game objects or Cross Platform gaming?