Google is launching myriad new gaming capabilities for Android fans as well as expanded new capabilities for Android game developers at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.
The new features and tools are part of Google's continuously expanding efforts to bolster the Android ecosystem for gaming lovers and for app developers who want to increase their product lines on the platform, Greg Hartrell of the Google Play Games team wrote in a March 17 post on the Android Developers Blog.
"Today, everyone is a gamer," wrote Hartrell. "In fact, 3 in every 4 Android users are playing games, allowing developers to reach an unprecedented audience of players in an Android ecosystem that's activated over one billion devices. This has helped Google Play Games—Google's cross-platform game service and SDK for Android, iOS and the Web (which lets you easily integrate features like achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer and cloud save into your games)—grow at tremendous speed. The momentum continues on Google Play, where four times more money was paid out to developers in 2013 than in 2012."
With those statistics in mind, the new features will launch over the coming weeks to help users "unlock the power of Google to take your games to the next level," he wrote.
Among the new features are "game gifts," which is a new service that lets players send virtual in-game objects to anyone in their circles or through player search, wrote Hartrell. "The Play Games app now supports multiplayer invites directly, further helping players discover your game and keep them playing. And the Google Play Store will also feature 18 new game categories, making it easier for players to find games they'll love."
In addition, Google is expanding multiplayer capabilities to support iOS, "bringing turn-based and real-time multiplayer capabilities to both Android and iOS," he wrote.
Google is also enhancing cross platform game development by updating its Play Games Unity Plug-in to support cross-platform multiplayer services, Hartrell wrote, as well as introducing an early Play Games C++ SDK that will support player achievements and leaderboards.
For developers at GDC, Google will unveil new enhanced Play Games statistics on the Google Play Developer Console, which will now provide easy game analytics for Play Games adopters, wrote Hartrell. "Developers will gain a daily dashboard that visualizes player and engagement statistics for signed-in users, including daily active users, retention analysis and achievement, and leaderboard performance."
Developers will also gain new marketing tools in the AdMob platform to help them make more money for their apps. "We're making Google Analytics available directly in the AdMob interface, so you can gain deeper insights into how users are interacting with your app," wrote Hartrell. "Turning those insights into effective action is vital, so we're excited by the opportunities that in-app purchase ads will offer—enabling you to target users with specific promotions to buy items in your game. Advertising continues to be a core vehicle driving many game developers' success, so we're also bringing you new ways to optimize your ads to earn the most revenue."