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.”
Google Launching New Gaming Features at Game Developers Conference
The GDC, which the organization describes as the world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event, is being held March 17-21 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Today, some 23,000 game-related attendees come to the event, according to the group. The event began as an informal gathering of about 25 developers in a living room 27 years ago and is now a weeklong conference.
Google is often busy updating its gaming platforms for players and developers. In January 2014, Google released a new Version 4.1 of Google Play Services, giving Android developers a chance to build more new features into their applications, including turn-based multiplayer support and improved battery life capabilities. Some of the key features of the new version are that it supports turn-based multiplayer games, and it also includes a preliminary API for integrating Google Drive into apps, which improves battery life for all users with Google Location Reporting enabled.
Google Play Games, which is Google’s gaming platform for Android and iOS devices and for the Web, was introduced by the company in early 2013. Changes to the Google Play store in February 2014 made it easier for game developers to categorize and market their game apps. New categories that were introduced, such as Simulation, Role Playing and Educational, will help customers find the games and help developers match their wares to customers who are seeking them.
In December 2013, Google introduced new gaming features for Android apps developers, including the ability to add realistic two-dimensional physics actions to their games for fans.
In November 2013, Google launched an inexpensive language translation service for Android developers to help them get their apps translated so they can sell them in other countries. The new service is expected to cost from about $75 for a small app to about $150 for a large app for each language translation.
The App Translation Service, which was previewed in May 2013 at the Google I/O developer’s conference, helps Android developers find new markets for their apps. Many app developers participated in the App Translation Service pilot program earlier this year, including the developers of “Zombie Ragdoll,” who used the service to launch their new game simultaneously in 20 languages in August 2013.
In October 2013, Google added several new developer tools to its maturing Google Play Games platform so that developers can continue to improve and grow their game apps for consumers and gaming fanatics. The upgrades included new alerts to developers for errant coding or other problems that are found in the apps they are building for consumers, as well as new features that make it easier to see and review statistics about players and their activities with the apps, right in the Google Play Developer Console. Also added was more cloud storage so that players can save their games for play at a later date using Cloud Save, which is one of the most popular features for Android game developers.
In July 2013, Google began a push to encourage Android developers to create more games for tablets to attract game players to the popular devices. To help grow that market more, Google released its new Google Play Games app, which lets game players link up with friends online to see what they are playing and play together.
In April 2013, Google’s Play store gained new capabilities that allow app developers to better showcase their new apps when consumers search for them using their mobile devices in the app-filled store. App developers can now upload screen shots of their apps running on 7-inch and 10-inch tablets so consumers can see what those apps will look like on their similar devices, which Google and the developers hope will continue to spur even more sales of innovative and useful apps in the store.
Google Play, which was created in March 2012 to combine what until then were separate sites where Android lovers could buy their favorite apps, music and ebooks, has been a huge hit. Before Google Play, users had to shop through the individual Android Market, Google Music and Google e-Bookstore sites.