Google Play Games Bolstered With New Developer Features

Google says the new tools will make it easier for developers to build and configure their Google Play Games apps for players.

Google has 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, which include new alerts to developers for errant coding or other problems that are found in the apps they are building for consumers, were unveiled by Greg Hartrell of the Google Play Games team, in an Oct. 8 post on the Android Developers Blog. The new tools are being added into the growing Google Play Services tools, which are used by developers to add features and capabilities to their gaming apps. Google Play Games, which is Google's gaming platform for Android and iOS devices and for the Web, was introduced by the company earlier this year.

For developers, the new features will make it easier to see and review statistics about players and their activities with the apps, right in the Google Play Developer Console. This should allow them to gain insights into how players are using their games, wrote Hartrell. "You can see how many players have signed into your game through Google, the percentage of players who unlocked an achievement, and how many scores are posted to your leaderboards."

The new developer alerts will also be useful because they will quickly let game designers spot problems with code that needs to be corrected to make game play more seamless for players, wrote Hartrell. "Did you mangle the ID for an achievement or leaderboard?" he wrote. "Forget to hit the publish button? Do you know if your game is getting throttled because you accidentally called a method in a tight loop? Fear not! New alerts will now show up in the Developer Console to warn you when these mistakes happen, and guide you quickly to the answers on how to fix them."

Also new for developers in the updates is the addition of more cloud storage so that players can save their games for play at a later date. "Cloud Save is one of our most popular features for game developers, providing up to 512KB of data per user, per game, since it was introduced," wrote Hartrell. "You asked for more storage, and we are delivering on that request. Starting October 14th, 2013, you'll be able to store up to 256KB per slot, for a total of 1MB per user."

The feature additions are coming as players continue to use more games in the Android community, wrote Hartrell. "Mobile games are on fire right now; in fact, three out of every four Android users are playing games."

The Android tablet ecosystem has come a long way, with more than 70 million activations of Android tablets so far. With that in mind, Google in July began pushing its Nexus 7 tablets and updated its Android 4.3 mobile operating system as tools for software developers to create and expand gaming apps for legions of new gamers. That's why Google released the Google Play Games app, which lets games players link up with friends online so they can see what they are playing and play together.

In April, 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.

By September 2012, Google Play had served up more than 25 billion downloads to app- and game-hungry Android users, reaching a significant milestone in only six months.