25 June 2014

Games at Google I/O '14: Everyone's Playing Games

By Greg Hartrell, Product Manager, Google Play games

With Google I/O ‘14 here, we see Android and Google Play as a huge opportunity for game developers: 3 in 4 Android users are playing games, and with over one billion active Android users around the world, games are reaching and delighting almost everyone.

At Google, we see a great future where mobile and cloud services bring games to all the screens in your life and connect you with others. Today we announced a number of games related launches and upcoming technologies across Google Play Games, the Android platform and its new form factors.

Google Play Games

At last year’s Google I/O, we announced Google Play Games -- Google’s online game platform, with services and user experiences designed to bring players together and take Android and mobile games to the next level.

Google Play Games has grown at tremendous speed, activating 100 million users in the past 6 months. It’s the fastest growing mobile game network, and with such an incredible response, we announced more awesome enhancements to Google Play Games today.

Game Profile

The Play Games app now gives players a Game Profile, where they earn points and vanity titles from unlocking achievements. Players can also compare their profile with friends. Developers can benefit from this meta-game by continuing to design great achievements that reward players for exploring all the content and depth of their game.

Quests and Saved Games

Two new game services will launch with the next update for Google Play Services on Android, and through the Play Games iOS SDK:

  • Quests is a service that enables developers to create online, time-based goals in their games without having to launch an update each time. Now developers can easily run weekend or daily challenges for their player community, and reward them in unique ways.
  • Saved Games is a service that stores a player’s game progress across many screens, along with a cover image, description and total time played. Players never have to play level 1 again by having their progress stored with Google, and cover images and descriptions are used in Play Games experiences to indicate where they left off and attract them to launch their favorite game again.

We have many great partners who have started integrating Quests and Saved Games, here are just a few current or upcoming games.

More tools for game developers

Other developer tools are now available for Play Games, including:

  • Play Games Statistics — Play Games adopters get easy effort game analytics through the Google Play Developer console today, including visualization of Player & Engagement statistics. What’s new is aggregated player demographic information for signed-in users, so you can understand the distribution of your player’s ages, genders and countries.
  • Play Games C++ SDK is updated with more cross-platform support for the new services and experiences we announced. Cocos2D-x, a popular game engine, is an early adopter of the Play Games C++ SDK bringing the power of Play Games to their developers.

Game enhancements for the Android Platform

With the announcement of the developer preview of the Android L-release, there are some new platform capabilities that will make Android an even more compelling platform for game development.

  • Support for OpenGL ES 3.1 in the L Developer Preview — Introducing powerful features like compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather, enables more interesting physics or pixel effects on mobile devices. Additional API and shading language improvements improve usability and reduce overhead.
  • Android Extension Pack (AEP) in the L Developer Preview — a new set of extensions to OpenGL ES that bring desktop class graphics to Android. Games will be able to take advantage of tessellation and geometry shaders, and use ASTC texture compression.

    We're pleased to be working with different GPU vendors to adopt AEP including Nvidia, ARM, Qualcomm, and Imagination Technologies.

  • Google Gamepad standards — We recently published a standard for gamepad input for OEMs and partners who create and enable these awesome input devices on Android. The standard makes this input mechanism compatible across Google platforms on Android, Chrome and Chromebooks. You can learn more here: Supporting Game Controllers.

Play Games on Android TV

And Google's game network is a part of the Android TV announcement — so think of Android on a TV, with a rich interface on a large screen, and fun games in your living room! Players will be able to earn achievements, climb leaderboards and play online with friends from an Android TV. This is only available through the developer preview, so game developers seeking a hardware development kit (the ADT-1) can make a request at http://developer.android.com/tv.

Updates rolling out soon

That’s a lot of games announcements! Our Play Games changes will roll out over the next few weeks with the update of Google Play Services and the Play Games App, and Android L-release changes are part of the announced developer preview. This gets us a big step closer to a world where Android and our cloud services enable games to reach all the screens in your life and connect you with others.

Greg Hartrell is the lead product manager for Google Play Games: Google's game platform that helps developers reach and unite millions of players. Before joining Google, he was VP of Product Development at Capcom/Beeline, and prior to that, led product development for 8 years at Microsoft for Xbox Live/360 and other consumer and enterprise product lines. In his spare time, he enjoys flying birds through plumbing structures, boss battles and pulling rare objects out of mystery boxes.

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