Google thinks it’s on to something with its Google Play game services, and it is trotting out some successful developers to convince other studios to hop on board.
The search company introduced its suite of gaming features that add multiplayer, leaderboards, and more to mobile titles about two months ago. Last week, it introduced the Google Play Games app that centralizes the gaming experience on Android.
It’s up to developers to take these features and make something out of them, and that’s probably why Google recently published a pair of blogs on its Android-developers portal that speak specifically about the early successes of the Play game services.
The company noted that over 1,000 games have already integrated Google Play game services. Thousands of players have logged in with their Google+ accounts to play in multiplayer matches in games like PBA Bowling Challenge, to compete on leaderboards in games like Riptide GP2, and unlock achievements in games like Osmos.
PBA Bowling Challenge developer Concrete Software has found that its players are spending 15 percent more time in its title since it started using Google Play game services.
“The Google Play game services were straightforward and easy to implement,” Concrete Software chief executive Keith Pichelman said in a statement. “We had been researching options for multiplayer services, so when Google Play game services came out, it was an easy decision for us. Not only were they easy to integrate, but the features have worked flawlessly.”
Concrete used Google’s tools to enable the real-time multiplayer, leaderboards, and achievements, but it also uses the service for cloud saves. That means players can start a game on the tablet and continue it later on the phone.
“You can see in the reviews how people immediately raved about the new game experience,” said Pichelman. “Using the game services in PBA Bowling Challenge was a huge success, enough so that we are now going back to our other titles and adding the features to them as well.”
Mobile developer Glu, which produces games like Samurai vs. Zombies 2 and Eternity Warriors 2, is also finding additional success with Google’s new gaming features. Since integrating the Play game services, the developer says it’s seen a 40 percent increase in seven-day user retention for Eternity Warriors 2. Play sessions also jumped 20 percent.
“Multiplayer, leaderboards, achievements — these are all things that we had to build individually for our titles,” Glu vice president of Android development Sourabh Ahuja said. “The availability of these features in Google Play game services helps us make our games stickier, and it’s awesome that it comes directly from Google.”
Glu was able to quickly make Google’s game service quickly work with its own in-house solution for these features. The developer now plans to work exclusively with Google Play game services.
Google also brought out Vector Unit, the development studio responsible for recently launched watercraft racing-game Riptide GP2. That game launched with Google Play game services.
“We wanted to provide a really compelling multiplayer experience for our users, and Google Play game services allowed us to do just that,” Vector Unity chief technology officer Ralf Knoesel said. “By providing an easy way to power this multiplayer experience, we were able to focus on making the gameplay come alive — like the stunts, which are more daring and slicker than ever — with more of them to master — or the realistic detail of the water splashing against the camera lens.”
Google isn’t doing much with Play game services that developers haven’t seen with Apple’s Game Center or Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Those services feature the same multiplayer and achievement features that Google is trumpeting. Of course, Play game services does have one feature that not many developers are talking about: It works on iOS, Windows Phone, and PC.
The search company may be late when it comes to developing a game network, but it clearly sees the value of games on mobile devices. Games, more than any other category of apps, drive revenue on the Apple App Store or Google Play. That Google is putting so much effort into convincing developers to adopt its services by trotting out these early success stories is proof that it gets how important gaming is. This is good for gamers and good for developers.
And if both of those groups begin investing in Google Play game services, then it is good for Google as well.