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Android and iOS owners can soon settle who is better at games.
Google introduced a new version of its Google Play Games Services tool kit at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today. This update will enable studios to make multiplayer modes that can have iOS gamers playing against people on Android. This means that game companies can quickly connect their iOS and Android fans, which may increase retention since players could potentially have a bigger pool of friends playing together. And this might encourage more game development on Android which, with mobile gaming reaching $16 billion in 2013, is a major driver of revenue on smartphones and tablets.
“We want the whole world to play together,” Google developer advocate Todd Kerpelman said during last year’s GDC when they first introduced Google Play Games Services. “I know that’s a little bit touchy-feely — kids holding hands around the world — but at the core level, it’s really true. All of us on the team are gamers. By that I don’t mean that we just play games — we haven’t had a lot of time lately — it’s more that we understand that games are powerful.”
Google wants to get everyone on a single backend platform that will enable them to play together despite who makes the device they use. The Play Games Services can accomplish that. It lives totally in the cloud as an application programming interface (API), which games on any platform can access. To take advantage of the leaderboard and multiplayer features, players just need to log in with their Google+ account.
This is an update to the Play Games Services that Google introduced last year. It originally enabled multiplayer, achievements, and more on both platforms. Up until this point, everything except for multiplayer worked across iOS and Android. Virtually all iOS games currently use Gamecenter, which is Apple’s own game-services solution. Now that Google supports cross-platform multiplayer (something Apple is very unlikely to implement), some iOS developers might consider going with Google’s solution.
We’ve reached out to Google to ask if it has any developers that are currently implementing the cross-platform multiplayer into an iOS and Android game. We’ll update this story with any new information.
For developers, Google is updating the Play Games Services plugin for the popular game-making software-development kit Unity to support the cross-platform multiplayer. It is also launching an C++ version of the Play Games SDK. Google will also add several new categories on Google Play to aid discovery, and it is enabling new in-app ads to target users who might want to purchase virtual items.
For gamers, the Play Games app — which is a hub to maintain your friends list and more — will now feature gifting. Players can send in-game items to one another using this feature.