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[Updated with additional news: 10:44 am Jan. 25]

Google has changed the way the Android operating system handles permissions for game players so that it becomes a lot easier to sign players up for transactions.

The company (which is changing its formal name to Alphabet) said today it is changing permissions for Google Play games by altering the model for games applications programming interfaces. The company is addressing “friction,” a common complaint from developers about how it takes too many steps to sign players up and handle transactions.

Google also announced on Monday new features for its player analytics. With the improvements, developers will be able to use predictive analytics to engage players before they quit a game.


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Apple has an advantage on this front because it has signed customers up for more than a decade to iTunes accounts. Those users have their own sign-ins and credit cards on file, so they can immediately start making in-app purchases in games. Google’s own direct history with users is shorter, and that’s why it has more friction.

Under the new model, players will be prompted to sign in once per account, rather than once per game. Players no longer need their account upgraded to Google+ to use Play Games services. Once players have signed in for the first time, they will no longer need to sign in for any future games. They will be automatically signed in. (If they wish, players can turn off auto-sign-in in the Play Games apps settings.)

“Once a user signs in for first time, new games will generally be able to sign in without any user interaction,” Wolff Dobson, developer advocate, said in a blog post. “There is no consent screen required for signing in on any particular game. Sign-in will be automatic to each new game. In order to respect user’s privacy and avoid revealing their real name, we also have to change the way player IDs work.”

Existing players will continue to get their Google+ ID when they sign in. New players will get a new player ID, which is not the same as the previous IDs used. Most games will see no interruption or change in service. But in a handful of cases, Dobson said, some change is required. The post describes the technical solutions.

Dobson said, “Let’s be very clear: If you do nothing, unless you are depending explicitly on Google+ features, you will see no change in functionality, and a smoother sign-in experience.”

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