Today at I/O, Google has launched its rumored Google Play Game Services, which will finally give the Android platform a Game Center-esque experience for those looking to enjoy multiplayer competition on some of their favorite titles. Then again, if the demonstration of the multiplayer feature in action today (note: it didn’t connect) is anything to go by, Android users will be hoping the hit-and-miss demonstration of the service is not representative of the eventual experiences.
It has long since been speculated that Google would bring Game Center-like functionality to Android, with reports dating back well over a year ago. But only in the run-up to this year’s I/O did the rumor mill really gain traction, and although it does appear to be an unpolished gem on the count of the botched demo, at least avid gamers will soon have an interface through which they can nurture their skills.
Today, Google officially announced the new Play Game Services API, and not only will it cover titles across the Android platform, but also those on other platforms. As you’d expect, there’s the usual dose of leaderboards and achievements, and with the latter including an integrated ‘cloud saves’ feature spanning Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and desktop / web browsers, it’s an exciting implementation indeed. And yes, it uses Google+ to find your friends, so you better start using the social network more often if you want to take full advantage of this service.
The cross-platform cloud saves support means, for example, that one could potentially enjoy a game of Angry Birds on an Android tablet, continue on an iPhone, and finish the day’s play from within a desktop browser. Patently, there is some fine tuning to be done, but as a recent Android adopter of a predominantly iOS background, I am pleased to see the wheels in motion.
As with Game Center, which isn’t automatically supported by each and every game, the onus will be on the individual developers to bring support for the new Google Play Game services, but with this kind of feature having been quite an eagerly anticipated addition to the Android fore, I can foresee many devs jumping aboard the new API.
Eufloria HD is one of the first games to get Google Play Game support, with an update to the title earlier on today having been spotted by several eagle-eyed individuals. If you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, I suggest you check it out, and we will of course keep you updated on any other noteworthy titles adding this new compatibility.
The new Google Play Game Services will start rolling out to devices running Android 2.2 Froyo all the way up to Jelly Bean.