googleplaysvcIf you've been keeping tabs in the mobile space recently then you might have heard of something called Google Play Game Services, details of which were leaked out onto the net and showed an online gaming service for Android similar to Apples Game Center or Microsoft's Xbox Live service. Today at Google I/O, the search giant's annual developer conference, Google Play Game Services was officially unveiled, and the big surprise was that it's cross-platform, supporting not just Android but the web and even iOS.

Google Play Game Services will feature the ability to host online multiplayer, leaderboards, achievements, and cloud saving. While the service itself will be cross-platform, currently the online multiplayer functionality will remain Android-only. It doesn't sound like it's a technical limitation or anything, just that Google wants to start out slow with this service and all signs point to multiplayer being cross-platform at some point in the future.

The Google Play Game Services is live as of today, and you can grab the SDK from Google's developer portal right now. It's a service that gets baked right into each game, not a separate standalone experience like Apple's Game Center, and is more akin to something like the now defunct OpenFeint. You'll use Google+ to log into the service and your profile will be kept in the cloud so you can just sign on and access everything no matter which device you're using.

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Now, I'm pretty vocal about hating when games use Facebook for all their social/online shenanigans, but here's the thing: go ahead Google and use Google+ for this, it gives me a reason to actually use your service for once. I could totally see having my Google+ account be full of gaming friends, whereas Facebook is full of family and friends which I don't really care to spam with a bunch of iPhone gaming junk. So yeah, Google+ is a-ok with me.

Anyway, it's an interesting turn of events, and a smart one in my opinion. Google is interested in having as many users use their services as possible, not matter what platform they're using to access them. I was initially surprised to hear iOS support for Game Services, but it makes total sense. It will be interesting to see if it ends up being a disruption in the iOS gaming world or just yet another thing to log into when firing up a game.

[Engadget via MacRumors]

  • Josh Dombro

    I was going to say that this is really cool except that it makes Google+ a necessity, but you bring up a good point. Given that I don't have a Google+ account currently, it's not a problem. I can create one and basically use it like a spam email address. The problem that could arise is if I later want to start using the social networking side of it, and it's flooded with gaming stuff. I had a similar problem when I initially used Gmail as a spam email address, took a lot of "unsubscribe" emails to set that straight...

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

    If you have a Google account, then I think you automatically have a Google+ account. I feel like most people (at least in my circle of friends / demographic) already have a Google account, so it's not a big deal. Circles should make it relatively easy to filter out 'gaming friends' from my main feed.

    The cross-platform aspect is really cool. I think this may be a big turning point for gaming on Android. Certainly for developers, this gives a common leaderboard/achievement system that is sorely lacking on Android.

    Ultimately, iOS gamers will decide if they prefer Game Center but speaking as a developer, if I can implement a single solution for Android and iOS, guess which one I'm going to prefer?

    Plus, it also looks a lot better than Apple's ridiculous pseudomorphic 'felt table' aesthetic :P

    • Evolution888

      +1 to you sir.

      • jhamdotme

        You know, there's a button for that. If you don't really have anything to add, it's perfectly okay -- preferred even -- to just give comments an upvote.

    • jhamdotme

      "Pseudomorphic", eh? I do not think it means what you think it means.

      "Skeuomorphic" is what you want here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

        Doh! That was stupid. Fixed, thanks.

  • tranceforma

    Very cool even to an iOS fan boy. Will be interesting to see how it develops

  • Zwilnik

    It's a definite warning to Apple to keep improving Game Centre. I'm not a fan of Google+ myself but this could be the service that stops Google+ from fading into obscurity. Then again, it could be the next Google service that they randomly cut, so I won't be rushing to add it to my iOS games just yet.

  • Adams Immersive

    I don't like being tracked by Facebook OR Google, but that tracking gives Google a reason to have such services, and there's certainly a need for them. Just so long as Google doesn't tie this gaming info into their other services. (Have to see the fine print of the ToS.)

    Since I only game on iOS and Mac, Game Center is fine for me as a player. As a developer, I can see the temptation to offer something more cross-platform.

  • Dams

    Don't want Google+ crap. Hope they won't take over game center...

  • TomCrown

    How long before Google relegates this to the trash bin like many other products they have released, RSS?, and also how long before they start jamming adds into?

  • Hoggy110

    I look at this and see great things...forget about the Google +, you've got support for games on Android, iOS and the web.

  • jhamdotme

    I’m glad to have the competition. With something like this in place, developers will be able to jump ship if Apple doesn’t up their game.

    Apple currently restricts us to 25 leaderboards, for instance, and several developers are already running into this limit. If Apple sees that there’s a viable alternative, and that this arbitrary leaderboard limit is costing them, they’re probably going to have to lift this silly restriction.

  • Wizard_Mike

    This all sounds pretty cool, but I have to be honest and say I hope this is successful just for the hope that apple starts to put some serious effort into game center to keep up.

  • Dracil

    Thank god for this. Game center's iOS exclusivity was really annoying for those of us with both devices. Really hope all cross-platform games jump ship, as I seriously doubt Apple will ever open it up.

  • Keithustus

    Would this service enable us to text chat to friends? How on earth did Apple not put that into GC?

    • 1Fcm

      Because they already have instant messaging? And chatting with friends in-game needs to implemented by devs within their app.

  • http://twitter.com/doho123 scott slomiany

    For google+ haters, Google+ isn't really going away anytime soon. Granted, it probably hasn't developed into a facebook clone like google wanted, but it's really turned into a pretty active geek network for me, much like the old usenet groups. So Facebook is for family and cat pictures, and google+ is for hobby networking. It's just a matter of searching out the hobbies/activities that interest you.

    Turning it into something as a cross-platform game center makes a lot of sense from that standpoint.

    • MidianGTX

      So now we get to use two sites instead of one? Except Google+ isn't as good as LinkedIn for networking, so serious professionals need three. Maybe in the future we can have a hundred different services to sign up for, yay!

  • Mountain872

    So.....this is like OpenFeint, I get it. There's no separate app, but it's just a service built into ever app individually. In my opinion, it's nothing special but just a way to get achievements across different games and look at leader boards. Apple has had Gamecenter for nearly 2.5 years (since iOS4) and since launch has done mostly if not everything this is so it looks to me like Google is just playing catch-up.

  • Gamer_Kev

    Can't say I'm too tickled with the idea. My past experiences with Google have not been very positive. Even with that aside, personally I would prefer that there was only one online game scoring system on iOS. I decided a while back that I would only use one of these systems and decided on Game Center because it's not likely to be suddenly shut down.

  • guyfromtrinidad

    having tested this out with a couple of games, just to point out one key fact with Google plus services and a positive I think is that you can just use it for your cloud saves, you do not have to share or post information to anyone. Of course Google still gets your info but hey I'm one of the few who is cool with that.