Google Gets Social With Google Play Games
MAY 13, 2013 • Up until now connecting Android gamers to each other via leader boards, achievements, invites, lobbies, cloud saving and multiplayer match-ups has been a niche filled by third-party companies such as Gree, OpenFeint and OpenKit. Now it is reported that Google itself is stepping up with its own solution called Google Play Games. After discovering support for game services buried within the Google Glass companion app, the Android Police web site acquired a copy of the upcoming Google Play Services v3.1.36 update and confirmed that Google Play Games is coming to Android phones. Much of the social connectivity features will be handled through the Google+ social network. Google is following the path that Apple Inc. took in creating its Game Center for iOS devices to make it easier for developers to add unified social features for all of their mobile games, while exerting more control of how those features are managed and leveraged for targeted marketing.
Impact: As discussed in the DFC Intelligence report The Global Market for Games and Entertainment Applications on Smartphones and Tablets, Android devices are forecasted to far outsell Apple devices. However, the iOS is expected to be a much larger market for games and many other types of entertainment applications. In large part this is because of the centralized nature of the iOS which has a notable social feature in the AppleGameCenter social network. Offering social game features makes perfect sense for consumers and Google needs to become more competitive in that respect. For Google, having a single social platform to connect with gaming friends makes initiating those connections to a wider group much easier. Google gets a new tool to better keep track of what Android gamers are playing, when, for how long, and with whom. That should help down the road to better monetize games played on Android devices. For our part, we are pleased to see Google is serious about better managing the environment around which games are played on Android. Far too many consumers are reluctant to pay for their Android games. Part of that comes from a portion of those who own Android phones who are philosophically opposed to paying for content. Yet there are others who view many of the offerings on Google Play to be suspect from a security standpoint, and are reluctant to offer up their credit cards. The more oversight Google exerts over how games are discovered and played on the platform the more reassuring that will be to many mainstream consumers new to Android.