Google revealed a new set of developer APIs today that help make up Google Play games services. These APIs allow any interested developer integrate cloud saves, achievements, leaderboards and online multiplayer (Android only) in their Android, iOS and web-based games. When this information was first leaked, it was an exciting moment. It seemed like Google was finally going to take games seriously and accomplish a feat that Apple left on the table. But now that we have the chance to experience these features, I think Google dropped the ball.
If you search around the web, you’ll find websites writing articles about the games that have been updated to support Google Play games services. That right there is a problem. Google should have made sure there was an easy way for everyone to find these newly updated games. There should have been a dedicated section in Google Play for this very purpose. I feel that the majority of people won’t even know Google Play games services exists. And why should they? It’s a series of APIs that they’ll never see. Google should have released a separate app called Google Games (or something similar) that would face the player and help build awareness.
A dedicated app would have also made leaderboards and achievements much more attractive. Right now, the only way you can see your achievements is by opening a game that supports it and digging through its menus. Super Stickman Golf 2 for example has a tiny green controller icon that takes you to the achievements page. It’s easy to miss. There’s no sense of unity throughout the games that support Google Play games services.
Game Center may be crap, but at least you can track all your achievements in one place. Google could have done something similar and allowed players to brag about their achievements through Twitter, Google+, Facebook and SMS using Android’s native sharing features. This creates awareness and gives developers more reason to take the time to utilize Google Play games services.
Google, let us view our achievements, leaderboards and friends in a single app. Then, let us view that same information on the web. Cross-platform cloud saves and online multiplayer baked into every Android device is huge. Every gamer needs to know these things exist. Don’t make the same mistake Apple did letting this opportunity go to waste.