Several new major products have just been announced at Google I/O 2014, but behind the scenes, Google is also revealing some changes to its supporting services. One that would excite both gamers and developers alike are the new features for Google’s online gaming platform, preparing Google Play Games for the arrival of Android L and Android TV.
Compared to some other online gaming networks, Google Play Games is relatively new, having been announced only last year. So it isn’t a bit surprising that it is only now that Play Games is implementing the idea of game profiles. This type of “meta-gaming”, as Google calls it, allows players to hoard badges and titles by unlocking in-game achievements, pretty much like how Steam does it for PC games. And to ensure that those achievements are kept for posterity’s sake, Google is adding a new Saved Games service, that will track and record a game’s progress through different screens.
Most of the new features in the upcoming Play Games update are naturally meant for game developers and publishers, like improved game statistics and C++ SDK. Some other highlights of this release is support for the new OpenGL ES 3.1 standard as well as the new Android Extension Pack or AEP. In a nutshell, this will allow developers to bring desktop-quality of graphics to mobile devices, provided the hardware can take the punishment of course. Both of these will be arriving via the Android L Developer Preview.
Last but definitely not the least, Google has formally acknowledge the existence and need for game controllers. They have published a Gamepad standard that OEMs can use when making such controllers, which will definitely help developers support a common game controller standard in their masterpiece. The timing of this new feature isn’t a coincidence. This gamepad standard undoubtedly ties in with Google’s revelation of Android TV, which can also function as a gaming device for a big screen.
Some of these new features will roll out only later together with the Android L preview, but some, like Saved Games and Quests are already being used in updated versions of games on Google Play Store right now, including Asphalt 8: Airborne, Heroes of Camelot, and Robocop.