Online gaming with home consoles is thriving these days, with millions of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network subscribers taking part in sessions ranging from frantic action gaming to high-speed races.
Mobile gaming has yet to reach that plateau, despite the growing range and skyrocketing use of phones and tablets. The team at Google is looking to change all that.
Yesterday (May 15), the company introduced Google Play Game Services, which are supported across-the-board for Android and iOS devices, as well as the Internet.
These services enable gamers to take advantage of a number of online features, including unlockable achievements, leaderboards that keep track of friends' records via Google Plus, cloud storage that saves game progress and online multiplayer for certain Android devices.
Game Services will also mark the first time that players can interact with one another through cross-play, no matter what format they're playing on.
Yes, that means iOS users interacting with those that own an Android, but through Google rather than their native online servers.
These Google Play services will be built into games by app developers behind the scenes.
A number of developers are already adding updates to make their games compatible with Google Play, including such titles as "World of Goo," "Super Stickman Golf 2," "Beach Buggy Blitz" and "Kingdom Rush." (More developers will be providing updates in the future, though no specific dates were given.)
Google obviously has the strength and technology to make these Game Services work to the benefit of users.
With Google Plus growing into a steady social platform, it could really play a part in how people can interact with one another, either through direct challenges or topping each other on the scoreboard.
Now it's just a matter of seeing how two features pan out. The first thing to watch is how the service holds up from a long-term technical standpoint, and how well online multiplayer games perform.
During Google's presentation yesterday, an attempt to run a demonstration with the forthcoming jet-ski racing game "Riptide 2" didn't fare as well as expected. (Google has assured that it will certainly run better in future sessions.)
The second thing to watch is overall game support. A number of games already have updates that use Game Services, but it's not clear whether all developers will embrace them.
After all, some apps, like "Pinball Arcade" and "Angry Birds Friends," seem to run just fine without the implemented Google services.
It's quite an ambitious task that Google is setting out to do. Now it's just a matter of seeing how well it's executed.
One thing's for sure — your office game competition will certainly pick up quite a bit.
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