Gaming dominates the app ecosystem on Android, which is why Google wants to give its game developers a leg up on the competition.
As part of the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco, Google announced a bevy of new tools and features for Android game developers to help them attract users and make money.
The Google Play app store will be introducing 18 new gaming categories this month to give users and developers a more granular set of options when choosing a game. New categories will expand on the old Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino options in Google Play to include singular topics like role playing, strategy, simulation, family, word, trivia, sports, racing and more.
Google’s game-specific Play Games app will now support multiplayer invites to help existing players let their friends discover new games. Google will also introduce gaming gifts where players can send in-game currencies to each other such as virtual currencies.
Reaching Into iOS
Google’s purview of mobile gaming does not stop at Android, however. Google wants to be present on all platforms, including the Web, but also on Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads.
Google is extending multiplayer support to iOS to bring real-time and turn-based gaming to players using an app on either operating system. Google is also updating its plug-in for Unity, an open source social platform for gamers, to support cross platform services.
Google’s approach to mobile games is very much like its approach to everything that touches the Internet: It wants to be the central platform for discovery, interaction, development and monetization. Google doesn’t want to limit its mobile gaming reach to just Android when it thinks there is an opportunity to pull in iOS gamers and developers as well.
Google doesn’t like to think of Android as a walled-garden where developers and users are stuck in the Google Play store. By expanding multiplayer support to iOS and enhancing its Unity plug-in, Google is attempting to spread its services beyond just what can be experienced on Android.
Google is also launching a beefed up version of its analytics for game developers in the Google Play Developer Console. A new dashboard will be available to developers to track player retention, engagement and leaderboard performance for signed-in users.
Of course, where there are analytics, there are advertisements. Google will introduce its Analytics platform directly into its AdMob interface for mobile game developers. Google will also add the ability to make in-app purchases within advertisements in games so that when a player sees an ad that entices them to make a purchase, the user doesn’t have to leave the app at all.
By enabling in-app ad purchases, Google cuts down on the user interaction flow between advertisement and action, essentially eliminating a middleman in the process.
Lead image by John Larsson on flickr