Analysis: Play Games Enhancements Announced at GDC 2016

Analysis: Play Games Enhancements Announced at GDC 2016

The Game Developers Conference is off to a roaring start today in San Francisco with today being Google’s annual Developer Day. Since many are unable to attend in person Google has announced several changes both in person and through their developers’ blog, specifically highlighting enhancements and developments coming to Google Play Games. Here’s a look into some of what was announced and what this may mean for both developers and players:

  • IndieCornerUpcoming support for Gamer friends that will allow interaction between friends and not just ones with a Google+ account. Given the shift away from Google+ in recent months this one seems to continue that trend while welcoming more into the fold.
  • An Indie Corner collection on Google Play, where indie developers can nominate a game for consideration, allowing Google to spotlight those it chooses to. As someone who both follows and supports indie developers both on all platforms, I am thrilled to see this. Indie studios get us breakout hits like 2015’s Rocket League and 2016’s That Dragon, Cancer – some that also do a lot of good with what they make on those games.
  • Upcoming preview of managing game parameters without having to change your app or resubmit it. To be honest I took this for granted and assumed this was already possible – and now finding out it wasn’t am thoroughly pleased that developers can tweak these things with a lot less hassle than before. The example image from Google shows very clearly how prices could easily be adjusted with these this new tool. Want to run a promotion on certain items? Just edit the values. This is how it should be – anything to make it easier to maintain a game once it’s already in there is great news in my book.
  • Video Recording API – NVIDIA SHIELD devices already had built-in Twitch Support but it’s nice to see that Google is also adding this in. Whether players want to share a recording, upload to YouTube or live stream a play, Google is finally seeing that it’s not just consoles or desktop players that want this functionality. Of course, this also means users need to have the bandwidth to support it – and so it will be interesting to see how this works once it’s finally out in the wild.
  • Predictive Analytics are being added into the Player Stats API, which should help better tailor things for games in order to be more effective in monetization and play.
  • image02Trial Run Ads will start being introduced in the next few weeks. Google will offer the game to players on WiFi to try it for 10 minutes and then let them choose to install the full game. This is equivalent to streaming the game with no storage used during that 10 minute window, so this could be interesting. It will be curious to see how this works and find out more about it.
  • Portrait Video Ads to take better advantage of the screen and not assume that it’s always a landscape format that people watch videos in. Again, this seems long overdue and will be waiting to see who and how it is used.
  • Active User Targeting for engaging users more often, specifically who have spent more than 30 minutes playing games or played a Play Games integrated game in the past 30 days.
  • AdMob Mediation allowing you to display video ads from several networks and platforms and further monetize a developer’s app. As much as players don’t want to always face this, it is a necessary evil – and letting Google have some say in this should help, in theory, balance that need with a desire to keep players safe and engaged.

It’s really nice to see Google doing more in this department to help make it easier for game developers to maintain and monetize their games, especially as many more games go the route of monetizing through optional purchases and advertisement. At the same time they have to moderate those ads and the “pay to win” sentiment that is often felt, something that these tools may help developers further optimize their games to provide an overall better experience for the players.

Source: Android Developers Blog

As a game developer or player, how do you feel about these changes? Is this something that you’ll be taking advantage of or shying away from? Are you a game developer who wants their game featured on XDA?

We’d love to feature more games on the Portal so please contact me on the forums, Twitter or Google+! And stay tuned for more GDC 2016 coverage as the week continues!

About author

Daniel Moran
Daniel Moran

Former PC Hardware Editor for XDA.