New Google Play, Firebase, and Android Studio tools announced for game developers at Google for Games
Although the Game Developers Conference (GDC) was canceled to limit the spread of COVID-19, Google is hosting its “Google for Games” Developer Summit entirely online. Today, the company announced many new tools in Google Play, Firebase, Android Studio, and more for mobile game developers. Here’s what’s new.
What’s new in Google Play
- Google Play Asset Delivery: With Asset Delivery in Google Play, game assets can be dynamically delivered to users so they can start playing much more quickly. This feature builds upon Google’s App Bundle infrastructure. Learn more here.
- Android vitals native crash symbolization: You can now upload native debug symbols to the Google Play Console to debug native crashes, with the added benefit of getting data from Android Vitals. This feature is now in open beta.
- Android vitals performance insights with Android Performance Tuner: New performance insights in Android Vitals in the Play Console make it easier to optimize your game’s frame rate and fidelity across many different devices. This feature can be unlocked by joining the developer preview and integrating the new Android Performance Tuner library in the Android Game SDK.
- Play Billing Library 2 for Unity developers: If you use the Android SDK in Unity, you can now access all of Google Play Billing Library v2’s features. This includes the ability to allow users to pay with cash and show in-app purchases outside the game. Learn more here.
- Day 1 auto-installation for pre-registered games: Google will soon enable day 1 auto-installation of pre-registered games.
New Android Tools for Game Development
- Android Studio Profilers: The System Trace profiler has been overhauled to “allow you to inspect and visualize in fine detail how your code is being executed.” Google has also added native memory profiling capabilities to help you find memory leaks. This feature is available in Android Studio 4.1, now in Canary. Learn more during the live stream session.
- Android Game Development Extension for Visual Studio: Google is introducing a new tool that integrates with your Visual Studio workflow. This tool will make it easier to generate APK files from your project, deploy your game to an Android device or an emulator, or debug your Android game from within Visual Studio. This feature is now in developer preview. To learn more, watch the live stream session.
- Android GPU Inspector: The new Android GPU Inspector tool will enable you to see your game’s render stages and GPU counters. Google hopes this will allow graphics engineers to optimize their games’ frame rates and power use. Google and Qualcomm worked together on the Android GPU Inspector, which supports the GPUs found in most Android devices, including the Adreno GPUs of Snapdragon SoCs. As a result of this partnership, game developers will be able to directly give feedback to Qualcomm so they can improve the Adreno GPU software drivers. Qualcomm will make a beta driver (the Adreno Graphics Development Driver) available to select developers so they can quickly test their optimizations and suggest enhancements. Then, the final driver will be made available on select devices through the Google Play Store. This feature is in developer preview but is already being tested by several game studios on the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, and Samsung Galaxy S10. Watch the live stream to learn more.
- Game Package Registry for Unity: Google is introducing a package registry that puts Google APIs such as Google Play Billing, Android App Bundles, Google Play Asset Delivery, Google Play Instant, and Firebase for Games all in one place. The documentation is available here but will be explained in detail during Google for Games.
- Crytek announces Android support: Crytek’s CRYENGINE is adding a full Android pipeline later this summer. You can learn more from Crytek’s website.
Everything new in Firebase announced at Google for Games
- Cloud Firestore for C++ and Unity: A version of Google’s Cloud Firestore SDK, a cloud-based NoSQL database with features like multi-region reliability, atomic transactions, and realtime listeners, is now available for C++ and Unity developers. Since this is an open alpha release, Google warns that the Cloud Firestore SDK for Unity is missing some advanced querying features and that the API has a good chance to change in the next few months. Google says that Firebase Realtime Database won’t be going away as Cloud Firestore is merely another alternative that’s better suited for certain situations.
- Firebase Unity SDKs are now compatible with Unity Package Manager: In supported versions of the Unity SDK, Firebase will be kept up-to-date and the plugin will no longer have to be mixed in with your game’s assets. This process is automated through an open-source tool called External Dependency Manager for Unity (EDM4U).
- New analytics in Google Analytics: Google has added new reports in Google Analytics that could be useful for game developers. Some of the new dashboards focus on user acquisition, user retention, user engagement, and user monetization, while some of the new reports include First-time Buyers, Revenue Heartbeat, User Engagement, and trending Daily Active Users/Monthly Active Users (DAU/MAU). To get started with these new reports, you must link your Firebase project to a Google Analytics account and then open the Google Analytics console. For more details, visit the Analytics help center.
- New landing page: To coincide with Google for Games, Google has updated the Firebase for Games product page with a fresh design.