Google+ Integration will finally be Removed from Google Play Games in 2017
Outside of a few niche topics (and a few fairly large Android discussion circles), Google+ has failed to catch on as a social media platform.
That’s why Google has been (rather annoyingly) pushing Google+ wherever and whenever they can. For those of you who lament being forced to sign up for a social media platform, fortunately Google has been backtracking on forcing Google+ integration on all their services. Last year, the company announced that they would no longer require YouTube comments to be made via Google+. At the beginning of this year, Google announced that any new Play Games accounts would have player IDs that are not tied to Google+. Yesterday, however, the company made public that all Google+ integrations would cease to function starting in February 2017.
Play Games without Google+
Since Google Play Games was announced in mid-2013, the service has allowed for users to view statistics about players that you are connected to via Google+ circles. Features such as social leaderboards, gifts, and real-time multiplayer relied on returning a list of friends in your Google+ profile to make Android gaming more social. However, this of course required users to actually set up their Google+ account, which can be difficult to get behind if none of your friends are using the platform.
Starting February 2017, all games that request Google+ social data will return empty lists. Google will no longer use Google+ accounts as a back-end for Play Games social integration. Instead, the company is moving to adopt the Google Sign-In API for authentication. This change unifies their approach across their different platforms, and will no longer require Android gamers to build a profile on Google+. Gamers can continue using their existing Google account which is far more widely used on Android devices.
Source: Android Developers Blog