Developers that can’t decide between building games for Android or iOS may just opt for both now that Google has added cross-platform gaming support for the two platforms. Google announced the news at the Game Developers Conference on Monday, saying that support for both real-time and turn-based gaming is now available. Although Google didn’t provide details how the cross-platform games would work for end-users, it has used Google+ in the past to associate gaming friends.
Obviously, developers will have to code different apps for both platforms. However, Google is tying Android and iOS together through Google Play Services; the way it brought many new features to most Android phones without releasing a completely new version of Android last May. Helping to get gamers together, Google also announced multiplayer app invites in its Google Play Games app. And you can can send virtual gifts to your gamer friends as well with the Play Services update.
A few other updates should help game development across platforms, with a graphical update and new SDK, according to Google:
To further help with cross platform game development, we’re updating our Play Games Unity Plug-in to support cross-platform multiplayer services, and introducing an early Play Games C++ SDK to support achievements and leaderboards.
In addition, we’re launching enhanced Play Games statistics on the Google Play Developer Console, providing easy game analytics for Play Games adopters. Developers will gain a daily dashboard that visualizes player and engagement statistics for signed in users, including daily active users, retention analysis and achievement, and leaderboard performance.
The strategy here is welcome, both for developers and for end users. Anything that can help a programmer build apps for a wider audience has the potential to bring more app revenues of course.
And personally, I’d rather not be tied into a single gaming platform — iOS Game Center or Google Play Games — for various reasons, the biggest being I don’t want to worry about which devices my friends have. I’d rather just be able to play games with them, compete against them and have fun; not spend time figuring out who can play what game on which platform. That’s a sure way to crash the fun of what should be a play anywhere, anytime with anyone experience.