This week, at the annual Game Developer’s Conference (GDC), Google announced a handful of new features and APIs that should allow game developers to take better advantage of Google Play Games. These announcements should allow game developers to expand their games to new audiences and improve engagement.
Previously, using Google Play Games meant that the user would need to log in to Google+ to link their game activity with their identity. The push to Google+ has not been as successful as Google originally planned. They’ve been pulling back the Google+ requirement in a lot of products, such as Google Photos and YouTube. Now Google Play Games no longer requires a real name. Automatic sign-in and gamer ids are new features that developers can take advantage of now.
Indie games often have unique graphical styles or gameplay mechanics. While they can be very fun, their independent nature means that they may not be as easy to find. Smaller budgets mean there’s less money to advertise the game. Google has published a new collection on Google Play called the “Indie Corner“. It contains about two dozen indie games and Google is willing to add more.
While most of these games do not seem to currently support Android TV, there are a few that do, such as Alto’s Adventure.
Video Recording API
Game streaming is a growing industry. Being able to record yourself playing games can grow huge audiences, and it shouldn’t just be restricted to PC or console gaming. While YouTube gaming has had some support for streaming your screen in general, there is a new API that will allow developers to integrate both realtime streaming as well as recording the game to share later.
If you want users to download your game, you need a pretty good ad. While Google has allowed you to publish images and videos, that still doesn’t give users the most accurate experience. What if you could reach out and know exactly what the game is like?
A new type of ad is “Search Trial Run Ads”. Users will be able to stream the game from a server and play it like they would play a local game. They get ten minutes to play maximum. Then users will be able to install the game to their device. It should be noted that these ads will only be available to users on Wi-Fi.
If developers don’t want a full game streaming ad, they can also now use portrait video ads. While some may detest portrait video, it’s hard to deny their growing usage. Plus Google’s ad targeting will become more precise, allowing users who have played more than thirty minutes of games or played a Google Play Game within the last thirty days to see your ad. This should make developers’ ads more effective.
Speaking of ads, developers who place ads in their game can now better integrate ads with in-game credits. Some games already have this implemented, where users can watch an ad for revenue. Although there’s perhaps a discussion to be had on the ethics of watching ads for money, the technical element of it has been solved through AdMob Mediation.
As more developers target mobile devices for new games, and porting console quality games to Android devices, Google is continuing to help developers. Focusing on indie developers may be a wise investment as there are more opportunities to generate revenue, and these new ad formats should definitely help indie game studios reach more users.