Google Updates Android's Play Games and Cross-Platform SDKs

Eric Zeman
Jul. 11 2014, 12:40PM EDT

Google this week released new SDKs for game developers, who can now target not only Android smartphones and tablets but the iPhone as well. The company is also pushing Play Games 2.0, the core gaming tent pole within Android, to all Android devices in the market.

Google is providing three core changes to how developers write games. It has updated the Play Games cross-platform C++ SDK, has updated the Play Games SDK for iOS, and is offering new game service alerts in the developer console. Here's a breakdown of the changes in each.

To start, the C++ SDK now supports turn-based multiplayer action, quests and events, and saved games. The platform historically supports achievements, authorization and leaderboards. According to Google, Cocos2d-x has already adopted the new C++ SDK and is offering it to developers. Cocos2d-x even created a prototype game called "Wagon War" to show off how its platform works with the new C++ SDK. "Wagon War" provides reference code samples so writers can speed up development of their own games. "Wagon War" is available via GitHub.

Google's SDK for iOS game development also now supports quests, events and saved games. This means iOS developers can integrate the latest services and experiences with Objective-C-based tool-chains. According to Google, the SDK provides the UI for Game Profiles and access to Player XP data. Developers can use Google's SDKs to write games that will run on both Android and iOS devices, and allow for multiplayer action between the two platforms. That's pretty slick.

Last up in this trio of tools is new games services alerts in the Developer Console. The alerts will notify developers about issues that might hurt their users' gaming experience. For example, the alerts can tell developers when players can't join their multiplayer apps.

While these three tools are meant for developers, the key for them all to work is Play Games 2.0. Google announced this week that it has begun pushing Play Games 2.0 to all Android devices. It will take several weeks to complete the rollout. Once Play Games 2.0 is fully distributed, new games will be able to put all these new SDK-based features in place.

The Play Games app sits on Android devices and acts as a hub for all the games on the device. It lets users track achievements and scores and play with their friends, and it presents it all in a unified experience. It's vital for gamers.

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for Programmable Web and other online properties.

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