Google has announced upcoming changes to its Play Game Services APITrack this API. The real-time and turn-based APIs that currently allow developers to add real-time functionality and multiplayer options within the Play Game Services API will be deprecated on March 31, 2020. Play Game Services is the Google API that enables developers to add features like achievements, leaderboards, events, quests, to web and mobile games. These other features will not be affected by the upcoming changes.
While Google did not directly announce why it is ending support for real-time and turn-based APIs, it did recommend other options for developers currently using these features. Both alternatives are Google products. The first is the Firebase Realtime Database. The second is the Google Cloud Open Match (an open-source option).
Developers currently utilizing the features will be unable to turn the functionality off. For those impacted by this, it would be best to start looking for an alternative now, because the feature will go away at the end of March. Games not currently using the features are no longer able to add the APIs for integration.
Firebase Realtime Database stores and syncs data in a NoSQL cloud database. Data stored is synced across all clients in realtime and remains available when an app goes offline. This makes it a good alternative candidate, and a free tier is available. Google Cloud Open Match has a specific focus on matching players based on latency, wait time and a skill rating. The open-source option runs on Kubernetes for flexibility and scalability.