Play Games screen shot

With a whole heap of excitement and bated breath, we reported the leak of Google Play game services earlier this week and were incredibly pleased last night to see everything we’d hoped for at Google I/O.

The official announcement came in a press release shortly before the Google I/O keynote speech. Confirmed features include, as promised, an achievements system, leader boards and rankings which promise seamless integration with Google Plus, a social side to the games which will also link with your Google Plus account and stored saved games and settings in the cloud. Finally Google Plus appears to have a genuine reason for existence – using your G + circles you’ll now be able to enjoy up to four player multiplayer in a game session, with additional spaces opening up in the near future.

Not only will the service be available to Android developers, but also to those using iOS and the web, meaning a whole feast of gaming will shortly be ours to get our teeth around. Titles which are already updated and ready to go include World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Mobile game screen
How Play games is going to look on your mobile device.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the seemingly limitless cross platform compatibility, or at least that’s what Google say on the official game developers page – “Start a game on your Nexus phone, continue playing on an iOS device, earn an achievement, and watch it show up on your web browser.” We’ve got to admit, that strikes us as being fairly nifty.

While onstage at Google I/O 2013, Google’s new Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai also announced that 900 million Android devices have been activated to-date, with 48 billion app downloads so far. See below for Google’s official press release in full.

“Introducing Google Play game services (May 15th, 2013)

We love to talk about games at Google. Especially the old ones, like Pac-man, Pitfall and Frogger. Since those classics, games have changed a lot. They’ve moved from that clunky box in your living room to the screen that you carry with you in your pocket wherever you go. They’re mobile, they’re social, and they’re an important part of Google Play.

Today, we’re launching Google Play game services, a core part of building a gaming platform for the next generation of games. These services help you make your games more social, with achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer, as well as more powerful, storing game saves and settings in the cloud. They are available on Android, and many on iOS or any other connected device. By building on Google’s strengths in mobile and cloud services, you can focus on what you’re good at as game developers: creating great gaming experiences for your users.

With game services, you can incorporate:

Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.
Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.
Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.
Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.

Several great Android games are already using these new game services, including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Google Play game services are available today through an SDK for Android, and a native iOS SDK for IPhone and iPad games. Web and other platform developers will also find corresponding REST APIs, with libraries for JavaScript, Java, Python, Go, Dart, PHP, and more.

We’re excited to see what games will do with these new services and experiences, and this is only the beginning. Wait until you get to the boss battle… er.. Check out our developer site to get started: https://developers.google.com/games/

Greg Hartrell, Lead Product Manager”

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