Tech

Google May Launch Games Platform at Googe I/O Conference

By Michael Mayday , May 12, 2013 09:06 PM EDT

Google is apparently looking to boost its mobile game offerings on its Android platform. A formal announcement of its intentions could come as soon as Wednesday, May 15, when Google's annual I/O conference starts.

Too bad, then, that a good deal of the Internet search giant's gaming plans have already been hashed out.

Android Police, an Android-based website, unearthed the details of Google Play Games after sifting through a prerelease version (v3.1.36) of the Google Play Services APK. What it found were the elements for a social-oriented gaming platform powered by Google+. Games will reportedly support multiplayer, leaderboards, unlockable achievements and cloud syncing, a la Apple's Game Center.

Google has been pushing for a stronger mobile games support within its company for a while. In April the search giant hired Noah Falstein, a 30-year veteran game developer who has worked for gaming companies like Lucasfilm Games and Dreamworks Interactive, as the company's new chief game designer, according to TechHive. The search giant also hired Rachel Bernstein, an Electronic Arts veteran who crafted games for the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Live Arcade.

But perhaps more telling than Google's hires are its plans for its annual Google I/O conference. The company has cut out a significant slice of its annual conference, dedicating up to half of its developer training sessions on the conference's first day, to discussing and developing games on the Android platform. There are more planned sessions for Android games this year then there has been in years past.

But Android-centric games doesn't mean Google is focusing only on mobile development. The Android platform also powers independent gaming consoles, such as the Ouya, and the Google Glass. Augmented reality games, like Ingress, are a possibility.

So why would Google be going out of its way to make such investments? As VentureBeat reports, investing in games could be a boon to both developers and Google as games account for three-fourths of Google Play store's revenue.

Google's investments in gaming could suggest the company wants to help game developers to make their games more viral through its services.

Google's annual Google I/O conference is a massively popular industry event, enabling developers to learn the details of new Google products and to share ideas for creating software for the Internet giant. This year's conference sold out of tickets, each going for $900, in under an hour. The 2012 conference, however, holds the record, selling out in 20 minutes.

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