Google wants to create a new service to compete with Apple’s iOS dominance in mobile gaming with its own version of Game Center for Android.
According to AppleInsider, Google is working to create a service like Apple’s Game Center to connect users through games. The service would give gamers a chance to interact with one another and earn achievements, or whatever Google decides to call them.
Like Game Center, Google’s gaming service will provide leaderboards for single-player games, and matchmaking for multiplayer games. It will offer a centralized app for games like OpenFeint, but users won’t have to sign up for another service to use it.
The problem with Google’s idea is that Android needs more high-quality games for it to work. Apple created Game Center as a centralized hub for the high-quality games on its platform, not to attract more games to the platform.
Android does have some high-quality games and support from a number of big publishers like EA and Rovio. Apple’s platform, however, is the platform of choice for independent game developers (and independent developers in general). We’ve heard reports of developers pulling out of Android in favor of iOS before for a variety of reasons.
A Game Center-like service might draw in some bigger games and more independent game developers, but there’s no guarantee it will happen. Achievements, leaderboards, and matchmaking are all good services to provide, but they’re worthless if developers can’t make enough money on the platform to justify building games for it.
Google is really facing a chicken and egg problem here. A Game Center-like service could draw in bigger and better games, but it’s only useful if there are bigger and better games.
Instead of trying to improve the experience of the few great games on the platform, Google should focus on trying to attract more great developers to the platform. Android users have to wait weeks for some of the top iOS games to make it to their platform of choice,and then Android users tend towards the free, ad-based versions of games.
Companies like Noodlecake are trying to bring more iOS games to Android, but for the most part it’s a long process that involves buying multitudes of devices to test the games on. Google needs to find a way to make the process easier. Even larger publishers like Gameloft skip over Android for many releases, which should bother Google.
Please Google, as someone who just switched over to Android, even if just for a few months, I’d like a few great games on the platform. Android users don’t need all the big games that come out on iOS, but great games like Epic’s Infinity Blade and Gameloft’s new NOVA 3 would be great to see on the platform. Even less graphically intense games like Hero Academy and Jetpack Joyride would be a huge improvement.
Android gamers shouldn’t have to live with just casual games and whatever EA decides to throw at the platform.