Google To Take On Apple’s Game Center Soon, Leaks Suggest

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Games dominate the mobile app ecosystem. Seriously.

It’s easy to forget that as we all search for the next big, hype-worthy app of the moment, but it’s the truth. Eight out of the ten most purchased apps last year were games. Nine of the ten highest grossing apps in the App Store last year, all games.

Combine this with the fact that Apple’s Game Center was launched almost 2.5 years ago, and it’s a bit strange that Google has yet to launch a Game Center-esque hub of their own for Android.

If a string of recent leaks hold true, they’re finally getting around to it.

The guys over at AndroidPolice tore apart a just-released APK for “Play Services” — the behind-the-scenes grunt app that handles things like app updates — and have unearthed a host of details suggesting that Google is on the verge of launching a centralized gaming hub for Android that’ll handle everything from game invites to leaderboards.

In the absence of anything more official, the hub is tentatively being referred to as “Google Play Games”.

Could this be part of the reason why Google hired gaming industry vet Noah Falstein?

While it’s not clear exactly which features will be ready to go on day one, there are breadcrumb trails for all sorts of different functionality. Here’s what Play Games appears to be able to do:

  • Game invites. For now, it seems that the invite system is pretty closely tied to Google+.
  • Matchmaking
  • Save syncing (to maintain your game saves between devices and installs)
  • There’s some stuff in there for both real-time and turnbased multiplayer, suggesting that Google might be taking some of the weight of making a multiplayer game off the developer.
  • In-Game chat
  • Achievements
  • Leaderboards

None of this stuff works at the moment, as the hacked-apart APK only contains a small chunk of the puzzle. With Google I/O just days away, however, you can almost certainly expect to hear more about this next week.