Google launches new services for Android game developers

Google today announced a number of new services for game developers at its annual Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference. They include tools for managing virtual goods and currencies, the launch of the Video Recording API so developers can make it easier for players to stream and share videos to YouTube, and a new ad type that allows new players to trial a game for 10 minutes right from the mobile search results page.

Google didn’t share all that many new numbers about games on Google Play today, but the company did say that the number of games reaching more than a million installs grew by 50 percent.

160310_pandapop-256--5.5MBcThe most interesting of these new features is probably the announcement of Google’s new “Search Trial Run Ads.”

These new ads, which will launch in a few weeks, will allow users to stream a game right from the search results page without having to install it. All new players have to do is hit the “try now” button and the game will stream to the phone from Google’s servers. This trial period is limited to 10 minutes. After that, Google will prompt players to install the game from Google Play (and maybe pay for it).

The concept here is similar to Google’s effort in streaming search results from some more static apps like Hotel Tonight when they offer the best results for a given search. Streaming content from games, though, is obviously a tougher challenge. As a Google spokesperson told me, that’s why this new feature will only appear for users who are connected to Wi-Fi.

Other new advertising features in this update include support for portrait video ads and the ability to target ads to users who spent more than 30 minutes playing games (or who played any Google Play Games game) in the last 30 days. Chances are, after all, that these users are also the most likely to want to try a new game. Both of these features are scheduled to launch in the next few weeks.

To help indie developers, Google is also adding a new “Indie Corner” to Google Play. The company says this new section will highlight “amazing games built by indie developers.” Developers who want to participate will have to submit their game for review — and the game has to be “awesome,” of course.


The addition of Google’s new Video Recording API for game developers is probably the most interesting. With this, game developers will soon be able to allow players to stream their gaming sessions right to YouTube (hello, Twitch!). They can, of course, also record their games offline and share their videos to YouTube later on, too. This new API is slated for a public release “in the coming months.”

Other new features announced today include the ability to update gameplay and game economy parameters in games in real time without having to upload a new version of an app to Google Play, as well as a new service that gives developers the ability to predict which users are most likely to spend money in their games (or drop out).