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Google building social gaming platform similar to Apple’s Game Center, rumor says

by Phil Hornshaw

Google is working to amplify Android as a mobile gaming platform, and according to reports it’s creating an app that will function a lot like Apple’s Game Center software for its iOS games.

For those unfamiliar, Game Center is a sort of social platform for games on the iPhone and iPad. Developers can integrate with the software to create leaderboards for their games that players can view, add digital “achievement” rewards to their titles, and integrate friends lists and multiplayer support. It’s a lot like what other companies have created for their video game systems. Both Microsoft and Sony have a similar online platform for their video game consoles, although both are more robust than Game Center.

According to a story from Business Insider, Google’s platform will include a lot of the same features as Game Center. The story cites an unnamed source “familiar with the plans,” who claims Google is adding an achievement system to Android games, as well as online leaderboards. While many Android games already include those elements and use other social services, such as OpenFeint, Google’s platform would likely centralize games in a way that will be more expansive and ubiquitous.

Just how the platform will work, however, isn’t clear. Business Insider speculates that searching for and adding friends who play Android games will likely be done using the Google + social networking service, and that seems very likely given how Google is pushing the service in other avenues.

Apparently, however, Google is coming to realize that mobile gaming is a very, very big deal, and that Android needs to support that ecosystem in a better way if it wants to remain successful and competitive. Games account for more revenue than any other type of app in either Google’s Android market, now called Google Play, or Apple’s iTunes App Store. It seems Google has come to recognize that fact and is moving to support games and the developers who make them, in order to keep Android gaming flourishing.

The report also states that Google will be streamlining the process of purchasing games in Google Play to make it as easy to do as possible. Apparently, it’s another area in which Google is imitating Apple, Business Insider says. The unnamed source claimed that a big reason developers make less money on Google Play than in the iTunes App Store is because of these difficulties, and fixing them should help make Android more financially viable for game-makers.