Google is working on a native Android app similar to Game centre, an app on the iPhone that connects players in most of Apple’s iOS games, according to a source familiar with the plans.That’s a key piece of software plumbing necessary to make Google a contender in the fast-growing mobile games market.
Google’s software will include a social “achievement” system, which gives people awards and trophies for doing certain things in games. It will also include a leaderboard which will rank players against their friends, our source told us.
Developers creating Android games use a variety of third-party solutions right now from other startups like OpenFeint, but Google is recognising how important games were in making the iPhone popular, so it’s making a native client, our source said.
It’s not clear if the new friend-finding app would rely on Google+, the search giant’s social network, but it seems likely. Google CEO Larry Page has pushed employees to tie the company’s products more closely together. Creating a Game centre-like application which connects players on Android based on a common, Google-based online identity would certainly fit with that vision.
“They are starting to really understand all of the needs and wants to make a game really successful,” an industry source close to developers told us. “As recently as even a year ago, that really wasn’t part of their institutional DNA, But I think they’re getting there.”
One more area where Google is imitating Apple, according to our source: Fixing the payments system for Google Play, the online store where players buy Android games and other apps, to make it as smooth as buying games in the App Store. That’s been a big reason why Android developers make less money than those who build apps for Apple’s iOS devices.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.