'Google Play Games' leaks ahead of I/O signaling new social features

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Plenty of games are already available for Android devices through Google Play. But just ahead of Google I/O, a leaked APK indicates that they're all about to get a lot more social.

Android Police got its hands on Google Play Services v3.1.36, a file that updates Google apps on Android devices. Google is apparently using it to push out the shared files for Google Play Games -- an online multiplayer social gaming network similar to Apple’s Game Center for iOS or Microsoft’s Xbox Live.

Android Police is an authority when it comes to leaked APKs, or Android application package files, which are the file format used to distribute and install application software on the Android operating system.

Code in the APK indicates the new platform will include matchmaking, in-game chat, achievements, leaderboards, invitations, and more. Best of all, it will save game data in the cloud so that if you want to pick up where you left off later, or on a different device, you’ll be able to do so.

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The platform also will integrate with Google+—Google’s social network and a growing rival to Facebook—which will manage a user’s identity and let people engage with their social circles about gameplay.

Will Google Play Games be this year’s big announcement at Google I/O? It’s likely, considering the I/O schedule for developer training sessions is loaded with game-related themes on Day 1, which is Wednesday. In fact, out of 10 Android sessions that day, half are explicitly about games. While that might not seem like a big deal, Google I/O 2013 has more gaming sessions than the previous two years combined.

Also, Google likes to make a bang during the annual event and a new social gaming platform certainly fits the bill.

Last year during the developer conference, Google pulled off the remarkable demo of Google Glass in which skydivers wearing the computerized headset jumped out of a Zeppelin and somehow managed to land on top of Moscone Center in the middle of downtown San Francisco.

Google may be paving the way for virtual reality gaming and other entertainment experiences with Glass. While Google isn’t publicly promoting any Glass sessions during I/O yet, the new wearable technology will almost certainly be a topic of discussion during the conference—especially since a bunch of Googlers and developers will probably be walking around wearing them.

Other clues that Google is getting serious about gaming include the fact that it recently hired big names such as veteran game designer Noah Falstein, who has worked in the gaming industry since 1980 with companies such as Lucasfilm Games (before it was LucasArts Entertainment) and Dreamworks Interactive, as well as Electronic Arts veteran and Frog City Software co-founder Rachel Bernstein.

Stay tuned. TechHive will cover all the news coming out of Google I/O.

This story, "'Google Play Games' leaks ahead of I/O signaling new social features" was originally published by TechHive.

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