While local multiplayer sessions are possible, Android multiplayer gaming is for the most part turn-based or done via remote play. Google is looking to change that with some new functionality being added to the Play Games Android gaming framework. It is essentially a series of APIs and other tools that allows creators to implement a number of services into their games including time-based player events/quests, leaderboards, achievements and other features. And now Google Play Games is getting an update to its multiplayer capabilities with a new new kind of local support.
Asynchronous multiplayer gaming is all the rage these days. Whether it’s taking on your pal’s ghost-car times in Forza, or the more-interesting “ambient” multiplayer of the Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass system (letting you progress in games and trade items merely by being in proximity to someone who also has one of Nintendo’s handhelds), the idea that multiplayer gaming requires two people sitting on a sofa playing simultaneously is slowly being eroded. It seems Google’s Android platform is the next to take a stab at asynchronous multiplayer, and it looks as though it will be using StreetPass as its model. A tweak to the Play Games backend will allow developers to switch on ambient play and matchmaking options, letting players invite nearby pals or strangers into co-op or competitive mobile gaming bouts, and even allowing for passive interactions. It’s a small update, but a significant one as Android console manufacturers continue not to give up hope on the prospect of Google’s platform becoming a fully-fledged gaming competitor.