Google launches Google Play Partner Program for large game devs

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Google unveiled its Google Play Partner Program today as part of its services for large game developers.

Google is holding its Google Games Summit today to talk about the latest features for game developers in the Android operating system and Google Play Store.

The online event is normally held at the Game Developers Conference, but this time Google was unsure whether to hold the event in person, given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, said Leo Olebe, director of game partnerships at Google Play, in an interview with GamesBeat. The event is taking place today and it will have several hours of content. Greg Hartrell, director of product for Google Play, and Olebe are speaking at the event. So are numerous other Google Play leaders. (Hartrell is also speaking at our upcoming GamesBeat Summit 2022 event.)

During the summit, the Android and Google Play teams will address tools for all parts of the game development lifecycle, whether they are an independent developer or an established studio. Google already has a Indie Game Accelerator program for small devs.

Google Play's Android Game Development Kit makes it easier for game devs.
Google Play’s Android Game Development Kit makes it easier for game devs.

The Google Play Partner Program will provide larger game developers and studios the resources they need to maintain and scale their games (including faster releases, additional tools to help fight scaled abuse, and more).

“The Google Play Partner Program is for large-scale developers, those who have long lead times and are investing a lot of time and money in their games throughout the whole lifecycle,” Olebe said. “What this program does is provide additional services and features that are really tailored for them. It focuses on faster releases, priority publishing, pre-launch tools, growth, engagement tools, post-launch tools, and more.”

He added, “Whether you’re at the beginning, the middle, or maybe like the largest part of your game developer journey, Google Play has value that we want to bring to you. Our whole goal is to help developers and publishers be successful.”

The Google Play team will also share more details on their Google Play Games for PC product, as part of their continued work to make Google Play Games a cohesive, multi-platform experience.

Olebe noted Google has made commitments to nonprofits in games to drive positive change in the game industry, with a possible focus on mental health in the game industry and improving diversity and people from underrepresented backgrounds.

“I think that it’s critically important for the entire games industry to continue to recognize that we’re better when we bring people in. And so that’s really what we’re focused on in the work that we do,” Olebe said.

The Android Game Development Extension enables developers to build for Android directly from Visual Studio. and the continued rollout of Play As You Download (coming soon to all Android 12 users, enabling players to instantly start a game from the Play Store listing), Google Play will make it faster to both develop and play games.

“How do we tell the story of supporting developers through their entire lifecycle?” Olebe said. “You have folks who are just starting out, you know. Maybe they’re building games in their garage. Maybe they’re early stage and have just been funded. Then you have folks who are more established, or supporting nonprofits. We have our Indie Games Accelerator and our Indie Games Festival. We have been doing those pretty consistenly over the years.”

Google said gameplay across tablets, foldables, and Chromebooks is on the rise and offers the opportunity to be more engaging and immersive than ever before.

In 2021, Android usage on Chrome OS grew 50% versus the previous year, led by games. Google Play Games for PC Beta rolled out in January to South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. This standalone Windows PC application built by Google, allows users to play a catalog of Google Play games seamlessly across their mobile phone, tablet, Chromebook, or (now) their Windows PC.

Google’s “play as you download” beta program was announced last year and it will soon open it up to all Android 12 users. It allows users to get into gameplay in seconds while game assets are downloaded in the background. and can happen with minimal developer changes.

The Android Game Development Extension, introduced last year, allows game developers to build directly for Android from within Visual Studio. To make debugging easier across Java and C, AGDE will now include cross compatibility between Android Studio and Visual Studio so devs can open and edit AGDE projects in Android Studio’s debugger.

The new Memory Advice API (Beta) library added to AGDK helps developers understand their memory consumption by combining the best signals for a given device to determine how close the device is to a low memory kill.

Google also fully launched the Android GPU Inspector Frame Profiler to help devs understand when a game is bottlenecked on the GPU vs. CPU, and achieve better frame rates and battery life.

Google is also launching Google Play revenue and revenue growth distributions for a game and its peer group, so devs can build revenue-based business cases for troubleshooting or device targeting, if that suits the game’s business model better than using installs.

For those who have games with global presence, Google launched country breakdowns and filters for Vitals metrics, so it’s easier for to prioritize and troubleshoot stability issues.

Google recently said that its Privacy Sandbox, which is being implemented with Chrome, will be open for the community to understand and offer feedback on. As for why Google didn’t have a GDC event, Olebe said that when Google was finalizing its plans, it was the height of the most recent Omicron wave and so it didn’t make sense to do something in person at that time.

“This is really how we’re showing up our partners,” Olebe said. “The last two years have been challenging. So we wanted to make sure that we continue to have a forum where we can reach as many people as possible,” Olebe said. “At the very beginning of all this planning, nobody knew the world was going to open up. So we did a digital format before and it worked really well.”

Google believes we have about 2.5 billion active gamers in the world across 190 countries. Google Play had about 140 billion downloads last year, and developers have earned more than $80 billion to date.

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