“One of the best ways to pass through the valley of boredom is to sail on your android boat through the river of Google play store checking out and playing games”.
Smartphones have risen as a major gaming platform in the last few years. Google reported that the number of android users who installed at least one game has doubled in the last year itself. However, trying out every new game is nearly impossible, as users must go through the time-taking process of downloading and installing the game first. With that in mind, there must be an easier way to preview games which would help users to take quicker decisions.
Google made this astonishing development announcement at the Game Developers Conference, 2018 held from March 19-23 in San Francisco. Android gamers will now be blessed with Google Play Instant that allows users to try the game without having to actually download it. Although it doesn’t allow the user to play the entire game but a certain part of it. After trying it out, the user can install or simply exit. This new feature will be rolled out as updates and will be available on more than one billion Android devices worldwide.
Besides the new feature, Google also announced certain changes in the Play Store that would be applicable with new updates. These include the “Arcade” tab, where user can view trailers and YouTube videos related to that game comprising of tips & tricks, walkthrough and more. Other tags like “New” or “Action” would assist to find a particular type of game. These have been added to boost user skills and help in becoming a game master. Finally, Google has also introduced some new tools to the Google Play Console platform used by developers to create Android games. Along with coding, testing also plays an important part in any app development cycle. Keeping that in mind, Google has also created a new testing feature which will allow the developers to test new games quicker providing up to 100 testers within minutes.
Google Play Instant has been built on the foundation of Google’s Instant apps feature which was released last year as a way for developers to bring an app experience to users without having to install it. In other words, all users had to do was hit a link within search results, and the “app” would load on their phone — then it would disappear from their device when they exited the app. Now, Google is extending that service to games.
As games require more promotional content, Google had to make a few changes to Instant apps for it to make work for games. It increased the limit of uploading the demo version from two MB for apps to ten MB for games. Currently, Mighty Battles and Clash Royale with file sizes of around 100 MB are a part of the list. However, it will be more pertinent only when big games with a file size of over one GB or premium games are available on it.
Google Play Instant is developed keeping in mind Google’s policies which include non-violation of copyright act and rooted phone. These were among the major reasons why Google removed over seven lakh malicious apps from Play Store in 2017. It has developed new detection models and techniques that can identify repeat offenders and abusive developer networks at scale.
Does it include all games?
As a start-up to the new feature, Google has created an ‘Instant Gameplay Collection” which includes six games where a user can try before the customary actions of download, install and buy in-app purchases if any. These include heavy hitters with over a million downloads like ‘Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire’ where the users can play a quick battle, ‘Bubble Witch 3 Saga’ which features a few full levels and ‘Clash Royale’ where you can storm a castle. Also, making a prominent entry in this list with two titles is Zynga with ‘Words with Friends 2’and ‘Solitaire’ and finally with ‘Mighty Battles’ the list concludes for now. However, Google’s blog post mentions that the list would include many more games later this year.
Time is precious. Users will not have to wait for the game to download, install and then try it out. Some games also require creating a profile before they can actually begin the gameplay. With this new feature they can click on the TRY NOW button, left of the regular install button and get a gist of the game first.
Save Space. This feature doesn’t require the user to clear the precious storage space in order to try out the game. There would also be no temp files left which can remain in some cases even after the user has uninstalled a particular game.
Better UI of Play Store. Not that the current user interface of the Google Play store has any inconveniences, but Google plans to make it even enhanced by giving better access to images and screenshots.
Save data costs. Users can save data costs as they will not have to download the entire game only to find that it does not meet their expectations.
Save money and refund hassles. This can come in handy for premium games with a hefty price tag as the user can judge before he/she purchases the game.
Authenticate app metrics. This reducing the instances of users installing and uninstalling a game quickly afterwards, which often result in damaging app metrics and analytics.
As this is still a closed beta project with limited games, many developers who are looking to add their games are facing disappointment. Google Play product managers Jonathan Karmel and Benjamin Frenkel stated that their teams are still working on providing developers with better tooling for building these apps and Google is also working with the likes of Unity and the Cocos2D-x teams to make building instant apps easier and also have plans to open it up to more developers later this year. Google has also provided an opportunity to sign up and apply by filling out the form here. Google also plans to include this feature in its Standard Operating Procedures in the near future.
Google Play Instant allows users to access a partial part of the game and get a sneak peek even if the game is not installed on their smartphones. The gameplay will be restricted to a few minutes only. However, the users will gain the real game understanding and see if the controls, visuals, gameplay are worth enough to download the original game. This strategy is not new and has been used for many years now by game developers who offer demos of console and PC games, providing users with limited access to certain elements only, but it was enough influence the user’s decision. Instant Apps can be utilized by developers to provide a similar experience to users on Android smartphone.