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An Open Letter to Google: It’s Time to Take Gaming Seriously [Opinion]

google gaming android

This is a guest post written by DL reader Karl Ludwinski, a gaming enthusiast that wants to see Google and Android fully invest in the gaming movement, something they have so far, barely attempted to do.

First, let me say that I am not a developer or programmer of any kind, nor am I a writer. I am merely a tech and gaming enthusiast and a big fan of Android. I believe that by embracing gaming in a few key ways, both the Android platform and gaming as a whole can go further than they ever could by themselves.

To be clear, I’m not looking for any kind of credit for any of this. Most of these ideas (possibly all) have been discussed before in one way or another. I merely want to consolidate them into one list and increase awareness. I’d also love to hear other ideas that people have, any thoughts about these ideas I list, and any explanations of why they would not work as I have explained them or ways to improve them. 

1. Covering the Basics: Cloud Saves

I’d like to start with the biggest problem I currently face with gaming on Android. Mobile devices are in a period of rapid growth and advancement, and few people use the same device for more than a few years – some even upgrading multiple times a year. Android in particular, being an open platform, is incredibly popular with the dev community, resulting in deep customizations and custom roms that can require wiping devices regularly. For these reasons, the fact that app data is not backed up in the cloud is an incredible frustration and a severe hindrance to gaming on the platform.

Every time I upgrade to a new device or install a custom rom, I lose the save data for every game I’m playing. I don’t need to elaborate on that: anyone who has every played a videogame can see why that is a serious issue. Any existing workarounds involving backup apps or manual procedures are too complicated for most regular users (and likely require the device to already be rooted beforehand), are time- and storage-consuming when you are capable of performing them, and even then don’t always work.

Users of multiple devices encounter the same problem. I install a game on my tablet and my smartphone: After starting the game on my tablet and investing time into it, I find that when I leave home and later bring up the game on my phone, I have to start all over. All of my high scores are gone, nothing is unlocked. When I’ve invested time in a game with an engrossing story, the last thing I want to do is play that same part over again. I want to see what happens next!

The point is, there should be no talk of workarounds. The gaming experience should be unhindered and hassle-free across time and devices. This should be automatically implemented for users and just work. Apple has had this feature since late 2011. Google is already synonymous with the cloud, and the infrastructure is already there with services like Google Drive and Google+ that every Google user has access to. Android should have this feature plain and simple, but more importantly at this point, needs this feature to match competing platforms, avoid frustration for users, and advance the state of gaming.

2. The Google+ Equation: Achievements, Leaderboards, Friends

The next step is building a true gaming profile for users and a network to tie them together, ala Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. This is one of the most important factors for engendering user loyalty and increasing their desire to invest in the platform. It’s clear that gamers enjoy achievements and trophies: Not only do they increase replayability for individual games, a “gamerscore” or “trophy level” builds investment into the platform, increasing players’ desire to play more games as they seek to level up.

Global leaderboards can be built into this as well, and more importantly, a global friends list. I already have my Gmail contact list and Google+ circles (which perhaps should not be separate lists, but that’s another discussion), why should I have to go through an entirely separate system for my gaming friends list? It’s already all right there.

Imagine loading up Fruit Ninja: The Google+ system in the background pushes the global scores of everyone in my circles who has played the game to my device. I simply get a notification: my friend Bob just beat my high score in classic mode. Cool, I didn’t even know he played this game. Well, obviously I have to take the top spot back from him.

Then I load up Modern Combat 4. In multiplayer matchmaking, my friends list is automatically populated with people in my circles who play, and I see Joe is playing. I just tap and join his game. I don’t need to sign into an entirely different network, and I don’t have to rebuild my friends list. No muss, no fuss.

There are third-party systems that replicate some of this functionality such as OpenFeint for leaderboards and achievements. The problem is that, because they are third-party, most developers don’t add them to their games. Support is spotty, and when it’s there, it’s unpolished and clunky.

The importance of integrating this is the simplicity and lack of additional steps for users. Google already has a much bigger back-end cloud infrastructure than even XBL and PSN with all of their services such as Google+ and Drive, and leveraging all of these would create the most powerful and expansive gaming network there is. Everyone on Android already has a Google account, so everything is already right there; the gamey bits are all that need to be added. Once I set up my device and log in with my Google account, I should never have to sign into anything else for any game ever again.

moga android controller

3. The Nail in the Coffin for Dedicated Consoles: The Controller

In almost every article that has discussed a fancy new mobile game, and especially those forecasting doom for dedicated consoles due to the rise of mobile gaming, the majority of comments are guaranteed to be a variant of “Pfft, you can’t really game on mobile, touchscreens suck. They’ll never match a real controller.” And while often written even less eloquently than that, it is still partly true. Touchscreens can’t compare to the precision and fidelity of a real controller in most console game genres. Developers like Gameloft have proven you can fake it enough to make a game such as an FPS that is actually playable, but “It’s actually playable!” should not be the biggest praise you can heap on a game.

In this area also, third-parties are trying to make a difference. Products like OUYA, GameStick, and nVidia’s Project SHIELD seek to create the perfect open gaming system, while others like PowerA with their MOGA controller simply seek to make gaming on existing tablet and smartphone hardware better. Unfortunately, all of these have fatal problems.

For those products mentioned above that are essentially dedicated consoles, two main factors will prevent them from ever seeing mass adoption:

a.  As mentioned before, mobile hardware is advancing incredibly rapidly. As an example:  The Tegra 3 SoC was announced in February 2011 and released in November of the same year. The OUYA console was announced in July 2012 utilizing the Tegra 3, and will be released to retail in April 2013. However, in January 2013 nVidia announced the Tegra 4, expected to be 6 times faster than the Tegra 3. This will be released in Project SHIELD in Q2 2013, meaning that when OUYA releases, one of it’s competitors is going to have the next generation of it’s very own processor.

This is the problem any such device is going to face for the foreseeable future, as long as this pace of mobile hardware advancement keeps up. Home consoles have set hardware, which is fine when there are only a few consoles released around the same time with state-of-the-art technology, and nothing will be released to compete with them for another 5-10 years. When dealing with mobile hardware however, something faster will be out in a couple months, and again a few months later

b.  Hundreds of millions of people have smartphones or tablets or both, and this number is always increasing. If all these people already have an Android device, why would they want to spend hundreds of dollars to buy another Android device (most likely with inferior specs) just to play games? A smaller selection of games that have to be specifically coded to work with that device, no less.

For controllers like MOGA and it’s ilk, the problem is that there are a variety of these third-party controllers, and developers have to specifically code their games to support each and every one of them. Big surprise: They don’t. Not many people have these controllers, so why waste time and money coding for them? Users then don’t buy them because they don’t have support, meaning devs don’t support them… you get the idea.

From my limited understanding of development, this is what I think should be done: implement a simple standard controller input API right into Android. Use the standard controller scheme:

  • Two analog sticks with depressible buttons.
  • 8-way dpad.
  • Four face buttons (X, Y, A, B).
  • Two shoulder buttons and two triggers.
  • Start and Select buttons.
  • Perhaps a “Google Games” button similar to the Xbox 360 controller Guide button and the DualShock 3 PlayStation button (depending on how the Google+ integration works and if it makes sense), and maybe the Android Home and Back buttons.
  • If possible, optional rumble support.

Any third-party can make a controller that is a certified “Google GamePad” as long as it utilizes this API. They can be wired USB or Bluetooth.

Now, all a dev has to do for games where a controller makes sense is to utilize this built-in API that every Android device will have and every controller uses. This will be far less work than coding for the multiple different methods third-party controllers currently use, and much more viable as the install base will be much bigger with a standard.

The way the market is now with all these different Android consoles and controllers just isn’t working for the consumer, and the fragmentation is preventing the growth of gaming on Android from reaching it’s potential. With official “Google GamePad Compatible” controllers, all these problems are solved: I don’t need to purchase additional Android devices for different uses, and when I do upgrade to a new tablet or smartphone, I can choose whichever one suits my fancy and I can continue using my same GamePad.

4.  The Future: Wireless Everything, Cross-Platform Ubiquity

All of this is going to be especially important going forward in conjunction with other new Android features and Google’s expressed goals for gaming on their various platforms and services.

For one, Android now supports Miracast. Hopefully this will soon be in every TV as well, or at least the prices of adapters will come down to reasonable levels. Once all of the above is implemented, the ultimate portable wireless gaming machine emerges: I turn on my TV, switch my phone or tablet to Wireless Display, turn on my GamePad, and boom: the future of gaming. I no longer have any need of any other console. Anywhere I go, I have my own personal system with me, with all of my games and data.

An incredibly exciting detail to this is that with Android, this is more than just display mirroring:

“Android now allows your app to display unique content on additional screens that are connected to the user’s device over either a wired connection or Wi-Fi.”

The Wii U’s killer feature is it’s secondary display. PlayStation 3 now does this also using the Vita, and Xbox 360 has Smart Glass. Apparently this is the next big thing in gaming. Guess what? Android already has this too.

The Wii U’s killer feature is it’s secondary display. PlayStation 3 now does this also using the Vita, and Xbox 360 has Smart Glass. Apparently this is the next big thing in gaming. Guess what? Android already has this too.

As mobile processing power increases it’s getting closer and closer to computers and consoles, and the point will come where developers will be able to do pretty much whatever they can dream on these devices. The increased processing power of other non-mobile devices won’t make enough of a difference to warrant their existence. Major publishers like EA are already putting out games on Android, and as mobile power and capabilities increase we’ll only see them bringing over more and more AAA releases. Eventually (and I think sooner rather than later, perhaps after this upcoming console generation) it’s not going to be economically feasible to release games on a new console with an install base of perhaps hundreds of thousands, when they can release comparable games on mobile devices with an install base of hundreds of millions, and the idea of a dedicated home console is going to be a memory.

Secondly, everything here extends beyond Android to the PC as well. During GDC 2012, Punit Soni said:

“By next year, we will not be here talking about Google+ Games, Chrome Web Store games, Games for Native Client and Android games,” he said. “We will be talking about Google games.”

Google+ is not an Android-exclusive service: When it gets its injection of gaming goodness, that’s going to be on computers as well. We don’t need three versions of Angry Birds for Android, Google+, and Chrome. There can be one version that just works everywhere. Especially once publishers start porting more AAA games to Android due to the advancement of mobile power, this same store and gaming network will span across the Android and computer platforms meaning they only need to release it on Google and it will work for both mobile and computer gamers. With something like Native Client, it’s even possible that at some point developers could code one version of the game that works across both platforms. That may not be possible for a while and not for every game, in which case they can optimize for each instance and when you install the game, it automatically determines what your platform and device is and what version to install.

This is another reason we need an official “Google GamePad”. We can use the exact same controller for PC gaming too.

With home consoles gone and cross-platform gaming with an incredibly powerful integrated gaming network all available through Google, it’s possible and even probable that even the mighty Steam would become a secondary gaming platform on the computer.
So this is my wish list. This is what I envision as the future of gaming, and Google just happens to be perfectly poised to make it a reality. Most of what is listed above is actually possible on Android right now; there are complicated ways to manually back up app data, there are gaming networks like OpenFeint and ScoreLoop, there are a plethora of controllers, and Android can connect to TVs using HDMI or Miracast. Unfortunately, as I’ve explained, these currently aren’t good enough. All we need are these few additions to have the best gaming platform there has ever been.

Anyway, that’s what I think.

  • Jon Lambert

    The controller APIs have existed since Honeycomb, have they not?

  • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

    The controller thing really sparked a topic here. Im looking at the minimum requirements for half life 2: 1.2GHz Processor, 256MB RAM, DirectX7, mouse, keyboard, Internet. 3GB HD space.

    Preferred Requirements: 2.4 GHz Processor, 512 MB RAM, Directx9, mouse, keyboard, internet.

    We have these requirements now, its just a matter of someone porting it. We also have compatible keyboard and mouse. I imagine its just a matter of someone actually doing the work to an older game.

    How awesome would it be if valve developed for android

  • brando56894

    Cloud saves are definitely a must, I can’t tell you how many games I’ve stopped playing because I got far in it, forgot to back up my data and flashed a rom, realized that I didn’t have my data then said “F*** it!”. MOGA is definitely a nice piece of hardware, even though it’s a tad expensive ($50) and the default MOGA Pivot app kind of sucks because it is necessary to use the controller (you can’t simply pair your controller, then turn it on and it works with whatever game you want, you have to turn it on, load up pivot and then launch the game from within pivot), luckily the MOGA Universal Driver app from the play store fixes this shortcoming by allowing you to use it with almost any game (and allowing you to map your own buttons!) and connecting directly (you don’t have to go through pivot at all).

  • chris

    You are killing the actual handheld gaming industry with mobile gaming…

    • Karl Ludwinski

      Is that really a problem for consumers though? The handheld manufacturers might not like it, but tough beans. Why on earth should I care what they want? I don’t want to have to buy a smartphone AND a handheld, do you? Wouldn’t you prefer if all those games were on the mobile device you already own?

      And as I explain in the letter, I’m not talking about only the handheld market dying, I’m talking about the entire dedicated console market. I want everything on one device, and I think it’s totally feasible in the near future if they do it right.

  • http://twitter.com/iron_wilhelm Mike Duren

    With Sony already invested in both the android and the gaming market, I think it would be wise for Google to partner with them for the next Playstation. It would be awesome if users had the ability to install Android on their High-end gaming system, similar to how you were able to install linux on the original PS3 Fat.

  • Trevor

    Cloud saves. For the love of God, cloud saves.

    • Ximinez

      For the love of every goddamn thing. Please. Pretty please with a lot of sugar on top.

  • Keith Sumner

    In my opinion, smart phones and tablets just aren’t intuitive for fast acting/fast response/action types of games. I rarely game on my phone. When I do, they are puzzle or turn based.

    • http://twitter.com/JohnnyACE562 GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

      That’s what HDMI cables are for. {{-_-}}

    • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

      because thats all it really can do well with a touchscreen. anything over the use of 2 buttons is just too frustrating. if you had 100% controller support, you might be picking up duke nukem

  • James Hill

    Schmidt, are you listening?

  • siibel

    yeah we need feature like psn and xbox live, cmon google

  • Nerdrow

    There has been a game pad api since 3.2, a lot of games in the market support it.

  • Itchy_Robot

    I would love to see a Nexus gaming/GoogleTV set-top box..

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    >> 1. Covering the Basics: Cloud Saves

    Frankly, I gave up on this already. Ask anyone from Google and they will say — we already did that. An API to save app data to Google was made available since … let me see, Froyo? Check it out yourself:

    http://developer.android.com/training/cloudsync/index.html

    Sounds great, except that almost no one is using it. Not just games, but all apps. If Google listens, it should have known that no developer bothers using their Backup API. And, if they understand how badly this feature is needed, they will, and SHOULD, turn this into an user side feature — put it simply, let the user back up their data, instead of relying on the developers to implement it.

  • Joshua Dudash

    I don’t see why some of you think that he is incorrect with the controller being the final nail.
    With the S4 Pros, Tegra 4′s and beyond, the processing advantage that dedicated consoles have is rapidly slipping away from them. As the writer said, Consoles have a lifespan of 5-10 years, whereas new phones and exciting SOC’s are being released so quick that it’s hard to keep up. The Ouya was a perfect example of how fast we are advancing. I agree 100% with everything Karl wrote. I really do hope this goes somewhere.

  • Joe

    I hope Google and gaming companies really do take Android gaming seriously. I haven’t found a game worth it’s cost yet.

    • Alan

      I’d definitely pay console (big box/handheld) prices if the games are comparable to dedicated consoles in terms of story and gameplay.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      I’d have to say Dead Trigger is worth every penny you won’t pay for it ;) I’ve also picked up a lot of Gameloft games for $0.99 and less that I’d say are worth it. But — your point taken, I’d have a hard time justifying anything more than this.

  • http://thebeeobee.com/ thebeeobee

    I wish Android could handle music production. I’m jealous of all of the amazing synths and apps by Propellerheads, Korg, Moog, etc. Even some by small development houses…the ipad is a LEGIT INSTRUMENT. Android lags too much to play in real time consistently and hasn’t been able to develop that type of ecosystem..also, because there are so many different android form factors, companies like Line 6, Apogee and Akai haven’t been able to make accessories. Kind of a shame.

    • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

      i bet if you put your phone in airplane mode, your programs wont lag anymore. Its been my experience its the syncing with everything that lags you down. try it

  • J. Gilbertson

    Strongly agree with the first two! Controller would be nice if all tablets/phones had a means of propping themselves up in portrait or landscape since we can’t hold them when holding a controller. Miracast would be nice for having a big screen display when playing games but not exactly necessary. But it would be great for things like movie watching. Just not absolutely necessary for games that are already made for a smaller screen. I’m thinking 1 and 2 could almost be combined. Maybe our game progress could be tracked by Google+. For those that say saving app data in general is a must I almost agree except for there will be instances when I want unique app data between my phone and tablet. One could setup profiles in this case but then if you have one profile for a phone and one for a tablet that negates synchonization of game data between phone and tablet which leads me back to having game progress tracked via Google+.

    • JMonkeYJ

      stump stand is the bomb!

  • Rami Vuorinen

    Great letter filled with lots of ideas how to improve gaming in Android. Thanks guys!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ebrown20 Evan Brown

    you have to be a fool to not think google is not already working on this

  • Sirx

    Is there anyway to help someone at Google see this. Even if it’s just Bill, in Accounting, as long as a single person currently employed there takes 10 minutes to read this entire thing, then the puppies will all be saved.

    • Josh Flowers

      How do you know about Bill?

    • Karl Ludwinski

      Lol. That’s awesome. Come on people, it’s for the puppies!

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

      You can always email the top dogs!

      arubin@google.com
      lpage@googe.com
      eschmidt@google.com

      And the list goes on…

      • Karl Ludwinski

        Not a bad idea… Maybe we all should…

        • michael arazan

          And our emails would go straight into their spam filters.

    • Sarah

      if you want folks at Google to see this, you can either hope they read Android blogs (which they do) or share it on Google+. :-)

  • Havoc70

    Definitely well written article and i would have to agree with most of it. This should be sent to Google via G+.

  • John Burke

    Yes for Cloud Saves & Google+ Achievements / Leaderboards!

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    The Nail in the Coffin for Dedicated Consoles: The Controller

    No, the nail in the coffin (for me anyway) is graphics that can keep up with dedicated consoles, which is simply not going to happen. 90% of the population may be ok with casual games and a mobile GPU’s power, but I need the power and beauty that an Xbox 720 or PS4 will bring me.

    • Karl Ludwinski

      That’s definitely part of it too, but that’s not really on Google or android, that’s just hardware. Also, we’re already getting there. Did you see the demo of Dead Trigger 2? It really compares pretty favorably to early games from this generation of consoles, and it’s just getting better. Even if mobile games had better graphics than home consoles, traditional console genres like FPSs, 3D RPGs, etc. simply don’t control well with a touchscreen. That’s the main thing holding them back.

  • mustbepbs

    Sorry, but:

    3. The Nail in the Coffin for Dedicated Consoles: The Controller?

    Regardless of the controller, mobile games will never equal what you get on dedicated consoles. The games just can’t even scratch, at their absolute best, what dedicated consoles offer. With the studios behind Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and third parties, these app developers don’t stand a chance.

    Until you see them charging $40-50 per game in these app stores to cover the cost of development like those in the industry have to, you’ll never get a console quality experience.

    • Philip A. Kaiser

      Like mine craft? Just saying…

      • mustbepbs

        What about Minecraft? The pocket version is a joke compared to the desktop version. Minecraft for PC costs over $20. I can’t imagine how poorly the pocket version would sell at the same price with the same features.

        The mobile gaming market and the dedicated gaming market are two different markets, not combined. People who enjoy more casual games and games in small doses are better suited to the mobile market, as their phone/tablet they bought can play those games.

        Those who enjoy more in depth games that require more time and energy are more suited to dedicated consoles where you can’t get the experience anywhere else.

        Just look at Square Enix. They released ports of their older DS games onto iOS. They aren’t cheap. You know why? They cost a lot of money to port and tailor to the mobile operating systems and controls. Mobile games sell well in the $.99-$5.99 range, and their quality and longevity will reflect that.

        • http://twitter.com/sqlrob Rob

          They aren’t cheap because Square Enix wants to soak you.

          How much was GTA III compared to FF III?

          • mustbepbs

            Not a bad point, but FF3 & 4 are much larger games in comparison.

          • http://twitter.com/sqlrob Rob

            Really? A 128 Mb (note lowercase b) game versus a 4 GB (note capital B) one? GTA is orders of magnitude larger.

          • mustbepbs

            Larger as in length of gameplay.

          • http://twitter.com/sqlrob Rob

            It’s not the length of gameplay that costs to port. It’s the resources. A lot of stuff (in both games) is simple script that can be moved straight over after the engine is.

        • Philip A. Kaiser

          While I agree with you about pocket edition, I was sarcastically making a point that it doesn’t always take tens of millions of dollars to make a hit. The number two game played on Xbox right now happens to be Minrcraft. When you think about it, it is quite the oddity. Sure, i love halo, Gears, and all the other beautifully designed games out there, but sometimes simple just works.
          There are also tie-ins that people would like to see in the mobile arena in the meantime. Managing a madden or NBA team from your mobile and then playing it on a console isn’t a bad give/take. Maybe tune a car or paint it for your Forza or Gran Tourismo from a tablet or phone? I like the idea of all out gaming on mobile in the future but for now, there is a lot more they could offer other than Angry Birds.
          In essence, I agree with your statement. :-)

          • mustbepbs

            It’s hard to say how much it cost to make Minecraft as Notch works for Mojang, and they pay his salary, and he made the game. So in essence, it cost however long it took him to make.

          • Philip A. Kaiser

            I suppose so.. Well touche. Thanks for killing my point. j/k
            You know, not so long ago, Nvidia was talking about streaming high end games to low end PCs to help their market keep up with technology. Basically, have a high end server running… let’s just say Flight Simulator X with the settings at full tilt and then streaming it to an Acer One. Supposedly, bandwith would be your only crutch and it would work. I wonder if something like that could not be accomplished to mobile devices. It would be cool.

          • mustbepbs

            Yeah it could work theoretically, but the money involved in such a service is what shut down OnLive. OnLive had a dedicated machine to each user who wanted to play a game. You could use it on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

            NVIDIA is taking that technology and making it available for home users who have high end PCs to stream it to the SHIELD handheld. Pretty niche, but it’s a start.

            And yeah, bandwidth is your biggest hurdle. Unless you have a high speed connection and unlimited bandwidth (home internet/4G speeds), it’s useless to play it. Which kind of brings up the question if it’s even worth it, considering most people would probably use these things at home..and would defeat the purpose of it all together.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39102543 Franklin Ramsey

          I think his point is that the two markets can be and will be combined. Look how fast technology is changing. I’d say current high end mobile technology is closing in on or has surpassed the shear processing power of consoles. Take Modern Combat 4 as an example. If you had a standard wireless controller (Bluetooth), and Miracast to send the devices content to a T.V. you wouldn’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket and you have a similar experience to what current console’s offer graphically. The two markets will merge. He’s suggesting Google should try to head this up now.

          • mustbepbs

            Modern Combat 4 looks good, I’ll give you that, but it doesn’t compare to PCs or even the Wii U version of Black Ops 2 in terms of visuals.

            The two markets WERE combined (gaming), but they are splitting (mobile gaming and console gaming). Having these devices, a bluetooth controller, and a TV capable of wireless display is a lot to ask, considering consoles now can connect to any TV and come with controllers and games. Plus the tastes of both markets, mobile being more casual and time sensitive, and console being more time consuming and dedicated.

      • EricRees

        I think better examples would be Halo 4, Heavy Rain, God of War, Gears of War, Bioshock. Games with lots of story, graphical prowess and depth to the world and gameplay that indie developers can’t do on an indie budget.

        • http://twitter.com/sqlrob Rob

          What about GTA III, Max Payne and Bard’s Tale?

          • EvanTheGamer

            GTA III’s controls are kinda wonky using touch-based controls on my G-Nex, haven’t tried Max Payne yet, but Bard’s Tale worked surprisingly well. Still need to give these games a whirl using my MOGA controller.

      • EvanTheGamer

        Minecraft*

        • Philip A. Kaiser

          That was my stupid spell check.

          • EvanTheGamer

            Yeah, I figured. Sorry…lol

          • Philip A. Kaiser

            No problem. I had one of those “doh” moment when i hit post. Didn’t bother to edit. Lol

    • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

      you are reaching a much bigger audience with android. they could always be an afterthought like how a game is developed for consoles then ported to android with low quality graphics

  • Ken Bosse

    I agree with everything, except for the controller being the end of consoles

  • joejoe5709

    Great article. Cloud based app data saving (not just games to be honest) would be the biggest improvement. That alone should be implemented ASAP. From a militant Android fan, it’s depressing that Apple has had a (clunky) version of this for a couple years now. Let’s get with the program!

  • Karl Ludwinski

    Thanks for posting this guys!

    • EvanTheGamer

      Very well-written article man, great job! I pretty much agree with everything you wrote.

      And yes, cloud saves is a must. The big consoles do this, so mobile gaming should, as well.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      I think this is really well thought out and well written.

      Cloud saves are interesting. Koush might be helping solve this problem with Carbon. We’ll see how it goes. It’s at least an interesting first step. The thing I’d add, though, is that it would sure be nice to see more devs integrate this on their own. Dead Trigger is a great example of a game that does this well (in my experience anyway).

      The nail on the head part of this article, though, is the controller. I cannot express just how much I agree with you on this. I have tried, tried, tried to play games in genres I’d really like to play in the mobile space (platformers and FPS games, mostly), and it just isn’t the same.

      And I completely agree. I don’t think the tech is going to evolve in a way that will fix it. Touchscreen tech is touchscreen tech. Precision is going to require an additional type of input.

      The idea of building an API into Android makes all kinds of sense. I’m not a programmer or dev either… can anyone weigh in on the feasibility of something like this?

      • Karl Ludwinski

        Thanks! Yeah, in the meantime Carbon could be very helpful. I forget there’s other ways of doing that like Dead Trigger. That requires more back-end resources from devs though so I’m sure that’s why it’s not more prevalent.

    • Jeff Tycz

      Google does provide services for cloud saving but if developers dont put that in then how are you going to sync up to the cloud?? saying that this is googles responsibility is an ignorant statement. If you want to complain to someone about saving your game status to the cloud blame the developers of that game and not google. Google should not be responsible for everything, they can only provide the tools. If google did provide an easier way to sync to the cloud but developer dont implement it still how are you going to sync up?? Basically to sum up what I am saying is there are several tools (not just google see Amazon Web Service) that would allow a game to sync to the cloud but in the end it comes down to the developers to implement these tools not google.

      • Karl Ludwinski

        Absolutely, the final responsibility is on the devs. I’m not totally familiar with what back end infrastructure is there currently, but it can’t be very good or you’d think more apps would utilize it.

        • Jeff Tycz

          I am a developer and have looked into using a cloud backend for my apps, its not difficult at all but it costs money to pay google, amazon etc for it. If you create the backend yourself it will be cheaper in the long run but the startup costs are very high and if you are just a small developer like me thats not an option

          • JMonkeYJ

            i believe Google’s backup service is free, but you’re limited to a 1 MB “save” file

          • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

            couldn’t you create an option to save to google drive? The user would have to log into his drive account, but once thats done, autosave files could go there.
            kinda like when you login to words with friends using facebook.

          • Jeff Tycz

            the user has to sign up for google drive but that will only work with files…what about data such as high scores and such or private data that you dont want anyone to have access to?

    • Alex Farra

      The two biggest points you made there are cloud gaming and a standard controller API. Very few devs implement controller functionality because of this and especially with all the android consoles coming out soon we need to have a standardized controller API so that devs don’t have to choose which console they want to support.

  • Meefle

    As a dev, I completely agree! We’ve been holding out for a Google-like game center for our games after OpenFeint got bought out and went downhill (in our opinion). And cloud saving, yes please!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marshall.ladd Marshall Ladd

    Could not have been said better.

  • http://twitter.com/domenuk Dominik

    Well… Google has cloud backup already. Seems like it’s the app developers that are lazy. http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/data/backup.html

    • Nicholas Benson

      That page does say this though: “Note: The backup service is not designed for synchronizing application data with other clients or saving data that you’d like to access during the normal application lifecycle. You cannot read or write backup data on demand and cannot access it in any way other than through the APIs provided by the Backup Manager.”

    • TheDrizzle

      Whaaaa? That’s awesome! How have I never heard about this?

  • eltahur

    You missed one big one, or maybe even the biggest one: optimize games for android phones, all, not just ones with certain CPUs or GPUs. Playing an FPS on any latest android handset is horrible; the phone heats up, the battery drains extremely rapidly and poor frames on top of it. Play the same game on a second gen iPad and iPhone and you can game all day without skipping a beat….

    • EricRees

      Taking time to optimize for every CPU and GPU combination that Android offers would mean that games would never get released. iPads and iPhones all run off (mostly) the same architecture (varying slightly from generations) so if you make it run smoothly on one, it’s going to run well on most of the others. Much less time needed.

      • http://twitter.com/domenuk Dominik

        Well it’s not hard to support all Hardware, it’s just hard to not only support but also have the best possible experience on all. That’s why Tegra is the supperior Gaming platform while being the worse processor. NVIDIA just pays devs to make the best out of their hardware instead of caring about others…

      • Eltahur

        Unfortunately for all of us android users that is why iPhones and iPads will always be better mobile gaming devices than android.

      • Fattie McDoogles

        So what you’re saying is Google needs to use their Nexus line a hardware standard that builds on itself each year so that their are more and more devices that fit the mold and makes it easier for developers to create and maintain their apps across multiple devices.

      • http://twitter.com/sqlrob Rob

        You can say the same about PC too though. Do a “best with” and leave it there. Heck, isn’t that already done with the “Tegra” games?

  • EricRees

    Great article! Finally someone else who realizes that touchscreen controls are just not going to cut it for any gaming device that wants to take itself seriously.

    The only way that I can see Google winning in this department is making their system totally software-based, with the cloud saves, achievements and all of that on the back-end. Take that back-end and make it accessible to any computing device: tablet, phone, computer, Google TV. At that point you’ve already got half the console, Google only has to release a controller at that point. One controller that can connect to your phone, PC, tablet or whatever. Keeping the controller price somewhere to the $50-75 range even all the way up to $100 and I think they could pull it off.

    Thoughts?

    • Karl Ludwinski

      Exactly. That’s exactly what I want to see too.

    • Fattie McDoogles

      I think what @google-95f644f196d5656cf54263734daddf41:disqus said is a better idea and more like something Google would do. We are having a hard enough time getting Google to take the idea of gaming seriously what would make you think they are gonna build hardware for it. I think if they just map a controller and let companies make their own that fits with Google’s API would be a more likely and easier solution for all parties involved. I think $75 is way too much for a controller, remember thats all it’s going to be is just a controller. You buy brand new Xbox controllers for $35- $50. The only way I really see any of this happening is if Nivida and Google partner with a mainstream gaming company to port a title to Android.

    • TheWenger

      It seems like Chrome is pretty good at syncing everything across all the browsers you’re signed into across different workstations. Saved app data for games can’t be that huge that it would be a huge task to implement cloud data.

  • stkiswr

    I would like to see Google pay some money to Microsoft and somehow incorporate the ability to play online Xbox 360 games via my phone. Black ops 2 and my phone would be perfect. And real integration. Like I actually could play online matches just as if I picked up my 360 and was using it.

  • Greg Morgan

    Well written. I completely agree about the cloud saves. I regularly flash roms and get quite irratated when I have to start over on Angry Birds…!

    • gamer1

      Titanium back up will save your data, upload it to drop box if you want to move it to a new phone

      • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

        That’s for rooted users though. We want something that all Android users can benefit from.

        • Greg Morgan

          And it takes forever to back up and download from dropbox.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            How do you get it to download from Dropbox?

          • Greg Morgan

            You have to have Premium Titanium Backup i believe. When in the app, menu–> preferences, make sure dropbox is enabled. Then, from main screen, go under schedules and and sync to dropbox. that will upload all your backups to dropbox and then you can download them at another time if you switch phones or accidentally delete your backup folder.

          • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

            If I were to pick 1 paid app, Titanium backup would be the one. you back up with that app, drag the folder to your desktop, wipe your phone or get a new one. Drag the folder to the new phone. All your apps, saved states and everything is transferred. done. you dont even have to redownload the apps

    • Raven

      You do realize that as well as Titanium Backup, there are multiple Angry Birds backup apps available that don’t need root. You don’t always have to start over, but it is more complicated than it needs to be if we had cloud backups. I am very surprised that even Rovio hasn’t done this on their own for their games.

      • Greg Morgan

        Actually I didn’t know there were apps that backed up game play. I’ll check them out.

    • Karl Ludwinski

      Incidentally also the reason I don’t play Angry Birds anymore. :)