A surprising document that came out of Google’s court battle with Epic Games during the whole Fortnite fiasco just surfaced and it reveals Google’s ambitious vision for the future of its vast Android games ecosystem. While much of the 70-page document is redacted, there are many things that are not, and it’s telling. It’s also worth noting that this entire thing is tagged “Brought to you by ‘partially funded’ and ‘i have a dream’ productions, so it wasn’t written directly by Google, but proposed to them as ‘Google Highly Confidential’ and ‘Outside counsel eyes only’.
There’s just so much that I could say about this, and I intend to cover different aspects of it over time, but today, I wanted to focus on the overall understanding of what the company had planned, whether or not I believe this will still come to fruition and one particular aspect of it that could be very interesting to Chromebook owners!
In the document, Google wants to become the ‘largest consumer-facing game platform worldwide, across screens’. That’s a bold aim, but with the largest catalog of games, it could have potentially pulled this off. I say ‘could have’ because the PDF, which you can view for yourself down below, is dated last year, and much of what it contains still does not exist.
By offering quality titles across Windows, macOS, Android, and Chrome OS, Google hoped to provide a universal gaming experience for users despite their platform. It was set to feature a Play Games overlay with cross-device usage, instant downloads, and more. You can see from the image below that it was proposed to work on laptops, phones, tablets, smart displays, and even televisions using a portable game controller that could be paired to any device! The coolest part is that the graphic for this shows something more akin to a Switch joy-con that can be carried around in your pocket or attached to your phone like the Game Sir X2.
While the effort was supposed to target indie titles, specifically starting with 100 of the highest quality and branching out from there, turning the mobile app into an indie destination (the largest portion of Android games are indies!) it also mentions streaming titles. Streaming games and the inclusion of a gamepad that can be paired to any device sounds an awful lot like Stadia, doesn’t it? It’s my belief that this Games Future, is still something the company has in full swing, but I do believe that with the closure of Google Stadia Games & Entertainment, it’s been slowed down. Perhaps Google is being more cautious and methodical as it builds out its Play Pass initiative, Stadia, and more. Only time will tell, but it’s still very exciting nonetheless!
Something that almost no one is really talking about in regards to this presentation but that struck me as very interesting is a revamped user interface for the Google Play Games application found on Android and Chrome OS. In the image below, you can see what looks to be a mock-up of a full-fledged desktop application for macOS and Windows. It features the Play Games logo at the top-left, has a feature area for PUBG, and more. A ‘New & Noteworthy’ section shows Angry Birds and what may be Clash of Clans while a right-hand sidebar has ‘Continue playing’ and ‘Install and play again’ modules.
Across the top, while difficult to read, there are ‘Home’, ‘Library’, and ‘Profile’ tabs, a search icon, and a profile image placeholder – just like the Play Games Android app. If you compare this screenshot to the current iteration of the app when launched on a Chromebook, it looks a lot more mature, easier to navigate, and very much built for mouse and keyboard usage. If this was meant to be an idea of what the Windows and macOS application would look like (and may if it still comes to be!) then I don’t see why they couldn’t, shouldn’t, and wouldn’t also replace the ridiculously odd mobile app interface with horizontal touch scrolling on Chrome OS.
Ultimately, this document is a bit older, and while we’re seeing some of what it contains ever-so-slowly come to pass, there’s no way to tell if we’ll ever receive something this ambitious. However, with Stadia already fully implemented across all devices, including Google TV and Android TV, the Stadia controller being able to be paired with pretty much anything aside from smart displays, Google’s gaming efforts with Play Pass and the Nest Hub Family tab, Windows 11 rolling out Android app support, Google practically begging developers to support desktop display sizes and peripherals for mobile apps and games, and Borealis coming to Chromebooks, I truly don’t believe that this is far off.
I also refuse to believe that just because this document was discovered in court, it’s dead in the water. I don’t think that we’ve seen the last of what Google has planned for the future of gaming, and how it intends to completely redefine what that can be – streaming and local alike. Let me know down below in the comments what you think about all of this. I think gamers have plenty to look forward to, and even if much of what is here is no longer on the table in its written form, I can see Google taking it and implementing it in a new way down the road as it does with pretty much everything else.
Source: The Verge
View Google Games Futures document