I’ve actively avoided installing Google Play Games Beta for PC since it launched back in November as I felt the need to enable hardware virtualization was a frustrating barrier. For my Windows PC specifically, I had to enter my BIOS and enable it, but only after installing additional chipset software from AMD.
However, now that I’ve done so, I’m starting to see the appeal of its clean UI and promise of bringing over a decade of mobile game possibilities to the big screen. It’s exciting to see the potential of Android gaming finally realized on larger displays, despite the mediocre selection of titles that exist on the service at this time.
The app allows users to play these mobile games with a mouse and keyboard, which provides a much more tactile experience than tapping on a phone screen. Erasing the walls between device form factors is a step in the right direction for the future of gaming in my opinion and we’re already seeing more developers integrating cross-platform play between handsets and desktops. The fact that Google is testing the waters on bringing Android games to the PC shows that the company is taking steps to broaden the gaming experience for its users.
Unfortunately, as I’m running the app on Windows 11, I’ve noticed that after some extensive testing, some games tend to crash constantly after a few minutes of gameplay or inactivity. However, other games, like Summoner’s War Chronicles, are mostly a joy to play. It’s clear that Google is being selective with the experiences it drops on the platform and is not simply porting over apps meant exclusively for phones, so it’s clear the development team cares. The caveat is that working with developers to tailor their games for use with peripherals is no easy or quick task, so it’s going to be a slow process.
That being said, there are still some problems adapting touch controls to the mouse and keyboard. For example, while clicking and dragging to rotate my character in Summoner’s War Chronicles, my mouse isn’t captured within the game window, so it goes off-screen and messes up battles.
However, the upcoming Game Overlay could help with this sort of thing, but we’ll have to wait and see. For now, it’s literally just mapping keypresses to touch or tap functionality and relating mouse drags to swipes of your finger. This is a frustrating and paltry attempt at forcing compatibility with peripherals since developers have refused for years to port their games properly, but what else could Google possibly do, right? It’s ambitious and admirable but ultimately may never feel as tailored as true PC controls. I hope I’m wrong about this.
Overall, I’ll continue to tinker with Google Play Games Beta for PC despite my earlier hesitation in hopes that it improves. It’s exciting to see what Google has in store for the future of mobile gaming, and this beta is a hopeful but bare-bones step in the right direction. If the company doesn’t kill it off after a year or two, we could see a new wave of games designed for both mobile and PC, and Play Games could be at the forefront of that movement for a general audience.