At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) today, Google announced a slew of improvements for Google Play Games, its cross-platform game service and SDK for Android, iOS, and the Web. New features include game gifts, multiplayer invites, and cross-platform multiplayer with newly added support for iOS.

Game gifts are exactly what you’d expect: a new service that lets players send virtual in-game objects to anyone in their circles or through player search. Multiplayer invites is also quite straightforward: the Play Games app allows players to add each other to their game.

screenshot gdc 2014 blog post Google Play Games gets gifts, multiplayer invites, cross platform Android and iOS multiplayer support

As for Google Play Game services, multiplayer support has been expanded to include iOS. This means both turn-based and real-time multiplayer capabilities are now cross-platform on Android and iOS. Developers will want to know that the Play Games Unity Plug-in will be supporting these new cross-platform multiplayer services.

Speaking of developer news, Google is also introducing an early Play Games C++ SDK to support achievements and leaderboards. Google Analytics will soon be available directly in the AdMob interface so developers can see how users are interacting with their app, as well as whether they are tapping on in-app purchase ads.

Next up, the company is launching enhanced Play Games statistics on the Google Play Developer Console, which show game analytics for Play Games adopters. Developers will have access to a daily dashboard that visualizes player and engagement statistics for signed in users, including daily active users, retention analysis and achievements, as well as leaderboard performance.

Last but not least, the Google Play Store will soon get 18 new game categories to help sort through the growing number of titles. These features are all rolling out gradually, starting on March 18, although Google wouldn’t say in what order to expect them.

See also – Google updates Play policies to ban apps and ads modifying devices, require games use its in-app billing service and Google Play Games gets new developer features: Key player stats, alerts, and twice the Cloud Save storage

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