What Google I/O Means For Games

Three tidbits came out of Google I/O that will impact the mobile/social gaming ecosystems.

Google TV: Google TV is getting an update to a version of Android 3.1 and will serve Android Apps this summer. In concert with this launch will be a variety of new devices running the OS. The initial rollout was a considerable dud, in a large part due to the blocking of access to online content by major content providers. This new update is sure to result in a considerable amount of gaming content, many of which will quite possibly make use of Android 3.1's support for USB accessories, including gamepads.

Chrome and WebGL: During the Chrome presentation, Google touted the support for both HTML5 and WebGL acceleration. To highlight these capabilities, they brought out Rovio, who announced plans to create a Web-based Angry Birds. This, in addition to the announcement of in-app payments for Web apps, could juice up the Web app gaming ecosystem. This ecosystem hasn't exactly been floundering with the massive number of Flash games out there, but HTML5 and WebGL are certainly welcome technologies as endpoint devices shift away from desktops/laptops (though from playing the Angry Birds beta, the tech still has room to grow).

Ice Cream Sandwich: Google's Android has lagged far behind iOS in support for games in the market. iOS offers some awesome games, and while Android's apps for most other market segments have caught up to its Cupertino competitor, Android's game offerings still aren't quite there. Previously, this may have been based on install base, but now Android devices are outpacing iOS sales, and have become the dominant force in the mobile market. So the developer complaint that Android is too fragmented to develop for remains a quite salient point. Google is tackling this head-on with its update for all Android devices (i.e. phones, tablets, and TVs) slated for Q4 this year. Codenamed "Ice Cream Sandwich" the update will allow apps to be created once for any sized device. Technically, this is a hard claim to trust completely, but it is clear that the fragmentation issue is currently Google's main focus for the OS.

While no single item really stood out as an overwhelming change to game ecosystems, the combination of the above may prove to put Google on the map next to Apple in "new generation" gaming companies.



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