Tag Archives: Games

Grow your games with Google Play’s Indie Games Accelerator & Festival

Posted by Leticia Lago, P&E Developer Marketing

Google Play Indie Games Festival and Accelerator 

At Google Play, we are committed to helping developers of all sizes reach their full potential, and go further, faster. To continue supporting indies as they bring some of the most innovative titles to players worldwide, today we’re opening submissions to the 2022 edition of our two annual programs - the Indie Games Accelerator and Festival.

Through these programs, independent game developers and small studios can boost their game’s visibility, get training, and tap into a network of gaming experts:

  • If you are a small games studio looking for help to launch or grow a new title, enter the Accelerator to get exclusive training by mentors and industry experts;
  • Or, if you have already created and launched a high quality game that is ready for the spotlight, enter the Festival in Japan, South Korea or Europe for a chance to win promotions and reach new players.

Submissions for both Indie Games programs are open from June 1st to July 1st, 2022.



For more updates about Google Play’s programs, resources and tools for indie game developers, follow @GooglePlayBiz on Twitter & Google Play business community on LinkedIn.

Submissions now open: Indie games programs to help developers grow with Google Play

Posted by Leticia Lago, P&E Developer Marketing

Google Play Indie Games Festival and Accelerator 

At Google Play we’re committed to helping developers of all sizes reach their full potential, and go further, faster. Today we’re opening submissions for our two annual programs supporting the indie game community, as they bring some of the most innovative titles to players worldwide.

If you are an indie games developer, check out our Accelerator and Festival programs, where you have the chance to boost your game’s visibility, get training, and tap into our community of gaming experts.

These programs are designed to help you grow no matter what stage you are in:

  • If you are a small games studio looking for help to launch or grow a new title, enter the Accelerator to get exclusive training by mentors and industry experts;
  • Or, if you have already created and launched a high quality game that is ready for the spotlight, enter the Festival in selected European countries, Japan or South Korea. for a chance to win promotions and reach new players.

After being selected as a Festival finalist and participating in the Accelerator in 2021, Co-founder of Jimjum Studios, Nimrod Kimhi said "being in the Accelerator probably saved us two years worth of mistakes." Read below to learn more about the programs.

Submissions are open until July 1st.


Indie Games Programs 

Supercharge your growth with mentorship & live masterclasses

If you’re an indie developer who is early in your journey - either close to launching a new game or have recently launched a title - this high-impact program is designed for you.

With the help of our network of gaming experts, the Indie Games Accelerator provides education and mentorship to help you build, launch and grow successfully.

Selected game studios will be invited to take part in the 10-week acceleration program starting in September 2022. This is a highly-tailored program for small game developers from across 70+ eligible countries. It includes a series of online masterclasses, talks and gaming workshops, hosted by some of the best in the industry.

You’ll also get the chance to meet and connect with other passionate developers from around the world who are looking to take their games to the next level.

Apply to the Accelerator by July 1st.


Indie Games Accelerator 

Win promotions that put your indie game in the spotlight

If you have recently launched a new, high quality game on Google Play, enter your game to be showcased at the Indie Games Festival and win promotions.

Once again, we are hosting three international competitions for indie game developers from selected European countries, Japan or South Korea.


The Festival jury consists of both gaming experts and Googlers, who are charged with selecting creative indie games that are ready for the spotlight.

Top indie games will be featured during the online Festival finals, where you can get your game discovered by game industry experts and players worldwide. The winners will also get featured on Google Play, prizes and additional promotions such as campaigns worth 100,000 EUR.


Apply to the Festivals in Europe, Japan or South Korea by July 1st.

Indie games Festival 

All submissions must be completed by 1 July @ 1 pm CET and meet all eligibility requirements.

For more updates about all of our programs, resources and tools for indie game developers, follow us on Twitter @GooglePlayBiz and Google Play business community on LinkedIn.


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Google Play logo

Google for Games Developer Summit returns March 15

Posted by Greg Hartrell, Product Director, Games on Play/Android

Image with Google for Games castle, rocket, volcano, and racetrack

With over three billion players showing strong engagement worldwide, the games market continues to remain resilient and grow beyond expectations. As we look ahead this year, the influx of new and returning players creates a great opportunity for developers to scale their games businesses.

The Google for Games Developer Summit returns virtually on March 15, 2022 at 9AM Pacific. From mobile to cloud, learn about our new solutions for game developers that make it easier to build high-quality games and reach audiences around the world.

Join us for the keynote at 9AM Pacific followed by over 20 developer sessions on-demand. We’ll share deep-dives and updates on the Android Game Development Kit, Google Play Games beta on PC, Play Asset Delivery, Play Console, and more. The summit is open for all. Check out the full agenda today at g.co/gamedevsummit.

Recommended strategies and best practices for designing and developing games and stories on Google Assistant

Posted by Wally Brill and Jessica Dene Earley-Cha

Illustration of pink car collecting coins

Since we launched Interactive Canvas, and especially in the last year we have been helping developers create great storytelling and gaming experiences for Google Assistant on smart displays. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work. Building these kinds of interactive voice experiences is still a relatively new endeavor, and so we want to share what we've learned to help you build the next great gaming or storytelling experience for Assistant.

Here are three key things to keep in mind when you’re designing and developing interactive games and stories. These three were selected from a longer list of lessons learned (stay tuned to the end for the link for the 10+ lessons) because they are dependent on Action Builder/SDK functionality and can be slightly different for the traditional conversation design for voice only experiences.

1. Keep the Text-To-Speech (TTS) brief

Text-to-speech, or computer generated voice, has improved exponentially in the last few years, but it isn’t perfect. Through user testing, we’ve learned that users (especially kids) don’t like listening to long TTS messages. Of course, some content (like interactive stories) should not be reduced. However, for games, try to keep your script simple. Wherever possible, leverage the power of the visual medium and show, don’t tell. Consider providing a skip button on the screen so that users can read and move forward without waiting until the TTS is finished. In many cases the TTS and text on a screen won’t always need to mirror each other. For example the TTS may say "Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?" and the text on screen may simply say "What is the name of the big red dog?"

Implementation

You can provide different audio and screen-based prompts by using a simple response, which allows different verbiage in the speech and text sections of the response. With Actions Builder, you can do this using the node client library or in the JSON response. The following code samples show you how to implement the example discussed above:

candidates:
- first_simple:
variants:
- speech: Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?
text: What is the name of the big red dog?

Note: implementation in YAML for Actions Builder

app.handle('yourHandlerName', conv => {
conv.add(new Simple({
speech: 'Great job! Let\'s move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?',
text: 'What is the name of the big red dog?'
}));
});

Note: implementation with node client library

2. Consider both first-time and returning users

Frequent users don't need to hear the same instructions repeatedly. Optimize the experience for returning users. If it's a user's first time experience, try to explain the full context. If they revisit your action, acknowledge their return with a "Welcome back" message, and try to shorten (or taper) the instructions. If you noticed the user has returned more than 3 or 4 times, try to get to the point as quickly as possible.

An example of tapering:

  • Instructions to first time users: “Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?”
  • For a returning user: “Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?”
  • For a frequent user: “Are you ready to play?”

Implementation

You can check the lastSeenTime property in the User object of the HTTP request. The lastSeenTime property is a timestamp of the last interaction with this particular user. If this is the first time a user is interacting with your Action, this field will be omitted. Since it’s a timestamp, you can have different messages for a user who’s last interaction has been more than 3 months, 3 weeks or 3 days. Below is an example of having a default message that is tapered. If the lastSeenTime property is omitted, meaning that it's the first time the user is interacting with this Action, the message is updated with the longer message containing more details.

app.handle('greetingInstructions', conv => {
let message = 'Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?';
if (!conv.user.lastSeenTime) {
message = 'Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?';
}
conv.add(message);
});

Note: implementation with node client library

3. Support strongly recommended intents

There are some commonly used intents which really enhance the user experience by providing some basic commands to interact with your voice app. If your action doesn’t support these, users might get frustrated. These intents help create a basic structure to your voice user interface, and help users navigate your Action.

  • Exit / Quit

    Closes the action

  • Repeat / Say that again

    Makes it easy for users to hear immediately preceding content at any point

  • Play Again

    Gives users an opportunity to re-engage with their favorite experiences

  • Help

    Provides more detailed instructions for users who may be lost. Depending on the type of Action, this may need to be context specific. Defaults returning users to where they left off in game play after a Help message plays.

  • Pause, Resume

    Provides a visual indication that the game has been paused, and provides both visual and voice options to resume.

  • Skip

    Moves to the next decision point.

  • Home / Menu

    Moves to the home or main menu of an action. Having a visual affordance for this is a great idea. Without visual cues, it’s hard for users to know that they can navigate through voice even when it’s supported.

  • Go back

    Moves to the previous page in an interactive story.

Implementation

Actions Builder & Actions SDK support System Intents that cover a few of these use case which contain Google support training phrase:

  • Exit / Quit -> actions.intent.CANCEL This intent is matched when the user wants to exit your Actions during a conversation, such as a user saying, "I want to quit."
  • Repeat / Say that again -> actions.intent.REPEAT This intent is matched when a user asks the Action to repeat.

For the remaining intents, you can create User Intents and you have the option of making them Global (where they can be triggered at any Scene) or add them to a particular scene. Below are examples from a variety of projects to get you started:

So there you have it. Three suggestions to keep in mind for making amazing interactive games and story experiences that people will want to use over and over again. To check out the full list of our recommendations go to the Lessons Learned page.

Thanks for reading! To share your thoughts or questions, join us on Reddit at r/GoogleAssistantDev.

Follow @ActionsOnGoogle on Twitter for more of our team's updates, and tweet using #AoGDevs to share what you’re working on. Can’t wait to see what you build!

Recommended strategies and best practices for designing and developing games and stories on Google Assistant

Posted by Wally Brill and Jessica Dene Earley-Cha

Illustration of pink car collecting coins

Since we launched Interactive Canvas, and especially in the last year we have been helping developers create great storytelling and gaming experiences for Google Assistant on smart displays. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work. Building these kinds of interactive voice experiences is still a relatively new endeavor, and so we want to share what we've learned to help you build the next great gaming or storytelling experience for Assistant.

Here are three key things to keep in mind when you’re designing and developing interactive games and stories. These three were selected from a longer list of lessons learned (stay tuned to the end for the link for the 10+ lessons) because they are dependent on Action Builder/SDK functionality and can be slightly different for the traditional conversation design for voice only experiences.

1. Keep the Text-To-Speech (TTS) brief

Text-to-speech, or computer generated voice, has improved exponentially in the last few years, but it isn’t perfect. Through user testing, we’ve learned that users (especially kids) don’t like listening to long TTS messages. Of course, some content (like interactive stories) should not be reduced. However, for games, try to keep your script simple. Wherever possible, leverage the power of the visual medium and show, don’t tell. Consider providing a skip button on the screen so that users can read and move forward without waiting until the TTS is finished. In many cases the TTS and text on a screen won’t always need to mirror each other. For example the TTS may say "Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?" and the text on screen may simply say "What is the name of the big red dog?"

Implementation

You can provide different audio and screen-based prompts by using a simple response, which allows different verbiage in the speech and text sections of the response. With Actions Builder, you can do this using the node client library or in the JSON response. The following code samples show you how to implement the example discussed above:

candidates:
- first_simple:
variants:
- speech: Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?
text: What is the name of the big red dog?

Note: implementation in YAML for Actions Builder

app.handle('yourHandlerName', conv => {
conv.add(new Simple({
speech: 'Great job! Let\'s move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?',
text: 'What is the name of the big red dog?'
}));
});

Note: implementation with node client library

2. Consider both first-time and returning users

Frequent users don't need to hear the same instructions repeatedly. Optimize the experience for returning users. If it's a user's first time experience, try to explain the full context. If they revisit your action, acknowledge their return with a "Welcome back" message, and try to shorten (or taper) the instructions. If you noticed the user has returned more than 3 or 4 times, try to get to the point as quickly as possible.

An example of tapering:

  • Instructions to first time users: “Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?”
  • For a returning user: “Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?”
  • For a frequent user: “Are you ready to play?”

Implementation

You can check the lastSeenTime property in the User object of the HTTP request. The lastSeenTime property is a timestamp of the last interaction with this particular user. If this is the first time a user is interacting with your Action, this field will be omitted. Since it’s a timestamp, you can have different messages for a user who’s last interaction has been more than 3 months, 3 weeks or 3 days. Below is an example of having a default message that is tapered. If the lastSeenTime property is omitted, meaning that it's the first time the user is interacting with this Action, the message is updated with the longer message containing more details.

app.handle('greetingInstructions', conv => {
let message = 'Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?';
if (!conv.user.lastSeenTime) {
message = 'Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?';
}
conv.add(message);
});

Note: implementation with node client library

3. Support strongly recommended intents

There are some commonly used intents which really enhance the user experience by providing some basic commands to interact with your voice app. If your action doesn’t support these, users might get frustrated. These intents help create a basic structure to your voice user interface, and help users navigate your Action.

  • Exit / Quit

    Closes the action

  • Repeat / Say that again

    Makes it easy for users to hear immediately preceding content at any point

  • Play Again

    Gives users an opportunity to re-engage with their favorite experiences

  • Help

    Provides more detailed instructions for users who may be lost. Depending on the type of Action, this may need to be context specific. Defaults returning users to where they left off in game play after a Help message plays.

  • Pause, Resume

    Provides a visual indication that the game has been paused, and provides both visual and voice options to resume.

  • Skip

    Moves to the next decision point.

  • Home / Menu

    Moves to the home or main menu of an action. Having a visual affordance for this is a great idea. Without visual cues, it’s hard for users to know that they can navigate through voice even when it’s supported.

  • Go back

    Moves to the previous page in an interactive story.

Implementation

Actions Builder & Actions SDK support System Intents that cover a few of these use case which contain Google support training phrase:

  • Exit / Quit -> actions.intent.CANCEL This intent is matched when the user wants to exit your Actions during a conversation, such as a user saying, "I want to quit."
  • Repeat / Say that again -> actions.intent.REPEAT This intent is matched when a user asks the Action to repeat.

For the remaining intents, you can create User Intents and you have the option of making them Global (where they can be triggered at any Scene) or add them to a particular scene. Below are examples from a variety of projects to get you started:

So there you have it. Three suggestions to keep in mind for making amazing interactive games and story experiences that people will want to use over and over again. To check out the full list of our recommendations go to the Lessons Learned page.

Thanks for reading! To share your thoughts or questions, join us on Reddit at r/GoogleAssistantDev.

Follow @ActionsOnGoogle on Twitter for more of our team's updates, and tweet using #AoGDevs to share what you’re working on. Can’t wait to see what you build!

Recommended strategies and best practices for designing and developing games and stories on Google Assistant

Posted by Wally Brill and Jessica Dene Earley-Cha

Illustration of pink car collecting coins

Since we launched Interactive Canvas, and especially in the last year we have been helping developers create great storytelling and gaming experiences for Google Assistant on smart displays. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work. Building these kinds of interactive voice experiences is still a relatively new endeavor, and so we want to share what we've learned to help you build the next great gaming or storytelling experience for Assistant.

Here are three key things to keep in mind when you’re designing and developing interactive games and stories. These three were selected from a longer list of lessons learned (stay tuned to the end for the link for the 10+ lessons) because they are dependent on Action Builder/SDK functionality and can be slightly different for the traditional conversation design for voice only experiences.

1. Keep the Text-To-Speech (TTS) brief

Text-to-speech, or computer generated voice, has improved exponentially in the last few years, but it isn’t perfect. Through user testing, we’ve learned that users (especially kids) don’t like listening to long TTS messages. Of course, some content (like interactive stories) should not be reduced. However, for games, try to keep your script simple. Wherever possible, leverage the power of the visual medium and show, don’t tell. Consider providing a skip button on the screen so that users can read and move forward without waiting until the TTS is finished. In many cases the TTS and text on a screen won’t always need to mirror each other. For example the TTS may say "Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?" and the text on screen may simply say "What is the name of the big red dog?"

Implementation

You can provide different audio and screen-based prompts by using a simple response, which allows different verbiage in the speech and text sections of the response. With Actions Builder, you can do this using the node client library or in the JSON response. The following code samples show you how to implement the example discussed above:

candidates:
- first_simple:
variants:
- speech: Great job! Let's move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?
text: What is the name of the big red dog?

Note: implementation in YAML for Actions Builder

app.handle('yourHandlerName', conv => {
conv.add(new Simple({
speech: 'Great job! Let\'s move to the next question. What’s the name of the big red dog?',
text: 'What is the name of the big red dog?'
}));
});

Note: implementation with node client library

2. Consider both first-time and returning users

Frequent users don't need to hear the same instructions repeatedly. Optimize the experience for returning users. If it's a user's first time experience, try to explain the full context. If they revisit your action, acknowledge their return with a "Welcome back" message, and try to shorten (or taper) the instructions. If you noticed the user has returned more than 3 or 4 times, try to get to the point as quickly as possible.

An example of tapering:

  • Instructions to first time users: “Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?”
  • For a returning user: “Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?”
  • For a frequent user: “Are you ready to play?”

Implementation

You can check the lastSeenTime property in the User object of the HTTP request. The lastSeenTime property is a timestamp of the last interaction with this particular user. If this is the first time a user is interacting with your Action, this field will be omitted. Since it’s a timestamp, you can have different messages for a user who’s last interaction has been more than 3 months, 3 weeks or 3 days. Below is an example of having a default message that is tapered. If the lastSeenTime property is omitted, meaning that it's the first time the user is interacting with this Action, the message is updated with the longer message containing more details.

app.handle('greetingInstructions', conv => {
let message = 'Make up words from the jumbled letters. Ready?';
if (!conv.user.lastSeenTime) {
message = 'Just say words you can make from the letters provided. Are you ready to begin?';
}
conv.add(message);
});

Note: implementation with node client library

3. Support strongly recommended intents

There are some commonly used intents which really enhance the user experience by providing some basic commands to interact with your voice app. If your action doesn’t support these, users might get frustrated. These intents help create a basic structure to your voice user interface, and help users navigate your Action.

  • Exit / Quit

    Closes the action

  • Repeat / Say that again

    Makes it easy for users to hear immediately preceding content at any point

  • Play Again

    Gives users an opportunity to re-engage with their favorite experiences

  • Help

    Provides more detailed instructions for users who may be lost. Depending on the type of Action, this may need to be context specific. Defaults returning users to where they left off in game play after a Help message plays.

  • Pause, Resume

    Provides a visual indication that the game has been paused, and provides both visual and voice options to resume.

  • Skip

    Moves to the next decision point.

  • Home / Menu

    Moves to the home or main menu of an action. Having a visual affordance for this is a great idea. Without visual cues, it’s hard for users to know that they can navigate through voice even when it’s supported.

  • Go back

    Moves to the previous page in an interactive story.

Implementation

Actions Builder & Actions SDK support System Intents that cover a few of these use case which contain Google support training phrase:

  • Exit / Quit -> actions.intent.CANCEL This intent is matched when the user wants to exit your Actions during a conversation, such as a user saying, "I want to quit."
  • Repeat / Say that again -> actions.intent.REPEAT This intent is matched when a user asks the Action to repeat.

For the remaining intents, you can create User Intents and you have the option of making them Global (where they can be triggered at any Scene) or add them to a particular scene. Below are examples from a variety of projects to get you started:

So there you have it. Three suggestions to keep in mind for making amazing interactive games and story experiences that people will want to use over and over again. To check out the full list of our recommendations go to the Lessons Learned page.

Thanks for reading! To share your thoughts or questions, join us on Reddit at r/GoogleAssistantDev.

Follow @ActionsOnGoogle on Twitter for more of our team's updates, and tweet using #AoGDevs to share what you’re working on. Can’t wait to see what you build!

Celebrating the Developers Behind the Best Apps and Games of 2020

Posted by Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Business Development, Games & Applications

Today, we announced Google Play’s annual Best of 2020 awards, highlighting the year’s best apps, games and digital content. None of this would be possible without the developers that created the amazing content that made a profound impact on us in 2020, or should we say a Genshin Impact … From miHoYo Limited to Loona Inc, the makers behind your favorite apps and games were unafraid to experiment, challenge the status quo, and design incredible experiences we never thought possible.

Check out the full rundown of the developers behind the best apps and games of 2020 in the U.S. on Google Play:

Best App of 2020

Best Personal Growth Apps

Best Hidden Gem Apps

Best Everyday Essential Apps

Best Apps for Good

Best Apps for Fun

Best Game of 2020

Best Indie Games

Best Casual Games

Best Innovative Games

Best Competitive Games

Further tales from the leading edge and beyond: more Apps, Games, & Insights podcast episodes

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Global Marketing, Platforms & Ecosystems

Google Play image

We are launching the second series of the Apps, Games, & Insights podcast.

Over the summer, we teamed up with a new group of leading industry insiders and experts to bring you 8 new podcast episodes over the next couple of months. We are bringing you their exceptional business stories, experiences and discussion on some of the latest big questions in the apps and games industry.

We are joined again by your hosts—Tamzin Taylor, who heads up Apps & Games Business Development for Google Play in Western Europe, and Dirk Primbs, who leads the Ecosystem Developer Relations team in Europe— and you can find out who they have been cajoling and corralling in the new series, below.

In the first series, the guests covered topics ranging from responsible growth and building for the long term, through advice from mergers and acquisitions and venture capital experts, to hot topics such as privacy and accessibility.

Apps, Games, & Insights podcast series 2 brings you a similarly diverse range of insights, stories, and learnings, and without further ado, get a sneak peek as to what we have lined up...

We kickoff with Elliott Rayner, Head Of Product Marketing, and John Quintana, Head of Guided Learning Experiences, from Babbel the online language learning company. Here in episode 9 we talk about how the new normal is disrupting the delivery of all types of education. Elliott and John discuss how Babbel is transforming and adapting and has been "thinking big" about the future of education: ultimately can apps take the place of traditional classroom education?

Most of us are very aware how critical environmental change is, but how do we raise awareness to fight climate change through our businesses? In episode 10 we are joined by Jennifer Estaris, Games Director at SYBO Games and Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, Founder of Games for Good and formerly at Space Ape Games, to learn how others are changing the game. In the recent Green Game Jam, 11 game studios came together to find innovative and engaging ways to educate and empower players about climate change through games. Jennifer and Deborah discuss how they ensured that the ideas were more than just another collection of tips for better recycling, and then pulled together a jam to bring great minds together and actualise change.

We also explore how to be successful with 4x strategy games—turn-based and real-time strategy games where you build an empire—in episode 11. We’re joined by David Eckleberry, General Manager and Vice President at Scopely, and Howard Chen, Google Play Growth Consultant. We hear how Star Trek Fleet Command has successfully built it’s loyal player base and the stories that bring to life the learnings about player affinity, KPI growth, comparative analysis with other game genres, and more.

With literally thousands of languages to choose from, language learning apps are in a unique position to reflect humanity’s diversity. The team at Drops have taken this opportunity by incorporating several indigenous languages into their app portfolio. So, while supporting the usual suspects of popular languages, users of Drops can also learn Hawaiian, Maori (from New Zealand), and Innu (from Japan) among others. In episode 12, we talk with Drops CEO and Co-Founder, Daniel Farkas and Chief Customer Officer, Drew Banks about how they actively foster diversity and inclusion in their product and company.

Have you ever wondered what goes behind the scenes to help you order your favourite foods from delivery apps? Delivering a quality app is essential to the success of your business, in both acquiring and retaining users. In episode 13, we’re joined by Maria Neumayer, Staff Software Engineer, at food delivery service Deliveroo and Shobhit Chugh, Product Manager, Firebase to talk about the practical steps you can take to design quality into an app or game. Discover and rectify quality problems in testing and production and hear Maria’s insights into how Deliveroo has adapted to the new normal.

Mobile gaming offers developers of PC and console games a significant opportunity. By going mobile, game developers can expand their player base and drive retention by providing a platform for players to stay engaged while they’re on the move. Jen Donahoe, Marketing and Growth lead for TeamFight Tactics at Riot Games joins us in episode 14 to discuss the challenges and opportunities they had in taking their games mobile.

What makes retention so critical to the success of a business over other measures, and how do you optimize this strategy? We speak to Marcus Gners, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder at health and fitness app developer Lifesum to hear how about the models they use and how they approach habitual usage. In episode 15, alongside Marcus, we are joined by best-selling author of “Hooked” and “Indistractable,” Nir Eyal, to explore the behavior apps should foster to drive retention, and how to measure this effectively.

So as to not give the whole game away, we are keeping the details of our final episode under wraps, so keep an eye out for more details shortly.

The new episodes of the Apps, Games, & Insights podcast are sure to spark the interest of business and app or gaming enthusiasts, and developers, who want to get the inside scoop from industry experts on business strategies and their success stories, and how to create successful apps and games businesses in these rapidly changing times. We look forward to you joining us on this journey.

How to stay tuned in

To find out more about what’s coming, check out our Apps, Games, & Insights podcast homepage and find links to all the latest episodes.

Subscribe and listen to our first episode here, or on your favorite podcast platform including Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple, Libsyn, Pocket Casts and Overcast, Deezer, and iHeartRadio.

Keep an eye out on @GooglePlayDev and @AndroidDev on Twitter where we will be announcing the launch of the new episodes each week.

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Improve Your Game with Texture Compression Format Targeting

Posted by Yafit Becher, Product Manager & Dan Galpin, Developer Advocate

Play Asset Delivery downloads the best supported texture for the device

Google Play Asset Delivery allows you to publish an Android App Bundle to Google Play containing all the resources your game needs. It offers multiple delivery modes, auto-updates, compression, and delta patching, all hosted at no cost to you.

As of today, you can use Google Play Asset Delivery to include textures in multiple texture compression formats in your Android App Bundle and Google Play will automatically deliver the assets with the best supported texture compression format for each device. With Texture Compression Format Targeting, you can start using ASTC for devices that support it while falling back to ETC2/ETC1 to devices that don’t. The Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC) format offers advantages, such as improved rendering performance, faster load times, a smaller in-memory footprint, better battery life, and improved visual quality. You can even dramatically reduce your download size and on-device footprint by optimizing the tradeoff between size and quality.

Higher bandwidth version of much of this information

Android App Bundle will be the required publishing format for all new games and apps as of August 2021, which means that Google Play Asset Delivery will be required for new games that want Google Play to host more than 150MB of assets. Texture format targeting provides value even for smaller games due to the advantages of newer texture compression formats.

Texture compression

Texture compression is a form of lossy image compression that allows the GPU to render directly from the compressed texture using specialized silicon blocks, reducing the texture memory and memory bandwidth required to render the texture. As GPUs have gotten more advanced, more sophisticated texture compression formats have been developed, but not all GPUs can take advantage of them.

ASTC was released in 2012 to give developers more flexibility in trading compression size vs image quality. It compresses using fixed 128-bit block sizes, but allows for variable block footprints from 4x4 (8 bits per texel) to 12x12 (.89 bits per texel).

Texture compression format image  Texture compression format image Texture compression format image

Googleplex from Google Earth at 12x12 (.89 BPT), 6x5 (4.27 BPT), 4x4 (8 BPT)

This allows almost any type of texture to be used in compressed form, and allows for textures to occupy much less space in RAM — up to 36x less space compared to uncompressed 2D textures depending on quality. Smaller textures also take less time to load, making games start faster.

Memory bandwidth

Since the GPU needs to do fewer reads from texture memory in order to render the texture, the memory bandwidth required to render the scene is reduced, often substantially when texture caches are taken into account.

Texture compression formats in Android

The top compression formats in Android are ETC1, ETC2, and ASTC.

texture compression image

Top texture compression formats with device penetration as of September 2020

ETC1 is supported on practically all devices. It has no transparency support; games can use a second texture for the alpha component. It has quality issues with sharp transitions such as edges and text.

ETC2 is supported by all devices that support GLES3. It supports multiple transparency modes and improves quality compared to ETC1.

ASTC is a more recent format that's more flexible; it supports many different kinds of textures, allowing for just about any texture in your game to benefit from compression. In addition, it supports various block sizes with different associated compression ratios. Using this format is a good way to optimize the size, image quality, and performance of your game.

Asphalt Xtreme Gameloft image

When experimenting with ASTC on Asphalt Xtreme Gameloft found that they could reduce the size of their game by up to 30%

Using texture compression format targeting

Once you've implemented Google Play Asset Delivery in your game, adding texture format targeting is an incremental step. Inside your asset packs, make sure you have a directory that holds just your textures, such as [assetpackname]/textures. This directory will be used to hold default textures (probably in ETC1 or ETC2 format).

Then, create additional texture directories with a suffix representing the additional formats you wish to support.

[assetpackname]/textures#tcf_etc2
[assetpackname]/textures#tcf_astc

Finally, update your app build.gradle file to enable texture splits in asset packs:

// In the app build.gradle file:
android {
    ...
    bundle {
        texture {
            enableSplit true
        }
    }
}

Google Play strips off the texture suffixes so your game reads its assets from the default directory, regardless of what textures are delivered to the device.

If you're using Unity, our Play Asset Delivery plugin for Unity is ready to create app bundles with texture-targeted packs.

Texture compression format targeting is available now

We're committed to helping you serve your entire game through Play with customized dynamic delivery and features such as texture compression format targeting. Documentation at d.android.com will walk you through the integration process depending on the game engine you use, and we also have codelabs ready for both C/C++ and Unity games. We have more information on all of our game related developer resources at d.android.com/games and stay up to date with Google Play Asset Delivery and other game developer tools by signing up for the games quarterly newsletter.

11 Weeks of Android: Games, media, and 5G

Posted by Dan Galpin, Developer Advocate

Android

This blog post is part of a weekly series for #11WeeksOfAndroid. For each of the #11WeeksOfAndroid, we’re diving into key areas so you don’t miss anything. This week, we spotlighted games, media, and 5G; here’s a look at what you should know.

What's the buzz in Android 11?

  • You can now control media applications from a dedicated space within the notification area while enabling features such as playback resumption and seamless transfer.
  • New and updated 5g APIs help you unlock transformative new user experiences.
  • Adds new support for key game tools and technologies. On top of that foundation, we're building tools to both improve your game developer experience and help you better characterize the performance of your game, services to help you expand the reach of your game to more devices and new audiences, and new and improved features to support your games' go-to-market with Google Play.

Android 11 media

We covered how to take advantage of Android 11's new media controls by making sure your app is using MediaStyle with a valid MediaSession token. We showed how to support Media resumption by making your app discoverable with a MediaBrowserServiceCompat, using the EXTRA_RECENT hint to help with resuming content, and handling the onPlay and onGetRoot callbacks. Finally we showed you how to leverage the MediaRouter jetpack library to support seamless media transfer between devices. Check out the updated version of the UAMP sample which contains a reference implementation for media controls and playback resumption.

Android 11 and 5G

We covered some of the primary ways apps can benefit from 5g, including:

  • Turning indoor use cases into outdoor use cases
  • Turning photo-centric UX into video-centric or AR-centric UX
  • Prefetch helpfully to make your app even more responsive
  • Turn niche use cases into mainstream use cases, such as allowing streaming content everywhere

Android 11 adds new APIs and updates existing APIs to ensure you have all the tools you need to leverage the capabilities of 5G, such as an enhanced bandwidth estimation API, 5G detection capabilities, and a new meteredness flag from cellular carriers. The Android emulator now enables you to develop and test these APIs without needing a 5G device or network connection. All of this and more is available from our dedicated 5G page.

Catch up on what's happening with game development

We presented a special "11 Weeks" episode of The Android Game Developer Show providing an update on the tools, services, and technologies we're bringing to help you build, optimize, and distribute great games.

Check out d.android.com/games to learn about everything we've covered this week and more, and stay up to date by signing up for the games quarterly newsletter.

Android game development tooling

In Android Studio 4.1, we enhanced the System Trace view of the CPU Profiler and added the Native Memory Profiler, and both can now be launched standalone from Android Studio. The System Trace and Native Memory blog posts have more details on how to use them with your game or app.

You can sign up for developer previews of the Android Game Development Extension, and the Android GPU Inspector. The Android Game Development Extension helps with building multi-platform C/C++ games, while the GPU Inspector is used to profile and debug graphics. Stay tuned for the open beta of the Android GPU Inspector.

Reaching more devices and users with your game

We took a deep dive into the Android Performance Tuner, explaining annotations, quality levels, and fidelity parameters along with some best practices on how to use them. Once you've implemented that, we also covered how to use the new insights and analysis you'll get within Android Vitals.

We showed how Google Play Asset Delivery brings the benefits of app bundles to games with large asset sizes, flexible delivery modes, auto-updates, compression, and delta patching. Texture compression format targeting is coming very soon letting you tap into modern texture compression such as ASTC (now supported on over 50% of devices) allowing you to considerably cut your game size and in-memory footprint.

We published new codelabs to help you integrate Android Performance Tuner and Google Play Asset Delivery into your Unity or native C/C++ game.

We explained how we can help protect your game, players, and business by fighting monetization and distribution abuse.

Boost your games' go-to-market

We launched the open beta of Play Games Services - Friends to help you bootstrap and enhance your in-game friend networks while having your games surfaced in new clusters in the Play Games app.

We demonstrated the new release management experience in the Google Play Console beta and showed how it can help your testing and publishing workflow.

Day one auto-installs is a new Google Play feature that allows users to request the automatic installation of your game during pre-registration. Early experiments show a +20% increase in day 1 installs when using this feature. The new pre-registration menu in the beta Google Play Console makes it easier than ever to access this feature.

We showed how to optimize your store listing page to take advantage of the greatly improved games visual experience within Google Play, showcasing rich game graphics and engaging videos.

The new in-app review API lets you choose when to prompt users to write reviews from within your game, without heading back to the app details page. This API supports both public and private reviews for when your app is in beta.

Learning path

If you’re looking for an easy way to pick up the highlights of this week, check out the Games, media, and 5G pathway. A pathway is an ordered tutorial that allows users to complete a pre-defined module that culminates in a quiz. It includes videos and blog posts. A virtual badge is awarded to each user who passes the quiz. Test your knowledge of key takeaways about Android game development, media, and 5G to earn a limited edition badge.

Key takeaways

Thank you for tuning in and learning about the latest in Android game, media, and 5G development.

Seamless media transfer and media resumption

MediaRouter API (UAMP Sample)

5G

Bandwidth estimation API

5G Detection (Android Emulator)

Meteredness flag

Features found in Android Studio 4.1 (Beta Channel)

System Trace in Android Studio CPU Profiler

Android Studio Native Memory Profiler

Pre-release standalone tools

Android Game Development Extension

Android GPU Inspector.

Features in the Android Game SDK

Android Frame Pacing Library

Android Performance Tuner (C/C++ Codelab) (Unity Codelab)

Google Play features

Play Asset Delivery (C/C++ Codelab) (Unity Codelab)

In App Review API

App Licensing

SafetyNet Attestation

Pre-registration

Google Play Games Services

Play Games Services Friends Beta

You can find the entire playlist of #11WeeksOfAndroid video content here, and learn more about each week here. We’ll continue to spotlight new areas each week, so keep an eye out and follow us on Twitter and YouTube. Thanks so much for letting us be a part of this experience with you!