For years, video game companies didn’t seem to grasp what to do with network-connected gaming. Until Microsoft came up with Xbox Live for the original Xbox, you could dismiss online gaming as a fad; who even bothered hooking up their Dreamcast to the internet? Microsoft opened a Pandora’s box of leaderboxes, matchmaking, and achievements. Fast-forward to the smartphones of today, and Microsoft has clearly embraced network-connected gaming with WP7, but what about Android? Rumor has it that Google is working on an Xbox Live-like program of its own.
Like XBL or Apple’s Game Center, this Google approach would add a social aspect to Android gaming, letting users recruit friends from online forums, game together, and check out each others’ stats. Supposedly, the service would include integrated messaging, game-specific forums, and of course achievements.
Sure, there are app-based solutions that give Android some of this functionality already, but giving this kind of system some tighter integration with Android, especially with Google backing it, should help grow out the user base, making its features that much more useful.
This basic description of the service was provided to PocketGamer by one of its sources, who says the system won’t be ready to go live until the very end of this year at the soonest, with sometime in early 2012 more likely.