Google Play Games App Brings Android Gaming To Windows, What You Need To Know

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Did you watch The Game Awards last night? If you did, then you probably already know this, but if not, here's the deal: Google is bringing its Play Games app to Windows PCs next year. That essentially means you'll have one more PC gaming store to look at, on top of Steam, GOG, Origin, UPlay, Bethesda, Rockstar, Acti-Blizzard, Epic, and Microsoft's own Windows Store.

It's common for PC gamers to pooh-pooh mobile gaming, and reasonably so. Far from being simply a "graphics over gameplay" argument, the proper case against mobile games is one of abusive monetization, egregious shovelware, and shallow games that simply lack the depth of content (especially in gameplay, specifically) compared to your "core" PC-native or console games.

Still, mobile games raked in $10.73 billion in the US alone last year, so there must be some merit to them. Indeed, mobile games enjoyers have various reasons for doing so, but the most common praises for the medium are that the games are easy to pick up and play and usually free to get started. While they may not sport advanced 3D presentation or ray-tracing effects, many mobile games have a greater focus on the aesthetic and visual design compared to PC and console games, lending a more-pleasing visual presentation.
So saying, there are plenty of reasons for players to be excited about Google's announcement last night. A small-but-significant proportion of the players on some of the top mobile games are doing so using PC-based phone emulators. These emulators can be buggy, lacking in certain features, or ridden with malware, and overall it is usually not a great experience compared to playing on a real phone.

The Google Play Games application for Windows will be a PC-native store that includes both emulated Android games as well as native Windows PC games. Google also promises seamless experiences that allow players to go from mobile to desktop and back. Interestingly, according to 9to5Google, it seems that Google Play Games won't rely on Windows' built-in Android app support, but instead its own compatibility layer that also works on Windows 10.

Interestingly, The Verge reports that this is actually just the first step along a road internally called "Games Future" at Google. It seems that Google has some broader ambitions for the Android ecosystem, and it intends to use the games market as the stepping stone along those plans. Google Play Games already offers many of the same behind-the-scenes services that Steam does (for example), but it seems that eventually Google wants to host cloud services for game developers and publishers, as well as early access and crowdfunding solutions.

All of that's further down the road, though; in the short-term, we have the Google Play Games app on Windows to look forward to. Google says it will be distributing the app itself sometime next year.