Google Play is an integral part of an Android gamer’s life, as one would most probably purchase games from there. Yes, there are alternatives such as the Amazon Appstore, but Google Play is the default choice in this respect. As such, it is important that Google Play is set-up in such a way that it can further augment a gamer’s experience while browsing for new games. Here’s 5 changes we hope Google would see fit to implement in the near future.
In-app purchase indicator
In-app purchases are here to stay, full-stop, irrespective of whether you like it or not. Anyway, we’re not going to argue over IAPs in general. But you know what would be good? If there was some kind of indicator on Google Play to show that an app or game contains IAPs. Maybe, it could have a green dot if there is a one-time purchase IAPs to unlock a full game for example, and a blue dot to signify consumable IAPs.
Or they could follow in the footsteps of the iTunes Appstore and list down all the IAPs and their corresponding prices. This is only so that gamers can know before downloading a game – especially if it’s paid – that it contains IAPs. For free ones, at least then gamers can know if it follows the freemium model or merely a demo. This is a small but integral change that Google can make as I am sure we all would like to whether a game has IAPs or not (and the nature of it) before we download them.
More categories and introduce sub-categories
Currently, there are actually only six real categories (or genres, rather) for games on Google Play – arcade & action, brain & puzzle, cards & casino, casual, racing and sports games. I have no idea why another two – live wallpaper and widgets – are categorized under games. In any case, six is just too little, considering there are hundreds of new games every week. Plus, there’s a category for casual games, which is extremely vague.
What Google needs to do is introduce a few more vital categories, such as platformers, runners, RPG, strategy and word among others. And if possible, they should take it to the next level and introduce sub-categories as well. Under strategy for example, it can be broken down into real-time, turn-based, tower defense and board. Google should then allow developers to list their games under one main category, and a further two (or three) sub-categories. This will ultimately benefit gamers as they can then keep track of games in their favorite genres.
Bring back the ‘Just In’ section
It appears to be that at some point before I hopped onto the Android bandwagon, there used to be a ‘Just In’ section on Google Play…oops, Android Market as it was known back then. And then Google removed it. I reckon Google should bring this section back simply because there is actually no way at all at the moment to gauge new game releases in real-time. Even we have a hard time tracking down new game releases.
Now, if you have a good game but you’re not a renowned developer, there is a fair bit of chance your game could languish with zero downloads as there’s simply no way someone gets to know about your game if you don’t promote it. But with ‘Just In’, there’s a chance someone sees your game, plays it, likes it, shares it and then your game becomes a viral hit. It is good for gamers too as from time to time, they can check out what’s cooking in the ‘Just In’ section.
Better sorting abilities
Google Play is really primitive (and I emphasizeits primitiveness) in the sense that you have got absolutely no way of sorting games and apps that you search for on Google Play on your Android device. On the web version you can at least sort by popularity or relevance, and further narrow down to free or paid. But this is still not good enough. What we need is the ability to sort apps and games by date added, and by more criteria which should be adjustable by the user such as price, size and genre.
Coming back to the version of Google Play on Android devices, it baffles me that there are no sorting abilities. All that I have suggested for the web version above should make it to the Android app as well. Other sorting features that they could implement are on the individual developer’s pages. I want to be able to see Gameloft’s or Noodlecake’s newest games amid the plethora they have to offer, but I can’t do so currently. Game discoverability is pathetic as it stands on Google play and it hurts smaller developers. Having better sorting abilities will alleviate some of this.
Ability to gift games to friends and Promo codes
Ok, so I just played a great game, and want my friend to try it out too. If I tell him to purchase it, chances are he won’t be really bothered. But what if I could instead just gift it to him? Then he’d have no choice but to play it, and we could discuss about it in days to come. The ability to gift games if a win-win situation for all three parties as those who like a game enough might gift it to those closest to them – Google makes more money, developers get to feed themselves and gamers get unexpected game downloads from friends!
Also, the ability to gift games will lead to a lot of impulse purchases, especially for multiplayer games. Say there are four people in a room. One has Asphalt 7, the other three don’t. The one that has it wants to play a multiplayer race – all he has to do is splash out $2.97 and his three friends will get the game, and they can have a fun multiplayer session after that. Also, gifting games directly is better than sending gift codes, and those that don’t have a payment option enabled can get good games directly from their friends.
It is far-fetched for Google to implement all 5 of the suggestions above, but even if they could incorporate two or three in the near future it will be good for the Android gaming community.
Better sorting abilities is a must, as well, we are talking about Google here, the mother of search! IAP indicators would be both welcomed with open arms and helpful to gamers, as would more detailed categories and sub-categories even. The reintroduction of the ‘Just In’ section will bring much needed visibility to indie game developers especially, and finally the ability to gift games would probably make multiplayer-enabled games prosper.
Anyway, that’s what we think. What about you? What changes do you think Google can introduce to Google Play to enhance the experience of gamers as they browse and look for new games? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!