One fact that you cannot disagree on is that game developers took iOS a whole lot more seriously the moment Game Center was announced for that platform. Conversely, it also cannot be argued that Android badly needs a Game Center-equivalent to take gaming on Android in general up one notch.
The benefits of a unified gaming hub on Android a la the iOS Game Center is aplenty. Game progress can be saved through the cloud, achievements can be recorded, leaderboards can be viewed and online multiplayer can be hosted through the server. Also, gamers will be able to register for a username, allowing them to add friends and chat with them, as well as send them requests to play games online. All this will be done under one roof, so to speak.
Yes, some of these features already exist today on Android. Services such as OpenFeint provide us with achievements and leaderboards. Some games like Dead Trigger have implemented their own cloud save mechanism. Many of the bigger game developers like Gameloft have also successfully implemented online multiplayer in their games.
But as things stand, it is all very messy. How many different online leaderboard services are there now on Android, for example? Also, implementing a cloud save feature and hosting online multiplayer games can be costly and ultimately prove to be overwhelming for most of the smaller developers. Gamers on the other hand have a tough time remembering countless amounts of usernames and passwords for each different service they sign up for.
However, creating a unified gaming hub is no easy task. Unlike iOS, Android is a lot more open. Games can be installed from 3rd-party app stores, such as Amazon AppStore or Samsung Apps, and can be bought from game bundles like Humble Bundle for Android. So Google will have to decide whether to allow games installed from any source to utilize the ‘game center’ (this then brings forth the issue of pirated apps being able to use the feature), or strictly limit it to games purchased from good ‘ol Google Play.
I am sure that something along the lines of a unified gaming hub has been in the works for some time now at Google, but the question is when will it arrive? The grapevine has it that this will come together with Key Lime Pie (the rumored name of the next iteration of Android). Google better act fast though, because developers are still looking at Android as an after-though. With this feature, developers are sure to take notice and Android will be looked as a more mature gaming platform.
What do you have to say about a unified gaming hub on Android? Has it been a long time coming? What other benefits (besides those highlighted above) do you think it will be able to offer to Android gamers? Sound off your thoughts in the comments section below!