Game developers integrating with Google Play Games have seen a lot of improvements since the service was launched a year and a half ago at Google I/O 2013. There have been a lot of refinements to the experience for both players and developers, and new tools have made many of the tedious and time consuming chores much easier. Google has just launched a new Play Games Publishing API inspired by a similar interface that was added to the Play Store earlier this year. There is also a new Leaderboard feature that should help to prevent falsified scores. Finally, the Unity Plugin and C++ SDK have been updated to support more devices and add additional features.

Play Games Publishing API

The new publishing API allows developers to automate the submission of online details for their games, currently including achievement and leaderboard listings and their related graphical resources. One of the chief advantages of this interface is that it can streamline the process of adding localized (translated) names for achievements and leaderboards. For details on how to work with the new Publishing API, check out the developer documentation and sample Python script.

Tamper Protection

Google's other addition comes in the form of Tamper Protection for Leaderboards. This is meant to combat cheaters that use different methods to submit false scores, effectively making the Leaderboards fairly worthless for many games. Developers have long had the option to manually curate their Leaderboards, but at great expense to their time. Complaints about cheaters have been going on since the beginning, and certainly aren't limited to just Google Play Games or Android. The issue with cheating is so extensive and difficult to solve that we've considered an article for Android Police to explain and demonstrate the problem in greater detail.

The new Tamper Protection feature is enabled automatically for newly created leaderboards, and it can be turned on in the Play developer console for existing games. It uses a number of factors to detect and hide potentially dishonorable scores and players from view. This supplements the existing mechanism that allows developers to manually remove scores from the list. While automated moderation can't solve the problem of cheating entirely, it can at least help to prevent the most egregious cheats from ruining the system for everybody else.

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Unity Plugin and C++ SDK

The Unity plugin gained quite a few improvements with the latest version, particularly as it has been rewritten to target the cross-platform C++ SDK for better performance and faster adoption of new features. Perhaps the most important addition is support for the cloud save feature that so many users regularly demand from games. There are also updated samples for developers to check out when integrating with Play Games. iOS developers will see several improvements to the source code generator for Xcode. The C++ SDK has also been updated to give a better experience on larger iOS devices like the iPhone 6 Plus.

Refinements to the Play Games service have made it an attractive platform for developers of mobile games. Now that Google is taking steps to sideline cheaters and simplifying the process for localizing the public features, developers can spend less time managing the little details and stick to building better games.

Source: Android Developers Blog