Google Play Games is officially going dark. Well, the latest update is making its dark theme accessible to everyone. But that's not the only thing this update brings, there are now app shortcuts and a new sorting feature for achievements coming soon. A teardown also shows the team is preparing to add Minesweeper to the built-in games repertoire. Oh, and we're heard from the dev team, and we've got a hunch they're having a good time.

What's New

Official Changelog:

  • Come to the dark side. Head over to Settings and flip the switch on our new dark theme.
  • Sort your achievements by rarity (bragging rights automatically included)
  • Short on time? Touch & hold the Play Games icon and get to your recent games lightning fast.

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • Built-in games now have animated icons

Dark Theme

We've known it was coming for a while, and now the dark theme is officially live in Google Play Games. According a few reports, it began appearing a few days before the latest version came out, so the switch was probably activated remotely around the same time as the update began rolling out.

To enable the dark theme, just open Settings from the overflow menu, then look for the Dark Theme toggle about halfway down the screen. If the switch isn't there, try force closing Play Games and relaunch it.

App shortcuts

Play Games now supports app shortcuts in the launcher, featuring your most recently played and installed games.

If your launcher supports it, you can drag the shortcuts out to turn them into their own launcher icons. That might sound a little redundant since you could just add the game icons directly to your launcher, but this does also give you the option to add the built-in games like Snake and Cricket to your home screen.

Either way, this does offer some potential for keeping your home screen less cluttered while still having relatively quick access to more things.

Sort your achievements by rarity

Back in September, Play Games began showing rarities on achievements so players have a sense of just how many, or how few players have been able to cross some of those finish lines. According to the official changelog, it's now possible to sort the list of achievements based on rarity.

I'm not sure if I've missed that functionality, but it doesn't actually seem to be available to me in the app yet. Perhaps this will be activated remotely, or maybe it's part of an update that hasn't been released to the public yet, or maybe everybody else has it but me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Whatever the explanation, we'll surely see this pretty soon.

Animated icons for built-in games

The built-in games now have a bit more character to them. When you scroll through the carousel to one of Google's own games, they'll begin animating in cute ways. Each has its own twist, and they're adorable enough to be worth watching more than once.

I know this isn't exactly the most highly trafficked way to launch games, but now I kinda want to see a way for third-party games to add their own animations. Admit it, the Monument Valley icon animated in this style would be nothing short of amazing.


Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Upcoming game: Minesweeper

At some point during most of our lives, we've been stuck at a Windows computer with nothing to do besides play Solitaire or Minesweeper. The dev team behind Play Games is well aware of this, and as part of a redesign, also added Solitaire along with two other classic mini-games at the end of last year. Now they're going back to tackle the venerable Minesweeper.

<string name="game_info_minesweeper_name">Minesweeper</string>

You can see a banner and launch icon above, but there's not really much to see beyond that. Minesweeper doesn't appear to be live yet, at least not for me, but I can't say for sure that it won't be turned on remotely at almost any time.

Family Link controls

I'm not actually sure if this one is new, but a few new lines were added that point parents to Google Family Link for configuring how accessible their children's gaming accounts are. They can control if other players are allowed to see game activity or if other players can search for a Gamer ID based on name or email address.

<string name="games_profile_edit_supervised_summary">Parents can edit this in Family Link</string>
<string name="games_profile_edit_visibility_supervised">Allow other players to see your game activity. Parents can edit this in Family Link</string>
<string name="games_gcore_profile_discoverability_summary_supervised">Allow other players to find your Gamer ID using your name or email address. Parents can edit this in Family Link</string>

If you're a parent and haven't thought this through and set things up the way you'd like them, this seems like a good time. :)

Devs confirm, having fun!

Google's developers know what's up, and they know there's room to play. I mean, this is the Play Games team, how crazy would it be if they didn't take some time to enjoy their work.

If there were any doubts, set them to rest. Somebody inside the team is letting us know that they're having fun while they work.

<string name="games__eastereggs__teardown__hello">┴┬┴┤( ͡° ͜ʖ├┬┴┬</string>
<string name="games__eastereggs__teardown__pointless_side_project">Yes, we are having a lot of fun.</string>

These lines are labeled as easter eggs, and one even shows there's a "pointless side project," so there may actually be more hidden away. I've only had time to give a cursory look, but I don't see any signs that the code referencing these strings is actually used — which might mean it's just there to prevent build optimization from removing them from the final APK.

Whether there's something else there to be seen or not, I'm always happy to see fellow devs having a good time. And as always, thanks for keeping in touch! ヽ(͡◕ ͜ʖ ͡◕)ノ


The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Google Play Games
Google Play Games
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free