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Google doubles down on mobile games with new store Google Play Instant

New store aimed at improving discoverability lets users play games without downloading them first

With the number of Android users installing games having more than doubled in 2017, Google yesterday revealed Google Instant Play to help improve overall game discoverability across the Play Store.

The new and improved Google Play Instant was introduced during the Google Developer Day at GDC, and could present the first real challenger to Facebook Instant Games which recently left closed beta.

Google Play Instant allows users to try a game without having to download it first, streamlining the process of discoverability.

"With all the great games available on Google Play, we want to make discovery easier and remove friction during the install process," said Google Play Instant product manager Benjamin Frenkel in a developer blog.

"Installing and opening a game takes time and results in many players never getting to experience your game. We're thrilled to announce that instant apps is now available for games."

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Although still in closed beta, Google Play Instant is set to open up to more users later this year.

Currently only a handful of games are available on Instant, but the new platform features a number of improvements to support game developers. Changes include a higher APK size limit of 10mb, progressive download support for executable code and game assets, and support for NDK and game engines using existing tool chains.

Google is also working with Unity to add IDE support making it easy for developers to build instant apps.

Other new tools for developers include alterations to the Play Console. In addition to the alpha and beta testing tracks, Google has introduced a new internal track that will allow developers to quickly test and iterate on new games and features by putting it the hands of 100 testers.

Developers will now also have access to demo loops for the pre-launch report. The new feature allows developers to predefine a series of actions in a game and have this loop run on live devices in a test lab.

Google Play Instant is the latest in a spur of gaming tech innovations from Google. Last month at the Mobile World Congress, Google released version 1.0 of ARCore, allowing developers to publish AR apps and games to 100 million Android devices.

Last week, the internet giant also revealed Google Maps API that allows developers to build game worlds based on real-world map data.

Working in collaboration with Ubisoft, Google also launched Agones, an open source, dedicated game server hosting product built on Google Cloud Platform to support multiplayer games.

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Ivy Taylor avatar

Ivy Taylor


Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.