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Android gaming powered up by Google Play game services

Google's new Game Center-like service adds leaderboards, multiplayer and achievements, and works on other platforms too.

Google is powering up Android gaming with a bunch of cool new features, including leaderboards, easy multiplayer and achievement, collectively called Google Play game services.

Announced today at Google I/O, the software giant's developer conference, the new features will let Android game makers bake in the kind of social features iPhone gamers are used to with Game Center.

But it's not just about showing off your high scores and beating your friends while you're on the bus -- Google's cloud tech lets you save your game and pick up on any other device, even on a different platform, if the developer supports it.

So in theory you could play a level of Wimp: Who Stole My Pants? on your iPhone on the way home, then carry on exactly where you left off on your sofa with your Nexus 7.

But whereas the Big G is apparently being generous rolling out these features cross-platform, its multiplayer and leaderboard features are all locked to its social network Google+. To find multiplayer chums to play with, they have to be in your 'circles', G+'s cross between friends and followers.

"Using G+ Circles a game can have up to four simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together," says Google's Greg Hartrell, "with support for additional players coming soon.

"Several great Android games are already using these new game services, including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos," Hartrell adds.

Android has something of a reputation among developers for piracy, with Towelfight 2 devs Butterscotch Shenanigans the latest to complain that it's too easy for Android users to avoid paying for apps. 95 per cent of players on Android are using a pirated version, the devs told SlashGamer, compared to roughly 50 per cent on iPhone. Anything the platform can do to offer more value to legit purchases will surely be welcomed.

Will you be firing up some mobile multiplayer fun with your circle buddies? Let me know in the comments or on our well-connected Facebook page.