Google Play store update to help you find gaming's hidden gems

Players should find better, more engaging games rather than popular titles with a revamp in the works for Google's app store service.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read

Google is revamping its Play store for players to find hidden gems.


Google Play is getting a power-up for its games.

Google's app store service is revamping how it looks at games while adding new tools for developers to earn more and analyze its performance, the company announced on Monday during its Developer Day event.

Gaming on devices powered by Google's Android mobile software boomed internationally in 2016, with the help of Pokemon Go and Clash Royale. Last year, up to 300 million new users on Android played games in countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia. Google is looking to put the spotlight on hidden gems with its latest update, expected to arrive soon.

When people head to Google Play, the games will be organized by engagement instead of downloads, meaning that less-popular games could have their time to shine.

"There are many instances when great games don't get the visibility and attention they deserve," Paul Bankhead, Google Play's director of product management said in a statement. "We've begun tuning our algorithms to optimize for user engagements, not just downloads."

Google Play will now be looking at a game's star rating, along with how often players come back to the game and how often it's played to decide how it should be promoted. It will also be launching new editorial pages for games in February, with editors highlighting high-quality games.

Game developers will also be able to adjust their own prices and run promotions on their own starting Monday through the Google Play Developer Console. When Google tested out the feature, developers saw up to 20 times more downloads during the deals.

The company is hosting a series of lightning talks on Monday with a focus on virtual reality and augmented reality. Google's Daydream View VR headset is an emerging platform for VR games through the Play store.

The Nougat update for Android improved graphics for mobile games, and Google is showing it off with three new games it previewed at Developer Day, including:

  • Transformers: Forged to Fight, a fighting game featuring the Autobots and Decepticons, which will be available on April 5.
  • Battle Breakers, a board game styled RPG from Epic Games powered by Unreal Engine 4, where you build a team of heroes to battle monsters.
  • Injustice 2, the sequel to NetherRealm Studios' superhero fighting game where DC Comics characters battle it out.

For the Google Daydream:

  • Virtual Rabbids, a light-hearted VR game by Ubisoft where you play around with Rabbids.
  • Beartopia, a co-op VR game where you live in a village as cute, square bears to grow a community.

It's Complicated: This is dating in the age of apps. Having fun yet? These stories get to the heart of the matter.
Batteries Not Included: The CNET team reminds us why tech is cool.