If there’s one tradition that’s spread like wildfire in the games industry in the last ten years, it’s the concept of achievements, trophies, and the like. Being able to complete a game and unlock a special medal that rewards you for that action is one thing – having twenty achievements rewarding you for doing all sorts of things from playing the game on hard mode to finding every secret the game has to offer no only increases the longevity of a game for the player, but also means that people can form a community around completing a game to a 100% rating.
iOS offers this as a standard feature on its iOS games, via its Game Center feature. While it is up to the developer to actually integrate achievements for Game Center, their mere presence shows that Android still has something to reach for. Even Windows Phones have Xbox Live integration, and it proves that Apple have gone in the right direction – giving players a good reason to stick with an app and further their achievements within it.
It’s not all about having a series of shiny medals, either – Game Center is also host to the game’s leader board should the developer so wish. This goes beyond putting more time into iOS games than seeing your completion rating hit 100% – this is about beating your friends and going for the global high score, which is something Android doesn’t offer without developers having to force third-party leader board and achievement registration onto users, which isn’t that appealing.
Google has a serious arms race on its hands when it comes to beating iOS at offering the best mobile gaming platform, and it’s lagging behind considerably. Everyone’s iPhone can run Game Center from the word “go,” and its look and quick functionality means few issues and ease of use.
While neither Google nor Apple are particularly strong on the social media front, this easy connectivity between iOS gamers is a big advantage. A friends list, leader boards and achievements, not to mention a chosen username (so you’re not stuck with your account name) are all great features, with the auto-match enabling you to sort your friends by who’s most looking to play the game of your choice with others – while Google patiently hopes people will be satisfied with third-party workarounds. The search engine giant is taking a real risk, here. Check out the auto-match feature below:
One of the primary features of any modern achievement tracking system is a score – a number that tracks how many overall points you’ve earned through unlocking achievements. Xbox Live offers this feature, PlayStation Network offers a leveling system based on overall trophy collection, and of course, iOS has a score built into Game Center. Its centralized nature dominates Android’s third-party solution, because if ten iOS games offer points, they’ll all go count towards your Game Center total. If ten Android games offer the same, you may find those points split between multiple third-party systems.
While Android certainly has the numbers – given it’s the dominant operating system for the world’s supply of smartphones – its feature set isn’t matching up. For now, mobile gamer’s seeking good achievement and leader board integration and, honestly, a better app selection, are going to have to look to Apple for their solution, rather than Google.