Google has recently been pushing its Universal App Campaigns to developers, a tool aimed primarily at marketers – it’s a way to spread adverts across lots of different properties with minimal effort. For the average person, that isn’t very interesting. However, a new plugin for the platform – Google Playables – is. Letting users preview a game before downloading it, Playables aims to end the curse of the rubbish game.
It doesn’t matter how pretty and relevant to a person’s tastes a game looks on the Play Store, Steam, or anywhere else, the reality of playing it can very well be a disappointment. Playables are interactive adverts (not unlike some Google Doodles we’ve seen in recent years) which allow Android gamers to play a short demo of an app before committing. The slightly awkward thing is that Playables can be displayed in-game like any other advert, creating a game within a game – or a stern test of our multitasking abilities.
Multitasking and Live Dealers
It’s not quite as odd as it sounds – while Playables are a sad lament for our attention span, there’s definitely a push towards more involved gaming experiences on mobile, especially in the casino/iGaming industry. For example, the appearance of dealers in live roulette games has created a scenario in which players end up to manage bets and while chatting with a real person who serves as the croupier in real time. The croupier speaks to the player, who then can respond by typing in a chat window and/or clicking the appropriate buttons. It’s a very realistic experience and this multitasking effect comes quite easily, which constitutes indication that we’re quite used to multitasking while playing already: we chat with the croupier all while thinking about our own betting strategies.
Live gaming is one of the major growth areas in casino – and not just at bgo. A brand like LeoVegas attributes the popularity of the experience to a recent surge in profits over the previous twelve months so it’s perhaps no surprise that iGaming sites throughout the industry are bolstering their live offering to take advantage of its appeal. For example, Irish casino BetRight already has eight blackjack rooms with private dealers, including one exclusive to the site.
Who Remembers Demos?
Similar to Android Instant Apps, an initiative that lets users use specific parts of software without requiring the full download. The example given by Google is sharing and viewing a recipe – spatchcocked chicken, whatever that is – in a Buzzfeed Video app. Playables could potentially fill the void left by demos, something that disappeared almost entirely with the advent of digital streaming services like Origin.
Playables are exclusive to games at present and, much like the rest of Google’s Universal App Campaigns, are aimed at creatives working with the company rather than users – it’s a sales tool first and a discovery medium second. As a type of demo though, the results could be potentially catastrophic; Kotaku notes that giving the player a chance to play a game before purchase can kill as much as fifty percent of sales. But is that not good for the end user, we wonder?
The latter statistic owes a great deal to the role of demos as a form of quality control – if a game is broken or not very good, the player gets the opportunity to avoid it – so, on a platform bloated with boring clones and shovelware, Playables could serve as a gatekeeper, funneling players towards better quality titles. It’s perhaps a little ironic that one of the few publishers still invested in demos is EA, the brand behind 2013’s disastrous SimCity launch.
Google’s newest toy is a novel idea but Playables are nevertheless a reminder of the sometimes overwhelming nature of advertising; “games in ads in games” is just as hard to say as it is to envision.