Is Google about to unleash a new Android gaming infrastructure?

Credit: Source: PowerA

Today I want to talk about Android gaming again. Let's start with the Ouya, which began shipping to backers as part of a 'preview period' (that's what they call it anyway) on March 28th. As a backer, I'd love to give you my opinion of the console, but mine still hasn't shipped.

In fact, in an update sent to backers last Friday, Ouya's Julie Uhrman shared the grim news that they expect to have 100% of backer shipments out the door by, get this, May 25th! According to a graph accompanying the update, they're not even 20% of the way through the process yet. I'm feeling a little cranky about this since Ouya is supposed to hit store shelves on June 4th. But I guess this is my personal lesson about how Kickstarter is not a store. Someday I hope to offer my hands-on opinion of Ouya.

PowerA is now shipping their MOGA Pro gamepad for Android. This one is a full-sized controller and retails for $49.99. I bought the earlier MOGA Pocket Controller last fall for the same price and wasn't the least bit impressed with it. The hardware was OK and this new model looks even nicer, being full-sized and all. The problem was that you were locked into the MOGA ecosystem: you had to buy games through MOGA in order for them to work with the controller. There's a 3rd party app that tries to work around this; I haven't checked in with that in a while and maybe it's gotten better (the developer had been working on it for just a few days when I tried it so it was understandably rough) but I don't think you should need to turn to a 3rd party in order to get new hardware to work well.

Anyway, PowerA fooled me once with the MOGA Pocket, I'm not going to spend $50 so they can fool me twice. But if you're feeling brave, you might want to read the press release for the new product. If I was going to try another controller I'd probably give the Green Throttle guys a chance.

Wow, I'm whiny today. Let's talk about something more upbeat. Android Police has uncovered evidence suggesting that Google is readying some kind of gaming infrastructure along the lines of Apple's GameCenter.

They went sleuthing through the source of the MyGlass (the Google Glass companion app) apk and founds a Games directory that had all kinds of goodies in it. The article I linked to digs into it in great detail, but the quick version is that "Google Games" (an unofficial name for an unannounced service) should support both turn-based and real-time multiplayer, lobbies and in-game chat, leaderboards, achievements and of course some kind of friends list. Actually that sounds more like Xbox Live than GameCenter, doesn't it? I'm hoping this is a real product and not something experimental that should've been deleted.

Google I/O is about a month away (May 15-17) so hopefully if this gaming infrastructure is a real thing, we'll learn more about it then.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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