Google Play game developers and players alike are getting a quartet of game-changing additions today: real-time multiplayer, leaderboards, cloud saves and achievements. And that's not all -- the latter three services will function cross-platform between Android, iOS and the web. The whole initiative is called -- unsurprisingly -- "Google Play Game Services," and it's available today in a smattering of games. Unlike Apple's Game Center application, what Google's offering is backend support for developers rather than a standalone application. Think of it more like OpenFeint than Game Center -- you can sign in using your Google+ login in-game, and that login will track your identity (including leaderboard scores, achievements and saves) across various games and devices.
Any developer launching a game on the Google Play store has access to game services, though Google isn't making it an obligation. "We won't make it a mandatory exercise, or have any certification process around it," Google lead product manager Greg Hartrell told us. "We create fantastic services that allow developers to create these great game experiences, and help promote their discovery, help retain their users and keep them engaged."