First, Microsoft and Amazon conspired to build Android on Windows, and now Google is making its own claim. Starting today, select US Windows users can try out a beta version of Google Play Games on their desktop.
As of this writing, there are just over 60 games available on the Windows Play Games store, from one location in the United States. All of them are free downloads as they are the kind of games that make money on in-app purchases. It’s a mix of games that look or sound like better known games, casual building/designing games, gacha bait, then Genshin Impact. The selection is likely to expand, but the nature of Android’s free-to-play environment isn’t expected to change anytime soon.
If any of these games have you hooked before, you can sync your progress, achievements, friends, and other Google Play stats between your phone and Windows.
I don’t have a Play game in my recent list, so I chose Zombeast: Zombie Shooter from the library and set it up for a test drive. The game is what it says on the label; you plod through linear paths, occasionally moving left and right, clicking to fire when your auto-target lands on the right zombie or oddly placed gas can.
Knowing that I was playing on Windows, zombeast loaded with a tutorial for keyboard commands. Everything worked as expected and the game ran responsively. But it’s shocking to play a shooter, even an on-rails shooter like this, on a PC and be so limited. You can’t look with the mouse, you can barely move in any direction except forward, and you only use the primary mouse button. I played a few levels, was told I would get a free golden revolver upgrade which would otherwise cost $1.99, and then I jumped.
I wrote that Play Games was available for “some” users, because not all systems can access Google Play on Windows. You will need Windows 10 or 11, an SSD with 10 GB of space, at least an Intel UHD Graphics 630 or comparable graphics card, a processor with at least four cores, 8 GB of RAM and a Windows administrator account. You will also need to enable hardware virtualization in your BIOS settings and allow Google Play to enable specific Windows hypervisor settings.
It’s an interesting time for Google to launch a US beta version of its Play Store for Windows. Microsoft recently launched a similar limited trial of Amazon Appstore apps that use its Android subsystem for Windows, built on top of the subsystem for Linux. Amazon’s Appstore isn’t licensed by Google and doesn’t have the same APIs an Android device would offer, though Amazon and Microsoft can probably replicate some, if not most. Meanwhile, Google offers this app fully integrated and synchronized, starting with a limited number of games with good desktop support (maybe Chromebook).
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