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It has finally happened – the beta version of Google Play Games has become available in Ukraine, which means I can explore this new Android game emulator, compare it with other emulators, and share my impressions. Google Play Games is a special emulator from Google that allows you to run some Android games on a computer running the Windows OS. At the time of writing this review, users have access to only about 100 of the most popular and relevant games from the Play Store, and the client for Mac OS is not yet available. I had a chance to test the new emulator in several games and am ready to talk about its pros and cons.
No more blur!
Perhaps this is the main advantage of Google Play Games over competitors, including the notorious BlueStacks. When you run Android games on regular emulators (at least on my PC with Ryzen 7, RX 580, 16 Gb RAM DDR4), you always get a rough and slightly blurred image – the graphics are somehow a bit “torn”. For me, this factor has always been the most off-putting, which is why I have never (I emphasize) seriously played Android games on a computer. I only launched them to write a short guide for installation or something like that.
So, in games launched through Google Play Games, there is no blur by definition. The game runs in a standard Windows window (at least, it seemed so to me), and overall, it feels like a regular computer game.
Of course, the textures in the games do not increase in resolution and look like something from the 90s on a full HD monitor, but the creators of Google Play Games are in no way to blame for this.
The picture is clear, the performance is high (again, according to my subjective observations), the controls are convenient. Speaking of controls…
Unlike BlueStacks, where the player can finely tune control elements for absolutely any game, in Google Play Games the settings are predefined by the emulator developers and in the current version they can be edited not for all games. During the game, you can press Shift + Tab to go to the “View Game Controls” section and learn about the hotkeys that the developers have assigned for actions in the game. If the section is called “Remap Controls“, you will be able to reassign the hotkeys.
Even though the controls in Left to Survive seemed quite comfortable to me, I didn’t like that I couldn’t adjust them to my liking.
However, I was able to do this in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Infinite Magicraid, as it turned out, is controlled solely with the mouse, so I did not find any hotkeys assigned for this game. It is comforting that in the future all of this is likely to be greatly improved and refined.
What settings are there at all?
There are almost no settings in Google Play Games. You can enable fullscreen mode (F11), change the volume level and window size, reassign hotkeys for some games. All other settings are limited to profile settings (nickname, avatars, etc.).
The emulator doesn’t even have a language change option. To change the language in Google Play Games, you must change the language of Windows itself. I’ve combed through all possible sections of the program, so at the moment it seems this is the only way.
Pros and Cons of Google Play Games
I must note that this assessment is based on my experience at the time I gained access to use the emulator, and it may change in the future.
- Control customization is not available for all games
- Lack of search function
- Limited (about 100) available games
- Lack of direct language change feature
- Absence of any settings apart from sound volume
- Unclear whether it will be possible to run multiple windows of the same game
- Games run in a Windows window with a clear picture, like in a regular PC game
- Decent (although sometimes odd) controls
Which is better: Google Play Games or BlueStacks?
At the time of writing this review, the free emulator BlueStacks undoubtedly surpasses Google Play Games in almost everything. The only advantage of the Google product could be considered the clarity of the picture. However, I don’t know for sure how many users of other emulators experience problems with “blurry” graphics, so it’s impossible to assert definitively.
Is it worth using Google Play Games?
I think yes. I was quite comfortable playing both Infinite Magicraid and Left to Survive. I also tried Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and was generally pleased even with the standard controls. You should try Google Play Games and the functionality it offers for yourself. After all, the program is completely free and is already available in many countries around the world.