According to a new Google support page, the search giant is shutting now several of its Play Games multiplayer APIs.
Google began offering the APIs several years ago for mobile game developers using the Play Games Services. These APIs helped developers build out multiplayer features of their games.
Now, two of these APIs, the real-time and turn-based multiplayer services, will shut down on March 31st, 2020. Starting September 17th, 2019, developers will no longer be able to add Play Games Services’ real-time or turn-based multiplayer to new apps.
Existing apps using the APIs will continue to work until March 31st. That gives developers a little over six months to switch over to new multiplayer services.
Unfortunately, Play Games Services had the distinct advantage that it was included with the Google Play developer account fees. Firebase, at least, offers a generous free tier while Open Match is open source and allows developers to choose their own cloud provider. Either way, the change could mean extra work and extra expense for developers.
Google’s other Play Games Services, like achievements, leaderboards and cloud saves, will not be affected by the shut down of multiplayer APIs.