Google’s latest high-profile hire will work with game developers to make their trade faster and cheaper when working with the search giant. Mark DeLoura, the new “developer advocate”, is a consultant with experience at Nintendo, Ubisoft and other high-profile companies, as well as the author of Game Progamming Gems, a series of eight (soon nine) books.
Although DeLoura posted on his blog about being hired a couple days ago, there’s not much specific information about what he’ll be doing. He does mention a few Google products of interest: SketchUp and 3D Warehouse, both of which are design software that DeLoura implies Google has been quietly working hard on; O3D, an open-source API for 3D apps; and Android, the now-widespread mobile OS.
Android is certainly the most visible of those listed, and there’s plenty of evidence that Google could use a concerted push to get games onto the platform. As it stands today, Android still lags far behind the iPhone in terms of the number and quality of games offered, and top game developers like Ngmoco have yet to make a real push at Android development.
Unmentioned by DeLoura is Google’s Orkut social network and Open Social, which has helped other companies like MySpace launch their own platforms for social game development. It’s reasonable to assume that DeLoura will work on all of Google’s initiatives, though, and the company has expressed plenty of interest in social games in the past, including its Lively virtual environment, which it gave up on in 2008.
Strategically, this is also a great time for Google to reach out to game makers, especially in mobile. Apple has recently annoyed and angered a lot of developers in its attempts to make cross-platform development harder (or, for the less cynical, keep standards high). By reaching out at the right time, Google could come off as the good guy.
Not that looking good or bad is the key to getting the best games on any platform; overriding factors in that case is how many devices are in consumer’s hands, and how much money can be earned from a well-made game. But Google is at least moving in the right direction, and it wouldn’t surprise us to hear of some high-profile developers working with Android and Google’s other platforms soon.