Google is planning to bring Android games to Windows PCs next year. A Google Play Games app will be available in 2022, built by Google to allow games from Google Play to run on Windows laptops, tablets, and PCs.
“Starting in 2022, players will be able to experience their favorite Google Play games on more devices: seamlessly switching between a phone, tablet, Chromebook, and soon, Windows PCs,” says Greg Hartrell, Google’s product director of games on Android and Google Play, in a statement to The Verge. “This Google built product brings the best of Google Play Games to more laptops and desktops, and we are thrilled to expand our platform for players to enjoy their favorite Android games even more.”
Google spokesperson Alex Garcia-Kummert tells The Verge that the company has built this app on its own, which means Google hasn’t partnered with Microsoft, BlueStacks, or others here. The upcoming app will also allow players to resume games on a desktop PC, after playing them on a phone, tablet, or Chromebook.
For now, Google is simply teasing the app during The Game Awards tonight, with a promised release window of sometime next year. It’s not yet clear what technology Google is using to emulate Android apps on Windows, but games will run locally instead of streaming from the cloud.
“This will be a native Windows app distributed by Google, which will support Windows 10 and up,” explains Hartrell. “It will not involve game streaming.” Google’s app won’t rely on any special integration with Windows 11, and the company will also distribute the app itself.
Google’s announcement comes months after Microsoft started testing Android apps on Windows 11 PCs. Microsoft has built an underlying Windows Subsystem for Android, which is capable of running Android apps from a variety of sources. The software giant has partnered with Amazon to let Windows users natively install games and apps from the Amazon Appstore, but native Google Play support won’t be available officially through Microsoft’s feature.
Since Microsoft is only officially partnered with Amazon for that feature, it has meant far fewer Android games and apps available for Windows 11 users to easily install than there might otherwise be. The door is open for Google, BlueStacks, and others to fill that hole.
While Microsoft, and now Google, work on bringing Android apps and games to Windows, BlueStacks has gone a step further and is now bringing Android games to web browsers. BlueStacks X is a free way to play Android games in your browser, and BlueStacks has been focused on Android gaming on Windows since it became the predominant use case for its main app in 2016.
Details on Google’s plans for Android apps on Windows first appeared in a document from the Epic v. Apple trial earlier this year. Dated October 2020, the 70-page document described an ambitious effort to get Android games on Macs and Windows PCs. The document revealed Google would first bring “emulated, native and streamed games” to Windows, and at least part of that effort is starting in 2022.