Online Scoreboards services for Android

UPDATED : Updated with google play game informations.

I have been working for some time on my first Android game, which is basically an endless vertical scroller. I obviously have an offline scoreboard where you can see your best scores. But I also want to integrate an online scoreboard to promote some competition in my game.

Unfortunately, since I am not on IOS, I do not have any obvious solution for this issue (HINT : GameCenter !). With Google Play Game now available, I’d consider it the default “go to” solution on Android. My two options are basically : implement something myself and deal with all the hassle of handling authentication, hosting scores etc…or pick an existing solution. Since I am interested in making games and not online leaderboard systems, I went with the later option :)

There are many web services providing online scoreboards on android, many of them are free to use and also provide other useful services such as handling IAPs (In App Purchases), social integration (twitter, facebook) etc..

But it has been quite tedious to find the one best suited to my needs. There is no central hub of information, each platforms specificities are often accessible only after setting up an account… So I decided to try them out :)

Non exhaustive list of services available  :

  • Google Play Game
  • Scoreoid
  • Swarm
  • ScoreLoop
  • ScoreNinja

There might be others available but to my knowledge, those are the main ones for android and should cover most use cases, let me know if I missed any.

I shall do a more detailed analysis of some of those after I try them out further:

Google Play Game

This is the service provided by google with the following features

  • Online leaderboards
  • Achievements
  • Synchronous multiplayer (there is no easy solution for asynchronous multiplayer, which is a shame)
  • Cloud saving

Pros :

  • Free
  • Cross platform (Android, IOS, Web)
  • You can customize your user experience or use the default UI

Cons :

  • Set up is not really simple but examples are available (you can see my tutorial here)
  • Integrated with google+, doesn’t work if your users are not google+ users (this can be considered a pro)
  • SDK must be included in your app

Scoreoid

Scoreoid is a web service that currently provide the following gaming features:

  1. Online leaderboards
  2. In game notifications.

It doesn’t require a SDK to include in your game and use the standard REST HTTP(s) protocol to handle all features

Pros :

  • Currently free with pro accounts in the working (with prices and quotas that SEEMS reasonable)
  • Truly cross platform (Desktop, mobile etc..)
  • Doesn’t require a SDK, which means one less library to include in your project
  • You can customize your user experience and user interface to truly meet your needs, since you implement everything yourself, using only the rest API to communicate to the servers

Cons :

  • The biggest strenght of Scoreoid is also its biggest weakness, since it doesn’t provide a SDK, you will have to implement all the screens/user Interface/services in your application yourself. Even for the simplest features (but many examples are available).

ScoreLoop

SDK based service that provide the following features :

  • Online leaderboards
  • Achievements system
  • Challenges (ability to sent a notification to one of your friend to challenge him to a game)
  • In app purchases
  • Social features
  • Cloud storage (save game progress to the cloud and access it from another device)

Pros :

  • Free (they take a cut of IAPs that goes through their service and user can buy “coins” to challenge each others). You are still free to use google in app purchase API without going through ScoreLoop if you want to.
  • Support multiple platforms: BlackBerry, IOS, Windows Phone, Android
  • UDPATED : It creates a default user for you if you have never used their service before, low entry barrier for new users (the “only” thing they have to do is accept the TOS)
  • Very extensive feature list

Cons :

  • Set up is not as simple as I would have hoped but examples are available
  • Online dashboard to handle Scoreloop feature and configure your application is quite overwhelming at first, and seems to be quite complex.
  • UPDATED : Customized leaderboard is not simple at all if you want to have modes, levels … Documentation on this subject is sub par.
  • SDK must be included in your app (~500kb for Android)

ScoreNinja

ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT android only online leaderboard system, it has no other feature, doesn’t require registration, the whole website is only one page with straightforward documentation and form to get your application’s key.

Pros :

  • Ultra lightweight, nothing to configure, the SDK takes 8kb
  • It literally takes no more than 5 minutes to set up
  • Handles game mode/difficulty levels

Cons :

  • Android only
  • Obviously limited in functionality
  • Only first ten scores are shown in boards and your position relative to them

Swarm

SDK based service that provide the following features :

  1. Online leaderboards
  2. Achievements system
  3. In app purchases
  4. Social features
  5. Cloud storage (save game progress to the cloud and access it from another device)

Seems quite similar to Scoreloop, minus cross platform support and challenges, seems easier to set up.

Pros :

  • Free (they take a cut of IAPs)
  • Extensive feature list

Cons :

  • Android only
  • SDK must be included in your app

As for myself and my game :

  • I tried Scoreoid but after setting up my score page (good example here) I figured it to be too much work to implement myself, I am rather looking for a quick solution. Should be useful for anyone who wants to have as much control as possible over their user experience and for any game that’s going to be released on both desktop and mobile.
  • I am now trying Scoreloop, setting it up is not so easy but the examples helps.
  • I have looked at the Swarm Documentation and it seems much more straightforward than Scoreloop so I might try that next.
  • ScoreNinja seems really good but I’d like to be able to extend my app to use more features later. It might be more suited to One Game Month challenges or game jams.

So which services are you using and why ?

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Online Scoreboards services for Android

  1. Very nice overview. Our experience and point of view is similar to yours. At the beginning we were just happy with ScoreNinja, while after some time we discovered that the service was not reliable. We thought that giving an error message to the user was not nice, so we started, as you did, trying one after the other the latest and greatest super bloated frameworks that the market offers to us. We tried Openfeint, Gree, Swarm, and now we are tempted to use the new one by Google, very similar to Swarm or just posting scores to Facebook.
    Our conclusion was that even giving error messages is better than some of those invasive frameworks, and that quick games whose use is bus-stop-oriented do not match well with complex applications trying to acquire information and personal data and requiring to register, filling the screen with things that we don’t need, etc, etc.
    I will have a look at scoreoid maybe, still being not happy about having to code my client side leaderboard. I think that there is still a lot of need for a non invasive service like ScoreNinja.
    fbx

    • Thanks for the nice words :) I am implementing Google Play Games Service right now on my new game and I will try to update this post once I’ve finished. As far as I can tell, it looks quite nice, feature wise, but it is quite complicated to set up at first.

      I think it has default leaderboards and achievements pages that you can use or customize, which is good, and it’s cross platform (except for multiplayer) :)

      Hopefully they’ll make it simpler to set up.

      Also I am not 100% sure if it’s available to everyone or only to Android 4.2 users.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s