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There are a million things more fun than starting at the beginning

Let me tell you about Knights of Pen and Paper, my favorite Android game ever. It has bards and necromancers and magic swords and barbarians and all sorts of awesome things that everyone wants in a computer fantasy role-playing game. You start small and weak, and work your way through monsters and pirates and treachery, and one day you're powerful and have all this great loot. Ready to go after the tough monsters and packs of things that would have wasted you a dozen or so levels ago.

And then, you switch phones and lose all of it. Back to the beginning for you.

You see, the developers of KoPaP aren't using one of the best features available for Android Games that anyone could have imagined — Google cloud save. That's the magic that goes on behind the scenes so you can pick up any Android that you're signed into, and play just where you left off on any other Android you're signed into. It's also going to start becoming a factor in my future game purchases, I think.

Games Services

First introduced back at Google I/O 2013 cloud save is part of Google Play Game Services. Other parts allow you to have saved achievements, or things like leaderboards. As a package, it's really awesome. It gets less awesome when developers don't add in the cloud save. A lot less awesome.

"Easy" often means something different to Google

I'm sure it's not as easy as checking some box that says "click me to enable cloud save" when the app is getting built. Google may offer the service, but there's probably a good bit of work to figure out what data to save to the cloud, what data to retrieve, and how to turn it from ones and zeros into something that can let me have my level 53 Warrior in Knights of Pen and Paper on my G3 when I install the game. I'm not here to call any developer incompetent or lazy, because any of them with a good (or even mediocre) game in Google Play has spent a lot of time and effort to create it. Development is hard, and game development can be even harder. While Google may tell us all how great and easy it is for developers to use their APIs and pre-built services, easy sometimes has a completely different definition at Google than it would everywhere else in the world. No, I'm not going to bash anyone.

Nothing is saved :(

I just want more. I'm a consumer, and we consumers always want more. I'm mentioning KoPaP because it's my absolute favorite mobile game (even without cloud save) and I really want the feature that allows me to play the same game on my phone and my tablet. Or on a new phone when I fire one up.

Am I asking too much?

Bonus level

I can't leave without a list of some great games that do offer google cloud save, and because of that I have them installed. We all love lists, and these folks deserve a shout-out for adding something that almost every gamer wants.

  • The Sandbox: Craft Play Share — Free in Google Play (with in-app purchases) this is the best pixel-by-pixel world builder since Minecraft.
  • Riptide GP2 — Console style racing with a ton of fast-paced action, and multiplayer madness! $1.99
  • Osmos HD — One of the best late-night chill games ever. Well worth the $2.99 price-tag.
  • Wind-up Knight — Free with in-app purchases, Wind-up Knight is a 3D side-scroller that offers hours and hours of gameplay.
  • Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour — At $6.99, plenty of people are going to balk at buying this one. But if you want a real FPS on your phone or tablet, this is where you start.

You probably noticed more than a few games that I've mentioned I love to play aren't on that list. Titles like Granny Smith, or Plague, Inc or World of Goo. You probably guessed the reason they aren't there, too.

Game devs, please use Google cloud save? Pretty please?

 

Reader comments

Game devs - for the love of all things holy start using cloud save

91 Comments

It needs root.Besides it still isnt as convenient as using Cloud save.If I complete a level on my phone the same isnt reflected on my tablet so this wont solve the issue

Helium worked great for me when I got my N5. Brought all my Temple Run 2 data over. TR has since added cloud save..... Sorta. It brings everything over but your coins and gems. No idea why those are omitted.

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App

I'll bet if you think really hard and put on your cynical hat, you can figure out why they wouldn't want coins and gems to transfer between devices. :)

^If you look at any Glu game that uses gold coins you will see that coins earned in one game cam be used in another ^

Posted via t he Sprint LG G2 Android Central App

Helium has only recently become reliable enough to complete a backup without freezing on my Nexus 5.

TiBu doesn't always save you.

Case in point: I was at level 28 in "Assassins Creed: Pirates", when my device spontaneously rebooted JUST as I finished a mission, and when I booted back up, the game kept crashing because (verified via adb shell) of a corrupted profile save and its backup being 0 bytes.

My last TiBu backup was only a couple days away, but worthless, because I wasn't going to replay from the beginning. Cloud save would've saved me.

Will not work for games like marvel avengers alliance, where your saved game is tied to your device id on their server. So your stuck on that one device.

Fail!

Posted via Android Central App

Xsposed Framework and Xprivacy. Change your device ID of that app only, on the other devices. Nothing that can't be solved with root ;-p

Why are people making so much effort in the comments to prove to the developers that they don't need to make things easier, better, and more reliable for us? All this effort to show people how to hack their systems to manually do this just promotes laziness to the developers.

That seems like an overly-simplistic angle. I get your point, but that really works only from a hardcore tech geek perspective. We're a minority by far.

Subway Surfers desperately needs this.I unlocked all characters and boards with decent ingame cash to spare and after buying a new Nexus 5 found that there was no way to restore the savegame without root so I gave up on it.Shame it was a great game but starting from Zero makes me feel nauseous

Helium can work without root. Did you try using that to back it up and restore it on your Nexus 5.

Posted via Android Central App

It can work without root, but it doesn't backup system data, or backup encrypted data. Basically if you paid for the app, it can't back it up, or it's content.

This is exactly the game that pissed me off the other day. I stopped playing months ago, and then my daughter beat my score. So I reinstalled it, logged back into Facebook, and NONE of my progress was there. Zero.

Turned out I luckily DID have a Helium backup of it, it happened to be one of the few apps that actually backed up successfully AND it didn't get corrupted when I restored old backup data to a new version of the app. But I shouldn't have to do ANY of that.

This is by far my biggest complaint about Android game developers. When I'm reviewing games in the Play Store, I won't give a five-star review even to my favorite games (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, PUNCH QUEST) if they don't use cloud save.

As much as I love Helium Backup, I kind of wish developers would make me not need it.

I agree with you. This is a huge withdrawal for me.
I enjoy games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and games like these storylines are generally so long, it's impossible to beat them before I get a new device, since I get pretty much every new phone that comes out haha.

This being the case, I rarely get to complete these games because I'm not sticking with the same device, and I also don't root frequently, only a few devices here and there so Titanium Backup is not a solution.

Google has made some awesome features for game devs to use, I'd like to see them start.

OMG pleaaaaaaaaase. This has determined if I play a game on my phone or not. I seriously am sick of losing saves every time I switch from phone to tablet, or flash a new rom. I can back up my apps, but it doesn't always work properly.

1 of the reasons I can't be asked with investing time in a game on a phone or tablet. If you got multiple device you don't want to worry about what games will be installed on what device and also with games like Temple Run what's the point of getting high scores, achievements etc if you lose it if you get a new phone. It's like devs don't know that cloud saves exist. Don't devs realise it's stupid that you cannot sync your saves across device. We live in a world that everything is about cloud sync etc but there's devs are stuck, clueless or something to not implement. Seriously google is literally offering the service for free so why not use it and improve your game. Also Google needs to make it more clear which games actually have cloud saves. So many games sues Google play games services but don't bother with the cloud saves. I was excited when google announced it, thinking finally but nothing has happened. These guys want games to have constant interest connection when playing a game but they can't offer cloud saves.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

Why mc4 and not mc5? It offers the same cloud save I believe. But I digress

Posted by a tuba playing,nexus 5 and 7 carrying future hacker.

It's one of of my favorite things about Dead Trigger 2. Now, they use their own servers instead of Google's implementation, but there's little difference to the user. I can play on my tablet and my phone. In fact, when Amazon has their free coin promos, I install the game from their app store and sign in to spend those coins on in game items. With the cloud saves, those items still exist in my other installs.

I totally agree that cloud save is a critical feature. But for games that don't support it, I have used Helium to transfer my save data from one device to the other. This app is great, and it doesn't require root access to do the backups.

And not only games but every app, thats a thing Android lacks compared to iOS but I can see why they are doing it, with so many devices and imcopability apps to some switching data from one device to another could corrupt it.

Nah, that's not an issue. All you need to move along devices is the save-data, not the game data itself. That would be the same on any device. Google provides everything they need already, but that's what you get when such an important feature isn't available from the get go. Some developers are lazy and won't make changes to their game.

Posted via Android Central App

I completely agree with the topic, but I think it would be interesting if there would be some kind of interview with some bigger game developer to hear why they might not use it yet. One thing I could imagine is the problem when a user has it running on multiple devices at the same time or he stops playing on one device, has no data connection at that point, and then starts playing on another device. I would "guess" that those situations "could" be some tricky points to solve.

I just wish Google Play Games levels synced. Right now I'm listed as level 15 on my N7 and Shield but level 16 on my OPO. If I go through my activity on my Shield or N7, it shows that I got to level 16 but doesn't list it as such. And there's no sync option to force it to get the correct amount of EXP that I have. Especially annoying since this is an official Google app.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm developing an action platformer for all major systems and we will include cloud save. Unfortunately it probably won't sync across PS4, Android, PC and iOS, etc.

Posted from my Motorola Moto G.

Amen Brother! Preach it! I have stopped buying in app purchases and games because of this. I have a tablet and a phone. I don't always have my tablet and expect that I should be able to log into a game and play a little and have that continue on my tablet later when I'm home. I'm just not going to spend any money on a game anymore if I can't continue my play on both my phone and tablet.

Windows Phone has cloud save for ages but like 5 percent of the games use it.
on android i use titanium and it works great and its offline ( internet connection here is a tragedy)
but still having cloud save is good, really good.

TB is great but there are still games that can't have their data restored that way for whatever reason. Kritika is one that I experience lately. Sucks. It should have cloud save though. It would also benefit having multiple devices where you can start a game on your phone, put it down, pick up your tablet and continue your progress.

why are people not upset that this isnt a thing across all apps? apple had this nailed down a long time ago. when i get a new device or restore one, i want all my apps data the exact same as they were with all of the data. if i do something on my phone i want it done on my tablet as well too. this and our SMS/MMS from the desktop hangouts are all i ask for.

I'm 100% with you on the cloud save, but this is not exclusive to games. As far as I know saving app data in the cloud is a standard Android feature long time ago.
I mention it because your article pictures are from Google Game Center, which requires a Plus account, and by definition restrict from the benefit to children younger than 13yo. Not sure why this feature must be linked to a social network.

Sorry I view this as just more bloat, requiring Google - to use, no thanks!

Posted via the Android Central App

Pretty sure you don't actually know what 'bloat' means. If you don't want it, you don't have to use it. None of Google's services are required. Quit your crying.

Posted via Android Central App

Should be able to save application data across any os and use on multiple devices.

Posted via the Android Central App

Modern combat 4? MC5 is where it's at. 4 is just antiquated. Especially because it cost's $7 and also has in app purchases.

Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X

I couldn't agree more. For serial phone switchers (or even those of us that might start a game on a phone but might like to continue on a tablet) this is a real issue. I was annoyed when I discovered Injustice (where I had spent real $$) didn't carry over from device to device.

Posted via Android Central App

Windows phone 8.1 backs up everything doesn't matter matter about the devs the is does it to one drive

Posted via Android Central App

They say it is but regardless of what the front name is its azure on the backend

Posted via Android Central App

I bet most games are ports of iOS so they don't want to have to add additional code for the port.

I personally use titanium backup if I need to port data like this to a new device but it would be nice to pick up my tablet at home and play the same save I played on my phone at work.

It is just too bad that shitty Google+ is needed. It should be tied to your Google account but last time I tried logging into the play games thing it required Google+ I think.

Exactly why I don't have the achievements on my games. I'd love to use the cloud save and track my achievements, but I'm not going to use it if I have to post that crap all over the internet to anyone with G+. So I just use TB and save to drive if I need to transfer a backup to a different device.

Just like Facebook, you do NOT "have to post that crap all over the internet to anyone with G+". You have full control over how visible it is. Actually, more so than Facebook.

I'm looking for the same time. I can't see a cloud save badge on he Play Store pages for the games Jerry said has cloud save.

Posted via Android Central App

Amen. I move between my phone and my tablet and would love cloud save. And then my tablet crashed where I played a puzzle game mostly sending me back to level 1.

My new policy as of about 2 months ago is no cloud save, no purchase or download. It's just that simple. Sometimes I play on my phone, sometimes I play on my tablet. If I can't pick up where I left off on either one of those, I just don't even want to invest the time in the game.

Posted via a beautiful Ebony backed Moto X on Verizon or the amazing Nexus 10 using the Android Central App

I will never again buy anything via in app purchases in a game that doesn't have cloud save. This is a critical feature and a major deciding factor in purchasing or playing anything. It is one of the major reasons I have walked away from tribez and castlez and I considered in app purchases for it many time but no go without the cloud.

Posted via Android Central App

I took a different route on that one. I have a game that you get so many lives a day, and you can punches more, but no cloud save. Instead of losing my progress and any extra purchased lives, I just went through the data files and edited the number of lives. I can't remember how many lives I had since the lazy developer didn't use cloud save, was it five or seven, maybe it was two hundred, ya, that sounds about right.

Well if Eternity Warriors 3 uses it, it does a shitty job. Update erased all my progress. It'll log in to Play Store. Titanium backup only works if I uninstall the game, restore app + data and then update on Pay Store. Even then, when I stop playing and exit, I lose progress again

Couldn't agree more. I hate games that don't offer some sort of save syncing between devices. It doesn't even have to be the one from Google Play Games.

Agree with this 100% It's the reason I quit playing Subway Surfers when my HTC One died and I lost all my progress.

Google could easily fix this!

Just make a setting in the Playstore "show games with cloud save only".

This would motivate the lazy developers...

Or better: JUST INTRODUCE A GOOD BACKUP IN ANDROID!
That's an area Android is completely lacking...

Posted via Android Central App

Doesn't android do a great job of backups anyway? Whenever I sign in to a new device, all my apps re-download and I even get my wallpapers back

Posted via Android Central App

You can always make a backup /android/data/InsertAppNameHere and copy it to another device. That's how I'm redoing the whole Sonic CD, Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 to unlock characters again, or going through the first two levels in Super Hexagon in order to unlock hyper levels I had unlocked already. Cloud Save is a much better solution and I wish more games implemented it *cough*Granny Smith*cough* but in the meantime, there are workarounds.

Count me as another person who now insists on cloud saving. Although further than that, there really needs to be full backing up from Google. Yeah yeah, I know different devices yadda yadda yadda. But that's why the smart people at Google get paid the big bucks. Figure it out. Sort it out. And give users a better experience.

Posted via Android Central App

This is precisely the reason I'm on the fence about keeping my Shield Tablet. If I'm out with just my phone and play a game, I want that progress to sync to the tablet at home. Otherwise, I'd prefer to all my gaming on a single device, and since the phone is always with me, that's going to be the one.

Posted via Android Central App

Is there a way to search for games in the Play store and to filter for just games that do use cloud save? Or is there a list somewhere of cloud save games?

Posted via Android Central App

There's actually a simple solution to this: Google should reject (adding or updating) gaming apps that are not using Google Cloud Save.

How about adding Cloud Save to the Android Central app in order to keep the read/unread state of stories across devices?

Posted via Android Central App

I'm surprised that no one's brought up kids yet-- I guess that they might be content with starting over, but how much of a pain in the ass would it be if you were constantly making and restoring backups because your children kept switching devices?

I'd imagine that they're going to be a lot less patient and more vocal about it, too.