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Google+ integration removed from Play Games as network fades away

Google relaunched Google+ in November 2015, putting its community aspect at the centre and launching a new-look website. The company has been making sweeping changes to the service since announcing it would put “everything in its right place” in July.
It has already removed the controversial and much-disliked linking of YouTube and Google+ accounts. Last year, it launched its popular Google Photos service without any automatic Google+ integration and has indicated more is still to come. Recently, it announced the next app that Google+ is going to be retired from, Google Play Games.
Play Games lets Android gamers sync progress, achievements and friends between devices. It acts as a centralized gaming hub akin to the Game Center on iOS or the Xbox app on Windows 10.
In a developer blog post, Google explains it will “reduce sign-in friction” by allowing players to use Play Games without a Google+ account. New users will now receive a new player ID after their first sign-in which will be different than the Google+ IDs previously used. For current users, the Google+ ID will continue to be used for now.
The changes will make it much simpler to start using the features of Play Games if the user does not have or does not want a Google+ account. Now, they can be signed in automatically as long as a Google account is already stored on the phone. Other changes are also being made that will further streamline the sign-in process.
Currently, the player has to sign-in again in every new game they download. Google is axing this old requirement and players will now get signed in automatically after a single login to the main app. The feature can be disabled but otherwise “new games will be able to sign in without any user interaction.”
Ordinarily, the changes wouldn’t be all that significant. The move represents the next stage in the gradual demise of Google+ though, the social network Google hoped would compete with Facebook but ultimately never caught on.
The site suffered because it lacked a distinct purpose, something Google came close to admitting in November last year when it rolled out the new Google+. With a defined emphasis on community and interest ‘hubs’, the company now sees the service as a way to bring people together and encourage different interests, something that doesn’t require any integration with YouTube or Android gaming.

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