Google Developing Gaming Device Certification Program

Google is starting a Gaming Device Certification program

Google’s Gaming Device Certification was just unveiled by the company as they intend on making mobile gaming less erratic and to improve performance all around for all users. The entire mobile gaming industry has reached the point where it is expected to generate roughly $90B per year by 2021. In 2019 alone over 2.4 billion users around the world are registered for playing games on their handheld devices, which has steered the entire mobile industry in that direction. As we got many manufacturers producing devices aimed at gaming, it is now time to set some rules, Google emphasizes.

Global Games Market by newzoo

Gaming Device Certification is intended as just such a program that is aimed at setting the bar for future gaming phones, and to put more value in the ‘Gaming’ part of the title. The company states that their goal is to set standards that will make sure video games perform as intended and run smoothly and predictably as they say, also with supporting the latest gaming APIs. It is often the case that the development of a certain game is constrained by the uncertain capability of current gaming phones. Also, sometimes even the profits of a certain game are dictated at how well they run on average gaming phones today…

The details about this latest development were leaked with the GMS 7.0 (Google Mobile Services) document in September, which laid out the basics of the technical requirements set up for companies that wish to obtain the Google’s approval for preloading their services and apps. This naturally includes the Google Play Store and Google Play Service. The guidelines and rules which need to be followed by gaming phone manufacturers are listed in the GMS document’s section 13.14. Rules about using all available CPU cores, providing an updated GPU, Display APIs, and more are all addressed. The document particularly addresses the amount of memory required to be allocated for current games, in order to avoid unexpected throttling and processes malfunction, which happens a lot these days with demanding games, even on mid-to-high range devices.

Gaming Phone

According to reliable online sources, this is a look at the Google Mobile Services (GMS) 7.0 section 13.14:

13.14 Gaming Device Certification

[GMS-M-13.14-001] If your device declares that it supports gaming device certification, then the device MUST comply with the requirements detailed below.

13.14.1 Predictable Performance

Certified devices need to behave in a predictable way so game developers don’t face unexpected throttling, lost CPU cores, or other odd system behaviors. Games SHOULD be able to expect that devices will respect their indicators about what work should be done when and on which cores.

13.14.1.1 Specific Device Requirements

[GMS-M-13.14.1.1-001] SurfaceFlinger MUST NOT latch unsignaled buffers – Certified devices must not latch a buffer before the GPU work is complete and the buffer is ready.

13.14.2 Correct and high-performance GPU behavior

Certified devices are required to provide a modern, up-to-date high-performance GPU and display APIs, and Enable reasonable frame introspection.

13.14.2.1 Specific Device Requirements

[GMS-M-13.14.2.1-001]

  • VK_GOOGLE_display_timing and VK_KHR_driver_properties extensions MUST be supported and MUST work – The device MUST provide support for these Vulkan extensions, which expose information about the precise present timing.
  • Choreographer timestamps must be correct – Events logged by Choreographer MUST carry correct timestamps.
  • Vulkan 1.1 MUST be supported – The Vulkan 1.1 3D rendering API MUST be supported.
  • Passes latest dEQP snapshot – Gaming certified devices MUST pass the newest version of dEQP regardless of which version of Android they ship with.

13.14.2.2 Memory behavior & requirements

[GMS-M-13.14.2.2-001] Certified devices MUST provide access to memory in a predictable way. Games SHOULD be able to allocate a reasonable amount of memory and not have their processes killed unexpectedly.

Minimum amount of memory allocated before LMK – Certified devices MUST allow a minimum of 2300MB of memory to be allocated before the LowMemoryKiller kills the process.

This is an excerpt from the document circulating online. The entire document is not available for the public so far and it is only given to registered companies, which is where it should go. If these notes are true, then companies who follow up and work with Google will benefit from them, as the rules will serve as a kind of quality control. Furthermore, Gaming Device Certification program is a natural progression and evolution of the mobile gaming market.