Cheating is an ever-present problem for many games, especially on platforms like PC and Android where it’s easier to modify a game’s files. Google is now rolling out the Play Integrity API on Android, aimed specifically at limiting cheats and other modifications.
Google first released the Play Integrity API in a developer preview last year, as an optional feature for apps and games to implement. “The Play Integrity API helps protect your apps and games from potentially risky and fraudulent interactions, such as cheating and unauthorized access, allowing you to respond with appropriate actions to prevent attacks and reduce abuse,” the company said in developer documentation.
Explainer video from last year’s preview release
During today’s Google I/O event, it was revealed that the Play Integrity API is now available to all apps and games. The API works just like it did in earlier previews — once an application adds the required code, it can detect if the app or game package has been modified in any way, and perform any action accordingly (such as blocking access or flagging the player for review).
Developers can also use the API to check if someone has a valid license (e.g. the app has been paid for through the Play Store, if it’s a paid app), and if the device running an app or game has been certified by Google to support Google Play Services. Those two features were already accessible through other means, but Google is rolling them into this API too.
Even though cracking down on online game cheaters is the most obvious use case for the new API — especially given the recent focus on advanced anti-cheat methods in PC games by other companies — it will probably be used by many other applications too. Many banking applications already block rooted or modified Android devices, and Netflix also doesn’t allow itself to be downloaded with uncertified devices (e.g. devices that shipped without Google Play services, like Huawei phones).
Many applications and games have their own anti-cheat solutions, but the new API from Google might be easier to implement than other solutions. The new functionality will be especially helpful as Google works to expand Android games to PC.