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Here’s how to fix annoying problems with Google Play Games

Remain calm. Your Clash of Clans data is probably still on your hard-drive. You may have to eat those lost trophies, but hey, them’s the breaks. Join the crowd: plenty of people have been crowing about issues with Google Play on forums and in Play Store reviews.

This writer, in fact, suffered through several weeks with achievements going unrecorded. Finally I dug around in my applications, did some internet research, and viola, problem solved. Now I can share my game save data between my tablet and phone again.

All Google Play problems are not created equal, but you can try these simple fixes before giving up and resetting to factory defaults (which we can tell you how to do as well). The Android ecosystem is large, and since we here at DT don’t know your exact device and OS version, proceed at your own risk.

Related: How to factory reset your Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge

Clear Your Cache

Google Play Services app imageThat’s step number one. The cache is designed as a time-saving measure to preserve data those applications will use every time you tap them. This often won’t work, but it’s an easy first step, and there’s a chance this can fix the problem, or at least help you figure out which app is the offender.

Go into Settings > Apps. Google Play Games and Services are both there among your other apps. Wait for them to populate, then hit clear cache. Try Games first, then check to see if the problem is solved. If not, try clearing the Services cache next.  Log in to Google Play Games again. If it’s still not working, it’s time to move on to the next fix.

Check Google Play Services

Google Play Services is one of the few apps that you can’t remove. It runs in the background of a lot of other processes, and in this case is required for Google Play Games to run. The list of complaints in the review section of Play Services’ Google Play Store page is more than 800,000 strong. Many people resent the existence of this app on their phones, seeing it as huge, irremovable bloatware. Yet, arguing against its existence is like shaking your fist at the sky for being blue.

Clear Data and Uninstall Updates

On your phone, in Settings > Apps > Google Play Services, you can try clearing the data and uninstalling the Play Services updates. Do the same for Google Play Games.

Match Google Play Services to Your Android OS Version

If clearing the data and updates didn’t solve the problem, go ahead and check the Google Play Services version number. If you are running Lollipop, you will find it in parenthesis next to the main version number under App Info. If you’re not on Lollipop, you have to look the number up online. The idea is to correlate the version number of this app with your Android operating system version.

The last three digits of the Play Services version number (in parentheses) tell you the Android operating system, the CPU, and the DPI for which it was built. You can find your Android OS version in Settings under “About Phone.”

Check APKMirror, a website started by Android Police where you can find different app versions and this handy explanation of how to figure out which download of Services is right for you.

The last 3 numbers in the parentheses equal XYZ:

* X defines Android version:

  • 0 for Android <5.0
  • 4 and 7 for Android >=5.0
  • 8 for Android TV

* Y defines CPU architecture:

  • 1 for armeabi
  • 3 for armeabi-v7a
  • 4 for arm64-v8a
  • 7 for x86

* Z defines DPI:

  • 0 for universal
  • 2 for 160
  • 4 for 240
  • 6 for 320
  • 8 for 480

For example: Lollipop is Android OS version 5.0 and up, so in that case you need a version of Play Services where the third to last number is 4 or 7. You may have to dig a little for the CPU architecture; my Galaxy S5 uses a Krait 400 (an ARM version 7 compatible CPU). As for the last digit (Z), my screen has 432 pixels per inch. All that together means I needed Google Play Services version ending in 438. The complete Google Play Services version number that I needed was 7.5.74 (1997312-438).

Definitely use an antivirus program to check any file before you download it. Check Google Play Games again after you’ve installed the “new” or matching version. If it’s working, congratulations and game on.

Last resort

Still not working? Sorry! Better luck next time. The last suggestion here is the good ol’ soft reset to factory defaults. Save your data to an external card so you can see which app is doing the damage as you reload them. You should find all of the options you need for backing up your data and resetting the phone appropriately under Settings > General > Backup and reset. In case the problem is caused by a fundamental phone application that can’t be removed (like Google Play Services), take your updates one at a time.

Anyone want to comment with some better ideas other than the final resort of a factory reset?