Get started with Firebase in C++

1. Overview

In this codelab, you'll learn how to integrate the C++ Firebase Games SDK in a sample Android game using Google Analytics as an example. You'll be able to add features you need, integrate some basic analytics logic to measure your player's progress, and share the game with testers to get early feedback.


If you want to walk through this codelab with the authors watch this video:

What you'll learn

  • How to add Firebase to your Android CMake based game.
  • How to figure out which C++ and Gradle dependencies you need.
  • How to log Analytics events.
  • How to debug analytics events.
  • How to share your game with App Distribution.

What you'll need

  • Android Studio
  • The sample code
  • A test device or emulator with Google Play Services

2. Get the sample code

Checkout or Download from GitHub:

git clone

Download the Firebase SDK



Windows (from PowerShell):


You may also manually download the SDK. If you do this, the Firebase C++ SDK must be extracted into /third_party such that a folder named firebase_cpp_sdk has the root CMakeLists.txt from the Firebase SDK in it.

3. Run the sample game

First, play the sample game and ensure that everything is working. It's a simple infinite runner with a procedurally generated level and a single button to jump.

  1. Select File > New > Import Project (or select Import Project from the splash screen)
  2. Open the folder included in the repository
  1. [Optional] Open and fine PROP_APP_ABI. You may remove all but your target architecture to reduce build times. PROP_APP_ABI=x86 will build just for the emulator PROP_APP_ABI=armeabi-v7a will build for most phones
  2. Click the Debug button fa7d6449514b13c3.png to build and run the game. This will take time to build the Cocos2dx game engine.

4. Firebase Console Setup

  1. Create a new project in the Firebase Console. 5d2552e8450338d3.png
  2. Give it a name like "Popsicle Runner"
  3. Enable Analytics 255468f27832bb18.png
  4. Add or create an analytics account c7fa1b1004135be3.png
  5. Add a new Android app to your project 984b9f20cd590597.png
  6. Add com.firebase.popsiclerunner as your package name.


  1. Download the google-services.json and copy it into 95aae8dd12033335.png
  1. Ignore the given instructions for adding the Firebase SDK and click next
  2. You may click "Skip this step" when asked to verify your installation

5. Add Firebase to your game

Add the Firebase SDK to CMakeLists.txt

Open the root level CMakeLists.txt. This should have the following code near the top


cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.6)

set(APP_NAME popsiclerunner)


and add the following lines to the end of that CMakeLists.txt file


target_link_libraries(${APP_NAME} firebase_analytics firebase_app)

add_subdirectory includes the Firebase C++ SDK and makes it available to this game

target_link_libraries Hooks the game up with Firebase's C++ libraries built for Android.

Add the Google Services plugin

To hook up the Firebase SDK, you must add the Google Services plugin to your gradle build script. To do this, open the project level build.gradle file (this is in the folder). And add classpath '' as a buildscript dependency.


buildscript {
    repositories {

    dependencies {
        classpath ''

        // NOTE: Do not place your application dependencies here; they belong
        // in the individual module build.gradle files
        classpath ''  // Google Services plugin

Then add the plugin to your module level build.gradle file (this is in your folder). Add apply plugin: '' underneath apply plugin: '':


apply plugin: ''
apply plugin: ''  // Google Services plugin

Locate the C++ SDK in Gradle

To tell Gradle where to find the Firebase C++ SDK, add the following lines to the bottom of the settings.gradle file.


gradle.ext.firebase_cpp_sdk_dir = "$settingsDir/../third_party/firebase_cpp_sdk/"
includeBuild "$gradle.ext.firebase_cpp_sdk_dir"

Add the Android dependencies

To hook up the Android dependencies for Firebase, open the module level gradle file for popsicle_runner (in and add the following just before the typical dependences { section at the end:


apply from: "$gradle.firebase_cpp_sdk_dir/Android/firebase_dependencies.gradle"
firebaseCpp.dependencies {

AndroidX and Jetifier

Add AndroidX and Jetifier support by opening and adding this to the end:

android.useAndroidX = true
android.enableJetifier = true

Initialize Firebase in your game

Initialize Firebase in the game by opening up Classes/AppDelegate.cpp. Add the following #include directives to the top:


#include <firebase/app.h>
#include <firebase/analytics.h>

Then add App::Create and initialize the Firebase features you need. To do this, find AppDelegate::applicationDidFinishLaunching and add this code before auto scene = MainMenuScene::createScene():


    using namespace firebase;
    auto app = App::Create(JniHelper::getEnv(), JniHelper::getActivity());

If you debug the game and refresh the Firebase dashboard, you should see one new user appear after a minute or so.

6. Add Analytics

Even early in development, analytics is a useful tool to gauge how beta testers are interacting with the game. There are some analytics that are gathered automatically – such as retention reports – but it's useful to add custom events tailored for your specific game.

A good starting point is to log an analytics event when the player starts a level. We can use the number of level start events to see how often a player might replay the game in a session.


We'll also log an event when the player dies with how far they've gotten. This will let us see how changes we make change the duration of a single session and will help us determine if players want a shorter/harder game or longer/easier one.

Add Analytics Headers

Open Classes/PopsicleScene.cpp and add Firebase headers to the top so we can make analytics calls.


#include <firebase/analytics.h>
#include <firebase/analytics/event_names.h>

Log a Level Start event

To log an event when this Scene is staged by the Cocos2dx Director, find the stubbed function PopsicleScene::onEnter(). Enter the following code to log the Level Start event here:


using namespace firebase;

Log a Level End event

To see how well a player is doing, let's log a Level End event with how far the player got when they finally died. To do this, find PopsicleScene::gameOver(), and add this to the end of the if(!_gameOver) { block before setting _gameOver = true;:


    using namespace firebase;
    analytics::LogEvent(analytics::kEventLevelEnd, "distance", _lastDistance);

kEventLevelEnd is the level end event. Whereas "distance" is an "event parameter". We're adding the last recorded distance here, which is a good approximation for how far a player travelled before dying.

7. Testing Events

You can click Debug fa7d6449514b13c3.png now, but it'll take time for any events to get reported on the Analytics dashboard. There are two reasons for this: 1) events are batched and uploaded about once an hour to preserve battery and 2) reports are generated every 24 hours.

Enabling Debug Mode

It's still possible to debug Analytics events by putting your device into debug mode.

First make sure you have the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) installed and setup. Typing adb devices should show the device you're going to test on:

$ adb devices
List of devices attached
emulator-5554   device

Then run the following adb shell command:

adb shell setprop com.firebase.popsiclerunner

This tells Firebase Analytics to log events immediately, and will automatically exclude them from your normal reports to avoid polluting your live events when testing. If you want to undo this action later simply write:

adb shell setprop .none.

Viewing Events

Open the "DebugView" in your Firebase Console 84472ac3a7ad9aff.png

Click Debug fa7d6449514b13c3.png and play the game. You should see new events appearing almost immediately after they occur in game. 5e81dfa682497414.png

If you expand the level_end event, you'll also see the custom "distance" parameter you've logged. 4451be4a6a97399c.png

8. Finding testers

Next you'll want to get eyes on your game whether they're internal to your studio, among close friends, or from your community. Firebase App Distribution gives you a great way to invite players to play your game.

Building a Standalone Binary

First build a standalone APK to share from Build > Build Bundles(s) / APK(s) > Build APK(s) 14c6bd5549cdb57a.png

Android Studio will pop up a dialog box letting you locate the built file. If you miss it, you can click on "Event Log" to get the link again. ac730e3428689c4c.png

Upload to Firebase App Distribution

  1. Open App Distribution and click "Get Started" dcdafea94e4c1c15.png
  2. Drag and drop your .apk file into the box that says "Drag any .apk here to create a new release." 4b6f94a05391c63f.png
  3. Enter your email address as the first tester. ce047d710befa44a.png
  4. Click Next.
  5. Add a description and Click Distribute

Invite Testers

Rather than having to manually enter every email address, you can create an invite link. When you capture a user with this invite link you can also add them to a group of testers. This would let you separate internal testers from external testers for instance.

  1. Click "Testers & Groups" 7e380773faff4eb7.png
  2. Create a new group 6b046c010b14adaf.png, and give it a name like "Android Testers."
  3. Click "Invite links" a7fc2c8b01b6883e.png
  4. Click "New invite link"
  5. Set the group here from the dropdown. d1b289e825d93d40.png
  6. Click "Create Link"
  7. Click "Copy link" and share it out however you wish

9. Congratulations

You've successfully added analytics to your C++ based game, invited some friends to play, and you know how to find and link Firebase libraries in a CMake and Gradle based build system common in Android development.

What we've Covered

  • How to add Firebase to your Android CMake based game.
  • How to figure out which C++ and Gradle dependencies you need.
  • How to log Analytics events.
  • How to debug analytics events.
  • How to share your game with App Distribution.

Next Steps

  • Try logging in a user anonymously and saving their high score in Realtime Database.
  • Log Analytics events in your own game.
  • Try adding analytics to an iOS game.

Learn More