Why aren’t there games galore on Google+?
Google’s social-networking service, Google+, which has been available to the public since late September 2011, includes games as one of its key features, but up to this point the company has been limiting its offerings. As of February 23, there were only 39 titles available to play on Google+, in stark contrast to the hundreds of games available in the technology company’s Chrome Web Store for its browser.
That’s because Google, which considers the games section to be in a beta phase of development, has been hand-picking the games it wants to offer on its fledgling service.
Google+ differs from Facebook in that you can segment your sharing, directing certain updates only to those people you know share that interest with you. Among the features of Google+ are “circles”, a way for you to categorize your various relationships; “hangouts”, virtual meet-ups with multi-person video; and “messenger”, for communicating with people in a circle.
Among the games currently available on Google+ are familiar titles like Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz, and CityVille. But by restricting game developers’ access to Google+, the company may be hindering the growth of the social-networking service and its ability to compete with Facebook.
“They don’t have critical mass on there,” Kaboom Social Games founder Julian Ing told the Georgia Straight.
Ing worked with Vancouver startup Super Rewards when it was establishing itself as the preeminent third-party payment system for Facebook and with Mob Wars creator Dave Maestri before launching Kaboom in 2009. He estimates that, for the games section of Google+ to be successful, it needs to get around 20 percent of game players using the platform.
“I don’t know how they’re going to hit that number if they’re going to keep it closed,” he said on the phone from his Vancouver office.Kaboom’s latest title is the forthcoming Citizen Grim. Originally planned for release on Facebook and Google+, Ing noted that is no longer the case. “At this point, Google+ isn’t on our radar,” Ing said.
His industry colleagues have been telling him the same thing. Until they are able to establish what the return on investment is for games on Google’s social network, nobody seems inclined to jump in. “If we buy traffic for Citizen Grim on Google+, will we see it back out? Will we see that traffic convert into revenue? Even big companies aren’t willing to risk that yet,” Ing said.
In declining the Straight’s request for an interview, Google representatives suggested the company would be making an announcement about Google+ in March.
“Apparently, the Google+ population is filled with types of more mid-core and hard-core players,” Ing said, adding that he’s heard that engineers are more likely to be users. This happens to be the demographic being targeted by Kaboom, and it’s why Ing still wants to get Citizen Grim onto Google’s social-networking service. But it’s not a priority.
“We would rather port to iOS and Android and also localize to other countries before going to Google+,” Ing said.