Tag Archives | Google Plus

Google+ Games Needs New Ideas, Not Facebook’s Leftovers

At first glance, CityVille’s arrival on Google+ seems like good news for the social network. CityVille is Zynga’s most popular game on Facebook, and among the 18 titles currently on Google+ Games, it’s a standout alongside Angry Birds and Bejeweled Blitz.

But with CityVille, Google+ Games is no more exciting than it was last week. The game already launched on Facebook nine months ago, so unless you’ve got some grudge against Facebook and have been holding out all this time, CityVille+ doesn’t offer anything new.

Google may not realize this because it’s new to gaming, but it won’t get anywhere by pursuing Facebook’s leftovers. What it really needs–as any new gaming platform throughout history has needed–is a killer exclusive. Something that everyone wants, but no other platform has. The social network’s equivalent to Super Mario Bros., Halo or Uncharted. A system seller.

I have a feeling this game won’t come from Zynga, a publisher whose biggest innovations in social gaming are behind it, and whose main interest will continue to be in Facebook as long as that’s where the users are. For that matter, no major social game publisher is likely to create the killer exclusive that Google+ Games really needs.

But somewhere, there’s a developer with amazing ideas that could innovate social gaming in unforeseen ways. Maybe it’s an industry veteran-turned-indie game maker, or a small developer that lacks the resources to pursue its vision, or an up-and-coming studio like Mojang. In any case, Google needs to be on the hunt for this developer, and this idea, if the company is at all serious about gaming on Google+. The platform doesn’t need CityVille. It needs the next FarmVille–figuratively, of course.


Google+ Goes Beta, Makes Hangouts the Star Attraction

Google+ has shed its invite-only status, and is now open to all in public beta. That’d be a bigger deal if the service wasn’t already open to anyone with a Google account, and if existing members didn’t each have 150 additional invites to hand out.

The real news here is about Google+ Hangouts, which began as a 10-way video calling service but is now showing grander aspirations.

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Google+ Games Has Potential, Just Like the Rest of Google+

Last week, Google launched its long-awaited online gaming portal as part of its budding social network, Google+.

Like Google+ itself, the big selling point for Games on Google+ is that it respects personal boundaries more than Facebook. Instead of dumping everyone’s game-related status updates into your main timeline, Google+ games are relegated to a separate tab, so your main timeline remains uncluttered.

The less intrusive approach to status updates may be a big lure for some people, but it’s not the hook Google+ games need. And with only 16 titles at launch (albeit with some big names like Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz and Zynga Poker), Google’s social gaming service isn’t catching up to Facebook anytime soon.

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Google+ Games Might Not Be Obnoxious

As Harry and other tech pundits have noted, one of the nice things about Google+ is how little noise there is compared to Facebook. Now there’s a hint that it’ll stay that way even after Google starts building games into the service.

Slashgear’s Chris Davies discovered a Google+ help page that describes how users can see different sources of content in their streams. “If you’re looking for updates shared from games, check out your Games stream,” the page said. (Google has since removed this reference from the page in question, which isn’t surprising because Google+ doesn’t have any games yet.)

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Music To Google’s Ears: Facebook Sucks, Say Survey Respondents

If you’re on Facebook, chances are that you don’t think it’s anywhere near perfect. At least that’s the findings of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which released its results for 2011 yesterday. Facebook scored a 66 out of 100. While that may not sound that low, it comparison to other sites it is.

Not only is Facebook the lowest ranked social networking site, but it also scored the lowest of any company in the technology business that ACSI studied. Can you say ouch?

Leading the pack in the social media category was Wikipedia, with a score of 78. YouTube came in second at 74, and a category called “Others” at 67. I guess it’s pretty bad when you’re even losing to unnamed services. Social networking in general doesn’t garner high satisfaction overall among consumers, ACSI says. With a group rating of 70, only airlines, newspapers, and subscription television services score lower.

It’s really too early to say whether Google+ may turn the fortunes of this sector around — the survey results were compiled before the site launched. However, researchers believe it may score high. “We do know is that Google is one of the highest-scoring companies in the ACSI,” Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, creator of the ACSI said.

“An existing dominance of market share like Facebook has is no longer a safety net for a company that is not providing a superior customer experience,” he argued. In other words, 2012 could be interesting.


My Favorite Google+ Feature: It Pesters

I haven’t spent a lot of time with Google’s new social networking project, Google +, but little by little, it’s drawing me back. That’s not because of the dozen or so people I’m following, or because of the promising 10-way video chat, or even because of the new approach to privacy that makes you sort contacts into groups.

No, my attraction to Google+ lies mostly in the fact that it won’t go away. Every time I run a Google search or check my Gmail, Google+ lurks in the top right corner of the screen, alerting me to new activity and letting me post status updates. The bare essentials of Google+ are embedded in every service that Google offers.

This might sound a little odd, but I like the fact that Google+ bothers me.

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Google Plus: The Early Reaction

I’m in at Google+, Google’s new offering that’s less of a monolithic “Facebook killer” and more of a loose network of socially-oriented services. Right now, Google has opened it up to only a small number of folks: it’s an odd world in which nearly everyone is a journalist, a blogger, or a Google employee. But it’s engaging in ways that Buzz and Wave never were–thanks in part to an inventive interface designed by Mac legend Andy Hertzfeld.

(“Often inventive” is probably the better way to put it–there are also parts of + that are borrowed directly from Facebook, like the organization of the home page.)

This post isn’t a Google+ review–I’m cranking away on an unrelated deadline which I’m behind on, in part because I keep taking breaks to check out +. For the moment, here are some other folks’ impressions, most of which are guardedly positive. (The “guardedly” is pretty much a given, considering Google’s patchy reputation when it comes to anything relating to social networking.)

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan: “…this is a much better and more thoughtfully designed product than Buzz.”

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler: “I’ve spent the last several hours using Google+. That’s a good sign.”

PCWorld’s Megan Geuss and Mark Sullivan: “In general we thought the service borrowed some good ideas from the reigning king of social networks, Facebook, but also offers some cool new approaches to sharing content and managing privacy.”

PCMag’s Mark Hachman: “Put simply, Google+ is a social network for geeks.”

More thoughts to come…