Google+ Games: The good, the great and the glaring flaw

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Google+ GamesEarlier this month, the social games ... game changed forever. Google unleashed Google+ Games, and even if it turns out to be unsuccessful, it has already validated the grip social games have on the industry. More importantly, Google's competing social games platform is likely the first at many attempts from big league web companies to combat Facebook, which all but ensures that this nascent genre will live on for years to come.

However, after nearly two weeks with Google+ Games, it's clear what has been done right with the platform, and, more importantly, what still needs to be done. So, let's take a look at the good, the great and the glaring flaw in Google+ Games.

The Good

While your eyes might glaze over at the sight of percentages and numbers (like mine), the fact that Google is taking just a 5 percent cut--news outlets are reporting that this is promotional--from developers' revenues through micro-transactions is a good, good thing. Namely, this because it will (and already has) attract a flock of social game developers looking to escape Facebook's 30 percent cut through Facebook Credits. This, of course, means more games. And, as of right now, Google has the support of some of the biggest names in social games from Zynga to PopCap and Wooga, and we doubt they'll be done anytime soon.

Google+ Games featured games
Probably even better is the fact that Google+ Game even exists inherently creates competition, one of the ultimate motivators (besides the obvious, which has already been made evident by Facebook). And competition leads to, well, more robust platforms for us, the gamers. And we've already seen this in action, as Facebook recently announced a number of improvements to its games platform, many of which seem quite similar to Google+. These competitively-fueled changes will almost certainly continue within both platforms, which will inevitably give players the choice between two appealing options for where to play their games. Speaking of which ...

The Grrreat!

While the selection of games on Google+ is tiny, it's nothing short of impressive. But what's even more impressive is how the games are presented. Until Facebook's changes finally go live (at least for me), Google+ makes better use of the average laptop's screen real estate. Perhaps this is thanks to lack of ads on the screen or much of anything aside from the games, though I haven't done pixel-to-pixel comparisons. Regardless, Google's no-nonsense approach to social games is something we can only hope remains a staple.

And just look at how quickly these games load! Is it just me, or are the same games offered on Facebook far faster on Google+? Games on Facebook take minutes to load at times (ahem, FrontierVill--er, Pioneer Trail), while on Google+ I'm seconds away from flinging furious fowl or blowing up shiny gems. Not only that, but the games appear to run more smoothly than their Facebook counterparts. However, this could change as more players turn their backs on Facebook to try Google+, at least for a little while.

Google+ Games sharing
The sharing in Google+ Games is also smooth, and allows players to pick and choose who they share updates with. If the player just decides to go public with their high score, it will appear in a special Games Stream. This means that even if you share something publicly, it only appears in a stream of news updates beneath the Featured Games tab, thus showing the message to fellow gamers. The issues of accidentally telling everyone you know of your triumphs over your gaming friends are through.

The Glaring Flaw

For everything that Google+ Games has going for it, is bears one obvious imperfection. Namely, there is no community element to the platform whatsoever. Facebook gamers are a fervent audience that like to have their voices heard (just check out our Facebook page and see). This is normally done through Facebook games' official fan pages, those which Google+ doesn't have yet. For instance, PopCap always throws time-sensitive events for Bejeweled Blitz players, and it rallies the players through its Facebook fan page, and those who have 'Liked' the page are notified immediately.

Google+ Games Stream
This is simply not possible on Google+ Games at the moment, because companies have no presence there ... yet. While Google would be silly not to introduce brands and companies in the mix, they're not there when it counts: the beginning. Aside from simple events, players opt to find new friends through the Facebook fan pages of their favorite games, another thing that won't happen on Google+ Games anytime soon. (And besides, Facebook gamers like a place to complain ... where's that on Google+?) The sooner the search giant introduces a way for developers and players to communicate outside of technical support links, the better chance it will have at growing into a games giant, too.

Have you tried games on Google+ yet? What would you say is great about Google+ Games, and what would you change? Sound of in the comments. Add Comment.
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