As you may have guessed, I'm not a big Facebook gamer.
Google announced the addition of games to Google+. They began the rollout on Thursday.
"With the Google+ project, we want to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web," said Vic Gundotra, Google Senior VP, Engineering, on the Google Blog. "But sharing is about more than just conversations. The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life."
"That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences," he added. "Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t."
Clearly, Games have been a huge part of building Facebook's popularity. Zynga games in particular, have been a large part of that. Now, you will find that Zynga is offering games on Google+ as well.
Google got its feet wet with games in the Chrome Web Store, and got plenty of Chrome users addicted to Angry Birds, which as you can see from the above image is one of the titles offered via Google+. That alone should keep a number of people engaged with Google+.
Google acquired a couple of social game companies last year in Slide and SocialDeck. On top of that, Google is encouraging third-party envelopers to build games for Google+, all the while taking only 5% in commission compared to Facebook's 30%. Developers can learn more about developing games for Google+ here.
It's true that Google+'s early days have seen tremendous growth for the service, but not everyone is sold on the network being a Facebook killer, and it probably doesn't have to be, but clearly, Google is serious about building this thing as a major player in the space. Games should help them along that quest.
This whole authorship markup thing for search may play a significant factor as well. If having a Google Profile means helping your chances of ranking in search, you can bet that a lot of people are going to take that seriously, and that's going to add a great deal of visibility to those profiles, which will in turn add a great deal of visibility to Google+.
Someone in the comments of this article said Google will get in trouble for this. I don't know about that, but it is interesting that Google would reveal this right as the company is engulfed in regulatory scrutiny - namely a broad investigation into its business practices by the Federal Trade Commission (not to mention an upcoming hearing with the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust).
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that "people familiar with the probe" indicated that Google's Android and web search businesses would be key areas of focus.
Clearly, Google is very confident in its own business practices in regards to competition. Google has stood very firm on its stance in this regard, recently providing 5 key principles as to why it stands up to any scrutiny in this area.
Once Google announced Google+ Games, Facebook immediately followed it up with some game and app related announcements of its own, showing that they're not only improving the gaming experience for users, but pushing them more aggressively. The company has begun rolling out a new ranking system aimed at better surfacing app stories to people who will "most likely" engage with it. We'll see how well that works. They've had some issues in that "most likely" departement with the chat list.
It's interesting that Facebook is now almost taking the opposite approach on app/game visibility. Tricia Duryee at All Things D asks if Facebook is bringing back viral spam, saying that they're "bringing back some viral components that were turned off after users complained about random alerts cluttering their news feeds."
All the more interesting considering recent ban bot-related events, and Mark Zuckerberg's personal criticism of an app's auto-wall posting.