There’s been a recent trend that found people leaving Facebook for mobile when it comes to gaming. Facebook has been working to improve its mobile presence with things like App Center so it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be able to take advantage of the mobile boom. Unfortunately, it seems that Google+ has a much simpler, but worse problem – it can’t keep developers on board.
Major game developer Wooga is pulling all of its games off of Google+. If you’re a fan of the social games movement, then you know Wooga as the force behind the super popular game Diamond Dash. They also created Monster World and Bubble Island. The games will be removed from the service on July 1.
According to Social Games Observer, the removal is due to lack of users on Google+. As they point out, social games are meant to be played with friends. I have more friends in circles on Google+ than I do on Facebook, but I never receive a single request to play games on the former. Speaking to All Things D, Wooga said that they have a “much larger following on Facebook and they are active users.”
Wooga pulling out might not have been much cause for alarm, but a much larger social games presence has also decide to pull their game – PopCap. The casual game developer told All Things D that they have “decided to suspend Bejeweled Blitz on Google+ to redeploy our resources to other adaptations of Bejeweled.” It doesn’t sound that threatening, but it still rings of what Wooga said – there’s not enough users on Google+.
If you recall, it was only last month that PopCap said the number of players between Facebook and Google+ for Bejeweled Blitz were comparable. Did the player base on Google+ really drop that rapidly in just a month or was PopCap hiding the real numbers? We reached out to PopCap and received the usual “we’re not commenting further at this time.”
This is a pretty major blow to gaming on Google+, regardless of the numbers. Even if more players are moving to mobile, players numbered in the millions are still playing games on Facebook. It proves that there’s still a market for this, Google just has to tap it.
As for Google themselves, they offered no comment on the specific games, but said that they are “committed to building great experiences for [their] users.” What that “great experience” is remains to be seen. There are only 51 games on Google+ and most of them, while popular, are all in the same three genres of puzzle, city-building and simulation. It lacks the variety that one finds with Facebook and mobile games.
A month ago, I said that Google+ needed to differentiate itself from the competition to succeed. That still stands true today. The games that are available now are all available on Facebook or are derivatives of more popular Facebook titles. Google+ has a lot of unique technologies available only to them like Hangouts on Air that could totally revolutionize how people play social games, and that potential is being squandered by trying to be Facebook.
Google+ has always wanted to differentiate itself from the competition and it has in all areas except for games. If the company wants to take gaming seriously, they need to start treating it with more respect. Social gamers are driven by fads with the current moving toward mobile. Google should take advantage of that to drive users to games on their superior mobile app while Facebook is still trying to figure it out.