Archive for August 15, 2011
Late last week we saw the massive rollout of the Games button for Google Plus. Considering how slow G generally ships it’s betas, it was pretty impressive that they got this one out to at least the majority of the user-base in one fell swoop.
There is currently only a handful of games on the service, and from what I’m skimming off the top of other’s conversations, they’re all ports from Facebook. Before the button appeared for good, though, it popped up and then mysteriously vanished, but not before a shockwave was sent through the community with everyone reporting that they had they button! The wacky thing was, once the button vanished, many people were vocal about wanting it back. Furthermore, it wasn’t a surprise that the games on tap wouldn’t be any different then those on FB, so we had a situation where people were waiting with baited breath for the content that many of them – myself included – had been down on when FB was the only game in town. What changed?
The first thing is how G+ handles the “spam” that these games generate. It’s on it’s own page, so you only see it once you enter the games ecosystem. All the requests have their own tab on the left (although there’s no waiting message indicator there), and the games are presented via a carousel at the top of the page. Simple! If you never want to see the spam in your stream, or if you have no interest in games on G+, you’ll never, ever see any of it. I haven’t heard anyone complain, only compliment to muted degrees, so it sounds like something people can live with.
The second thing is permanence. FB games might have appealed to me if I had actually spent more then 10 seconds on the service in a given week. I generally popped in, checked up on certain people, and then closed down. Contrast that to G+, which I have open every day, and which has become my de facto network. It seems to have taken on the same responsibility for many of the people I had found originally through Twitter, which means that there’s more activity that I participate in on a daily basis on G+ then I have in FB. Because of the *ahem* social nature of these games, and because I’m always on G+, the games have a greater gravity here then on FB. I can make requests of people, and they’ll see them…on their own schedules, and without feeling put out that I’m waving a pamphlet in their faces. It’s more a feeling of good will all around with G+ then it ever was with FB.
The downside is that the games still really aren’t that compelling. I’ve been trying Dragon Age Legends and Edgeworld, and I’m not totally sure I’d classify either as a “game” in a traditional sense*. Both are more like stop-watches, where you engage in some kind of assembly-line activity for a short amount of time (basically, glorified maintenance work), and then are told to take a mandatory coffee-break, measured in hours. It’s odd, because I often do, and see others, bemoan the fact that there’s not enough time in the day to play our games, yet these games force you to play in short bursts. I think the disconnect is that in “real” games, we’re following a thread of narrative, driven by action and adventure, in the hopes of reaching the climax of the story, while in these “social” games, we’re pulling levers as directed by a never-ending tutorial agent without a real sense of why.