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Google+ games are just the “tip of the iceberg,” says Google

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Google (s goog) says it is cautiously optimistic about its rollout of games on Google+, calling it the first step in an ambitious plan to turn the fast-growing social network into a powerful platform. The launch of games, expected for some time, includes 16 titles from 10 developers, most of them Flash games that have been designed to work on Google+.

Google’s Punit Soni, lead product manager for Google+ Games and Mobile, and Google’s VP of product Bradley Horowitz told reporters today that the company is content to roll out slowly and absorb lessons as it builds for a much bigger future for its social-networking platform. Horowitz said that a measured rollout of games is the the start of a process that will see the company add more applications that can build on Google+’s API.

“It’s not just a race to the top in terms of users, it’s about the quality of the product. We believe we want to build something durable and consistent with Google values,” said Horowitz.  “This is the tip of the iceberg, this is just getting started.”

Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product for Google+

Horowitz said that a key selling point for Google+ Games is how clean it is for users and non-users alike — the Google VP said the idea was to keep spam and other kinds of unwanted invitations and updates out of a user’s stream, maintaining the integrity of their experience. That seems like a fairly obvious dig at Facebook and complaints from some users about unwanted game-related content appearing in their stream.

Horowitz said that Google debated early on about the need for games, and whether that was consistent with Google’s mission. But he said it became clear that games weren’t a diversion but could become a core part of the company’s approach to social.

Soni said that Google will also be competing hard for exclusives and will be pushing to get differentiated games that build off the unique features of Google+. He hinted at games that could take advantage of multi-person chats through Hangouts as an example of games that could be unique to the platform. Cross-platform games that could work between between mobile devices and computers are also a goal the company is looking at, Soni said, and will hopefully attract developers.

“We’re going to be very aggressive to make sure our users are happy and as we do that, new games will come and exciting things will happen and we’ll have people beating down our doors to get in,” Soni said.

Soni said that Google will also only charge 5 percent on in-app purchases and transactions — although that will be a promotional rate with a final percentage to be set later. That could be a big opportunity to lure developers away from Facebook, which takes 30 percent of transactions. And even just providing a viable alternative to Facebook could attract some developers who want to diversify their options.

Soni said the key thing now is making sure games can work on the platform, adding that the API is in its infancy but will evolve over time to include more features.”The focus here is the platform, it’s to make sure we can provide an ecosystem that’s interesting for developers and you have an interesting and enhanced experience for users,” the Google executive said.

9 Responses to “Google+ games are just the “tip of the iceberg,” says Google”

  1. the Google VP said the idea was to keep spam and other kinds of unwanted invitations and updates out of a user’s stream, maintaining the integrity of their experience.


    Now if they would get rid of their ads on Youtube videos.

  2. Toastie

    I think it’s ridiculous that Google is forcing users to make their game-playing a “social” experience by not giving users the ability to opt out of sharing their game events or being subjected to contacts’ game events. If Google Reader ever decided to randomly share my article-browsing with my contacts, I ditch that app in a heartbeat. WTF is Google thinking?

  3. Having option of games on G+ is great, but what about the privacy? I think people are moving from facebook( and other social network) to google because of thought that G+ will give higher control over privacy. Instead of that G+ is saying ” The games you play and your accomplishments (such as high scores, levels, and achievements) may be visible to other Google+ users. This makes it easy to find friends and play together. ”

    If we as user wants to play games with friend than it will be us who invites friends to play together not G+.

    • And how do you know people are moving from facebook to google+?? Does having a google+ account suddenly make it a certain that the user has switched to google+ and is no longer on facebook? Are you on only one social network yourself? I doubt there is one person in the world now with an active facebook account that is no longer using it because of google+. It might happen in the future but that remains to be seen so stop making silly sensational comments.

    • I agree completely.
      Google is at cross purposes here and missing the obvious attack vector.
      They want to do games like they do android it seems and give makers autonomy to collect data, etc with only some vague warnings.
      If they don’t set overall rules, and vet the games in that space they will have trouble.
      It won’t be long before some game maker takes user data and does xyz with it and will blow up into a PR nightmare for google+.
      Frankly – no third party needs the data. Google should be a wall and provide access to allow social function through the API. Nobody writing those games should get my friends e-mail addresses or a look at how I intereact with those people and how often.
      People hate facebook because of lack of privacy and convoluted settings for same.
      That is THY attack vector for google.
      Telling me there is a link to the privacy policy for every game I click on is wholly and incredibly insufficient and missing the mark.
      I’m on google+.
      I am your customer.
      Protect me!

      Also – having tried angry birds, the game is larger on regular chrome. It also does not import my scores from chrome even thought the levels are the same and it is the same google account tied to chrome and google+.
      That’s a bit of a fail.