Games in Google+ Should Scare Facebook

The latest addition to the social network could hit Facebook where it hurts

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Today Google+ started rolling out what could elevate it to a Facebook-level social network: games. When Google+ launched last month, it was unclear if Google had released a social media juggernaut or another dud. But then after just two weeks over 10 million people had signed up for the service, which showed that the newest social network could compete with the big boys, we wondered if Facebook should start freaking out. The social network has continued to grow, but they still have a long road ahead before they catch up to Facebook's 750 million users. That may be where the games come in.

For Facebook, gaming makes them money but it also hooks users: You can only play FarmVille on one social networking site, and Facebook would like to keep it that way. "Before you get too excited, no, Google+ won’t have FarmVille or CityVille (those may be exclusive to Facebook via deal the two forged)," reports TechCrunch's MG Siegler. But Google might not need those big draws to put a dent in Facebook's fan base--they've thought out their gaming strategy.

Angry Birds. Okay, so you can't create a farming empire on Google+, but you can play another favorite: Angry Birds. Google will offer a whole host of fun non-Zynga games, explains Siegler. "Other popular games like Bejeweled Blitz are here as well."

Better for game developers. In fact, games on Google+ offers something fresh, the International Business Times points out. "The new games on Google+ will come as a new outlet for gamers and developers and will also let developers respond to Facebook after it was earlier learned that Facebook’s relationship with Zynga, the gaming industry leader, was complicated." Google has the chance to entice developers to their side, and if they succeed they could become the gaming spot, explains GigaOm's Ryan Kim.

Way less annoying for gamers. When you sign onto your favorite social network, you'd rather not see if Joe Shmoe's cows are doing well, but with Facebook it happens. Google+ has sequesters its games--in a good way, argues PCWorld's Jared Newman.

From this notice, it sounds like Google will relegate game-related updates to a separate feed, addressing a common Facebook complaint that no one cares whether you need donuts to feed hungry cops in Cityville. Facebook users have only limited control over game-related updates. If you see a post from a game you don't like, you can click "X" in the top-right corner and hide all posts from that app, but that method requires a lot of maintenance and isn't obvious to users.

One of Google+'s pluses is that it filters the noise better than Facebook. Gamers and non-gamers alike will appreciate the separation of games from the rest of the stream, continues Newman. "As Harry McCracken and other tech pundits have noted, one of the nice things about Google+ is how little noise there is compared to Facebook. Now there's a hint that it'll stay that way even after Google starts building games into the service."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.