By Jared Newman | Monday, August 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm
Last week, Google launched its long-awaited online gaming portal as part of its budding social network, Google+.
Like Google+ itself, the big selling point for Games on Google+ is that it respects personal boundaries more than Facebook. Instead of dumping everyone’s game-related status updates into your main timeline, Google+ games are relegated to a separate tab, so your main timeline remains uncluttered.
The less intrusive approach to status updates may be a big lure for some people, but it’s not the hook Google+ games need. And with only 16 titles at launch (albeit with some big names like Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz and Zynga Poker), Google’s social gaming service isn’t catching up to Facebook anytime soon.
To become a big hit, Google+ gaming needs exactly the same thing as Google+: It must integrate with other Google products — in this case, Android and Chrome — instead of acting like a standalone service.
Right now, there’s no consistent social fabric woven into Android or the Chrome Web Store. Some apps, like Zynga Poker for Android, use Facebook to find other players. Others, like OpenFeint, have created their own networks with the option to add friends from Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy to imagine Google+ becoming the official social network for gaming on Android and Chrome, in the same way that Apple’s Game Center is the main way to connect with other iPhone gamers. And unlike Game Center, Google+ is a true social network, formed by people who actually know each other.
This parallels nicely with Google+, which could go mainstream if Google injects social circles into YouTube, Picasa, Google Docs and Google Search. These are products that people already use, and that would benefit from a social layer. The same is true for gaming on Android and in Chrome.