Tag Archives | social networks

Google+ Games Needs New Ideas, Not Facebook’s Leftovers

At first glance, CityVille’s arrival on Google+ seems like good news for the social network. CityVille is Zynga’s most popular game on Facebook, and among the 18 titles currently on Google+ Games, it’s a standout alongside Angry Birds and Bejeweled Blitz.

But with CityVille, Google+ Games is no more exciting than it was last week. The game already launched on Facebook nine months ago, so unless you’ve got some grudge against Facebook and have been holding out all this time, CityVille+ doesn’t offer anything new.

Google may not realize this because it’s new to gaming, but it won’t get anywhere by pursuing Facebook’s leftovers. What it really needs–as any new gaming platform throughout history has needed–is a killer exclusive. Something that everyone wants, but no other platform has. The social network’s equivalent to Super Mario Bros., Halo or Uncharted. A system seller.

I have a feeling this game won’t come from Zynga, a publisher whose biggest innovations in social gaming are behind it, and whose main interest will continue to be in Facebook as long as that’s where the users are. For that matter, no major social game publisher is likely to create the killer exclusive that Google+ Games really needs.

But somewhere, there’s a developer with amazing ideas that could innovate social gaming in unforeseen ways. Maybe it’s an industry veteran-turned-indie game maker, or a small developer that lacks the resources to pursue its vision, or an up-and-coming studio like Mojang. In any case, Google needs to be on the hunt for this developer, and this idea, if the company is at all serious about gaming on Google+. The platform doesn’t need CityVille. It needs the next FarmVille–figuratively, of course.


What Was Facebook’s Best Redesign, Anyway?

Over at PCWorld, I had fun looking back at the fruitless nature of Facebook redesign backlash. No one is surprised anymore when a redesigned Facebook home page–such as the one that rolled out today–causes an outrage.

But that made me wonder: what design, exactly, do people want? Was there ever a single home page layout to which Facebook users, given the choice, would happily revert? In other words, have we cooked up in our minds some ideal vision of an “old Facebook” that never really existed?

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Google+ Goes Beta, Makes Hangouts the Star Attraction

Google+ has shed its invite-only status, and is now open to all in public beta. That’d be a bigger deal if the service wasn’t already open to anyone with a Google account, and if existing members didn’t each have 150 additional invites to hand out.

The real news here is about Google+ Hangouts, which began as a 10-way video calling service but is now showing grander aspirations.

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My Favorite Google+ Feature: It Pesters

I haven’t spent a lot of time with Google’s new social networking project, Google +, but little by little, it’s drawing me back. That’s not because of the dozen or so people I’m following, or because of the promising 10-way video chat, or even because of the new approach to privacy that makes you sort contacts into groups.

No, my attraction to Google+ lies mostly in the fact that it won’t go away. Every time I run a Google search or check my Gmail, Google+ lurks in the top right corner of the screen, alerting me to new activity and letting me post status updates. The bare essentials of Google+ are embedded in every service that Google offers.

This might sound a little odd, but I like the fact that Google+ bothers me.

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Facebook Users Are Unhappy With Facebook, Survey Says

What do Facebook, cable companies, airlines and online tax returns have in common? They’re all about as likely to displease their customers.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, conducted by the University of Michigan’s business school, this year included social networks for the first time. Wikipedia and YouTube escaped with decent ratings — 77 points and 73 points out of 100, respectively — but Facebook fared poorly with 64 points. That puts the world’s most visited website in the bottom 5 percent of private sector companies in the survey.

Survey participants knocked Facebook’s endless interface tweaks, spam and the technology that controls news feeds, the Wall Street Journal reports. They were only somewhat concerned with privacy even though it was a hot topic a couple months ago, and they also named increased advertising as a source of dissatisfaction.

Interestingly enough, MySpace performed just about as poorly, with 63 points. MySpace has been losing unique monthly visitors for a couple of years, to the point that Facebook gets roughly double the traffic, according to comScore. I’d say that’s a cautionary tale for Facebook, except that MySpace’s rapid decay had as much to with competition from Facebook as general user dissatisfaction. At this point, Facebook’s worst enemy is itself.

There’s some evidence that the rate of Facebook sign-ups is slowing down, but only in the short-term. And an informal survey of Technologizer readers shows enough dissatisfaction that people are willing to pack up and leave the service. But where are those people going to go?  Facebook can be replaced to some degree with a mish-mash of other services, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr. Even so, those services won’t be comparable unless you can convince everyone to come with you.

Without an all-encompassing service that provides more satisfaction, Facebook can rest easy while it figures out how to better please its users. As Facebook spokesman Jonny Thaw stated to the Wall Street Journal, “We look forward to the next survey.”

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Real's GameHouse Builds a Social-Gaming Platform

GameHouse–the casual gaming arm of RealNetworks that’s been around under one name or another for a decade–is trying to respond in a big way to the rise of social games, virtual gifts, the Facebook platform, and other trends reflected in wildly popular games such as FarmVille. At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, it’s launching a platform of its own it calls GameHouse Fusion–a set of services designed to help game developers bake social features into their products. They include everything from simple social stuff like leaderboards to special trophies gamers can create themselves; virtual goods; hosting and ad-sales services; and more. And they’re designed for browser-based games (including ones built for both the Facebook and OpenSocial platforms), downloadable ones, and ones for the iPhone and other mobile phones.

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5Words for Tuesday, August 4th 2009


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Rid your Twitter of spammers.

Apple vs. Palm: it’s war.

Military members get Google Voice.

Obama’s cybersecurity czar steps down.

Toshiba packs 64GB into SD.

Hey, let’s kill off IE6!

ARM-based netbooks coming soon.

More shots of Zune HD.

Rumor: Apple building PayPal killer.

INQ smartphones have Twitter, iTunes.

Forget netbooks–“smartbooks” are coming!