Watching Google+ grow is like watching the faltering steps of a young child, albeit a billion dollar funded child who’s been amped and tuned for 12 months before taking the first steps. Its clear G+ is currently a haven for nerds, geeks, ex-hipsters and creative people super charging a new social idiom. It’s exciting. In three weeks I’ve encountered more interesting people, learnt more and seen more amazing things that I ever did on Facebook. People on G+ are ebullient, throwing around animated GIFs like they are candy at Carnival, there’s a playfulness on G+
However, there are no games. Yet.
In recent days a trend has emerged for polls based on simple options. Baby Steps. Over the coming weeks the collective mass imagination is surely capable of something spectacular. Rumours abound about the evolution of Google+ as a games platform, the news being greeted with trepidation more than excitement. Seems G+ users aren’t ready to unpack the virtual spades and start virtual farming just yet. The 600 million drones on Facebook, seem less discerning that the 23 million on G+. Facebook = Hive Mind. When the news broke a couple of days ago my stream flooded with Digital Refuseniks, repelling the idea as if they were the barbarians at the gate. I can see why.
Facebook gaming went from novelty to blight overnight whilst creating social gaming supernovas. Typified by one note gaming experiences that defined and confined their audiences.
Stolen ideas and archaic RPG grind mechanics underpinned an insidious micro-payment model, that gave birth to new kinds of language and metrics. For traditional publishers the lunatics had taken over the asylum, they were broadsided.
It’s common knowledge that Google invested $100 Million in Zynga. Zynga are a creative locust laying bare the ideas and imagination of 30 years of game design that came before them, dumbed down ultra-tutorialised games are more concerned with effective on boarding than rewarding or engaging the player, beyond virtual crop harvests or meaningless virtual currency. It’s a third-rate gaming experience. If you think, I’m being sniffy. Hell yeah. I’ve spent three-quarters of my life watching games start to fulfill their potential. Zynga razes that notion to the ground.
The giants of the social gaming world are circling G+, enticed by lower revenue shares and another channel to augment Facebook. The Chrome App store hints at whats to come, despite being an underperforming vanguard of creative apps for many months, its starting to show worrying signs of future direction:
Angry Birds is the First Horseman of the Gaming Apocalypse and has north of 1 million users on Chrome. Banality infecting another host. The video gaming equivalent of ‘Outbreak’ (minus Dustin Hoffman)
G+ has the chance to revolutionise social gaming and rescue it from a disastrous gestation period on Facebook. G+ has the potential to deliver meaningful, intelligent and profound social gaming experiences powered by limitless community imagination. Imagine G+ introducing experiences comparable to Heavy Rain. Imagine G+ games powered by imagination not commerce. Imagine if G+ could resist the temptation to pollute and dilute under the auspice of ‘entertainment’. I fear not.
The locusts are coming. It’s time to weather the storm.