Casual Games Leave Google+
It has been difficult if not impossible to get a handle on how much Google+ is actually growing, and how deeply it has engaged its user base, for the simple reason that Google only provides selected usage stats -- essentially, the total membership and a few other less-than-dispositive quantifiers. However other data, from sources like comScore, suggests that users aren’t spending much time on Google+, while data from RJ Metrics seems to show abysmally low rates of posting and related activity.
But a more reliable, and damning, indicator may be the decision of casual games makers to pull their products from Google+, presumably because they’re not getting any traction on the site. According to The Social Games Observer, casual game maker Wooga has taken down Monster World, soon to be followed by Bubble Island and Diamond Dash. Meanwhile PopCap is axing Bejeweled Blitz on Google+ effective Monday.
AllThingsD quotes a Wooga spokesperson as saying “We decided to remove certain games from Google+ because we have a much larger following on Facebook and they are active users,” which pretty much sums it up. Whatever its total membership base, Google+ is not generating significant engagement -- at least through casual games.
I suppose Google could plausibly argue that just because casual games aren’t taking off on Google+ doesn’t mean that the service overall isn’t succeeding. But this would be an interesting and unexpected reversal, considering that Google -- modeling its strategy on Facebook’s success -- originally touted partnerships with casual game makers as a key element of its plan to drive traffic and engagement with Google+.
This strategy always looked dubious, as casual games on Facebook only took off after it built a large and engaged user base -- not vice versa. This is especially true, for obvious reasons, for casual games with a social component: how are you going to get people to play games on your site when there’s no one else to play with?