Talking tech since 2003

If you’re a long-time Facebook user I’m sure that you still remember the “good old days” when Facebook “applications” had a huge tendency to cause frustration right and left because of the horrid levels of spam that would get passed onto the end-users.  While I for one was a pretty big Facebook fan at the time, even I became incredibly frustrated with the applications that were taking advantage of Facebook’s application feature to do nothing more than spread spam.  Even when Facebook stepped up and removed many of the applications that were designed for pure malicious annoyance, even the more “innocent” applications – predominantly games – began to prove annoying as well.  Farmville and Mafia Wars were probably two of the most annoying out there, and I for one grew somewhat annoyed at the number of requests I would get to fertilize my friend’s eggs or whack my classmate’s cousin.

There even came a point where I stopped logging into Facebook as often simply because I was sick and tired of being bombarded with what I felt was pure spam every single time that I logged in.  Fortunately there were enough users like me out there who became just as frustrated with the application notifications as I was, and eventually Facebook pulled the plug on the traditional application notification systems and shoved applications and games onto a sidebar, freeing up space for the news feed.

But as much as I hated Facebook games, I must admit that they became incredibly popular among a great many Facebook users.  I mean, really, games on Facebook got to the point where they became so popular that they actually got annoying.  There were even cases of users getting “addicted” to games like Farmville.  That’s how bad it was.

While the rational part of me sees a problem with this, the technology and business follower in me saw (and continues to see) social media games as a huge potential to make boatloads of profit.  Just look at Zynga, the company behind many of Facebook’s more popular game.  By way of premium add-ons and paid credits the company was able to refine the popularity of their games into a stronger bottom-line for their business.  Even Facebook came to get part of the action, taking a 30% cut off of all in-game purchases.

This week Google+, Google’s up and coming social network, has begun implementing a game system into its platform as well.  However, unlike Facebook Google+ is handling games the right way from the start, and is arguably doing it better than even current-day Facebook is.

You see, the games system in Google+ is on its own page and is completely isolated from the main timeline.  In my opinion, this works out best for both the game players and people like myself who would rather stay away from games altogether.  This is because the implementation of a tab/page means that games aren’t forced upon the end-user (even in the sidebar where they’re still visible, as Facebook does it), and the users who actually play and enjoy games get a space dedicated to games.  Really, it’s the best of both worlds, and I think that everyone should be pretty content with this implementation.

And unlike the Android platform that Google is still struggling to attract developers with, the company has managed to make their platform all the more compelling to developers.  How?  Unlike Facebook that takes a 30% cut from in-game purchases, Google is only going to take 5% from developer sales.  Combine this with the relative fast take-off that we’re seeing with Google+ by users who have simply wanted to use something other than Facebook and developers are being offered an excellent deal; a vast user-base and more money in their own pockets.

Of course this ultimately helps Google too, because by attracting developers Google+ is poised for great success because the addition of games, and quite possibly more “functional” third-party apps down the road, will help make all of the amenities of Facebook available on Google+.  And quite ultimately, I think this will make users more willing to switch over.

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