Google enabled Games on my Google+ account while I was sleeping and I thought it would be a nice idea to review what Google+ Games has to offer on Game Saturday. Let me give you a short Google+ introduction before I take a closer look at the games on offer.
Google+ is Google's attempt to enter the social networking space. It is an invite only system at the moment that concentrates on communication and interaction with other members. Probably the most talked about feature of Google+ is circles, which can be used to group users. This improves the filtering options on Google+ significantly. You can send messages to a specific circle for instance, or look at the news stream of a circle.
Games in Google+ has been announced on Friday. It is Google's next step to compete with Facebook. Games on the social networking site on the other hand means that it will be more "like" Facebook as well.
There are fundamental differences on the other hand that deserve to be mentioned. Game notifications and invites are for instance only displayed on the games page (in the games stream) and not on the main stream page. This removes the gaming noise from the main news streams.
Google+ Games features 16 different games at this time, of which at least one is a beta game. Games include Angry Birds, City of Wonder or Bejeweled Blitz, which are all available on Facebook as well. Only one game (Flood It) of the 16 available games is not available on Facebook as well.
A click on a game opens an intermediary page that explains that games in Google+ are social, which basically means that contacts may see gaming notifications.
Some games, like Bejeweled Blitz, demand access to your email address, while all that I checked demand access to an ordered list of people from a user's circles (which interestingly enough is not available to the account owner, the sorted part I mean).
The games do not run in a popup but on the Google+ page directly.
Some games, like Angry Birds, display game scores of your contacts in the game interface (next to beat) which can be both a rewarding but also humiliating experience.
There does not seem to be an option right now to revoke the game permissions again, nor an option to remove high score and other personal information. I would have expected the information to be listed under Profile and privacy, but there is no games (or apps) listing there currently.
Games as of now offer a limited experience, especially since the vast majority of them are also playable on Facebook. The lack of privacy and permission controls on the other hand is serious and needs to be addressed by Google as soon as possible.
I have also received reports that some users have problems playing games at all, for instance when using Chrome Dev versions (game loading freezes).
The inclusion of games moves Google+ from a conversational platform to a more general platform. This could alienate part of the professional tech orientated user base, even though it is easy enough to ignore the games button at the top.
Have you tried Google+ games yet? What is your impression so far?
Update: Google+ users can revoke game permissions on the Authorized Access to your Google Account page.
A click on Revoke Access next to a game listed there revokes all permissions that you have given the game during setup.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.