The End of Google+ Games
To say that the Google+ Games program performed well under expectations would be an understatement. The near clone of the Facebook gaming experience launched in August 2011 and promptly fell off of the radar, seeing just a few dozen games released in total since launch. Last month, Google announced the closure of Google+ Games in favor of Google Play Games, its cross-platform game service that will support games across Android, iOS, and browsers.
Unfortunately, the few players that enjoyed playing games on the Google+ Games platform will be out of luck when the service shuts down on June 30. Google is encouraging its remaining users to contact game developers to determine whether another outlet will be available for continuing to play their favorite titles. Google will also scrap previous in-app purchases, and ignore requests for refunds.
According to Google’s support site, “[s]ome games will be migrating data to an alternative destination site where you can continue to use your unused payments. Other games are offering a grace period in which you can use any available credits before the game is shutdown. Contact the game developer for further information.”
It seems most developers decided to abandon Google+ Games just as quickly as the general public. Fan pages (if they actually exist) and even company websites contain seemingly no information about the forced closure(s) or what players can expect after the end of the month.
Zynga Customer Support has confirmed the closure of its five games on Google+: Pettington Park, CityVille, Mafia Wars 2, Empires & Allies, and Zynga Poker. Mafia Wars 2 and Empires & Allies ultimately failed on Facebook as well, marking the end of both of these brands at the end of the month.
While this closure of Google+ Games doesn’t really come as a shock, given the platform’s poor performance, Google itself is mostly to blame for the service’s disappointing showing. Games were completely separated from the rest of the Google+ experience, making them hard to find, and even harder to discover via traditional “viral” means. Unless players were specifically looking for posts about a particular game, they’d likely never see them. If games are so hidden from public view, then what’s the point?
That, ultimately, seems to be the biggest cause of the downfall of Google+ Games. It’s not that the games were bad, but rather that the entire platform wasn’t designed in such a way to make playing an enjoyable affair. Hopefully, Google has learned enough from this disappointment to make Google Play Games a much better service going forward, so that players don’t have to be left disappointed all over again.