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Google: Games can ruin online communities

Google+ engineering director warns against rushing games onto social networks

Google is taking a cautious approach to introducing games to its Google+ social network, Venturebeat reports.

In a presentation at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, Google+ engineering director David Glazer explained that the company's strategy is informed by mistakes made in other online communities.

"We've seen communities ruined by games," he said. "How do we find that balance between people who are interested in games... without having the problem of more spam?"

Lift the slender veil and it's clear that Glazer is referring to Facebook, which has become increasingly reliant on the revenue generated by social gaming companies like Zynga.

Indeed, according to Facebook's recent IPO filing, Zynga accounted for 12 per cent of the company's total revenue in 2011.

However, despite the enormous popularity of Facebook as a gaming platform, Glazer claims that Google's research indicated equally strong user demand to restrict activity to chat, comment and sharing.

"We saw equal amounts of anticipation and... people who hoped we never allowed games on Google+," he said.

Google+ has "no more than several dozen" games, and a limited number of APIs for the developers with which the company chooses to work.

Glazer insisted that more APIs are coming and more third-party developers will be given access, but Google is still refining the platform to eradicate spam and allow users to control the spread of social games.

"What we're trying to mostly do is put control in the hands of users," he said. "First and foremost, you choose your audience."

In October last year, a Google engineer published a critique of the company's strategy for Google+, calling it a "knee-jerk reaction." The following month, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg suggested that Google's ultimate goal was to "build their own Facebook."

According to data released in January, Google+ now has 90 million users worldwide, with 60 per cent of that number active on a daily basis, and 80 per cent active on a weekly basis.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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