NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) began rolling out a set of games for Google+ on Thursday, including some popular titles like Angry Birds, Bejeweled and Flood It, in an effort to enhance the social network’s user experience, but computer games may not be the saving grace that Google+ needs right now.
When Google+ first launched in June, many questioned whether it would prove popular enough to overtake Facebook (or at least cut into its user base) or flop and become the next Buzz, Google’s previous failed social networking attempt. Now, nearly two months later, the site seems positioned for neither fate.
Some 25 million users have already signed up for the service, making Google+ the fastest growing social network in history and anything but a flop, yet after the first few weeks, its traffic experienced a decline as users spent less time on the site, likely letting the employees at Facebook breathe a little easier.
No, the most likely outcome at the moment for Google+ is not that it turns into Facebook or Buzz, but that it ends up like Twitter, a site with an impressive user base that numbers in tens of millions, but in which most content is produced and read by a much smaller group of active users. This is arguably the biggest risk for Google+ going forward – that it becomes a place where a few enthusiasts (early adopters, techies, news junkies) post regularly, while casual users only check in every few days or weeks and otherwise hang out on Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s questionable whether adding games to the site will fix this problem.
“[S]haring is about more than just conversations,” one of Google’s engineers wrote on the company blog announcing the new games. “The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.”