A Pair of New Social Games: Google+ Captures Pirates, Facebook Takes EA’s Risk

Google is launching a new social game today on Google+, the third title to launch exclusively on its social network. Meantime, Electronic Arts also rolled out a new title today on Facebook that represents a follow-up to its big hit The Sims Social.

The two independent moves illustrate how quickly the social games industry evolves.

Rather than tell the stories separately, here’s an overall look at how Google plans to chip away at Facebook’s dominance as a platform, and how EA is challenging Zynga as the top social game maker.

Google said this morning that its third exclusive game has launched on Google+, meaning that it will have the game before any other social network for the next 30 days. The other two were Rovio’s Angry Birds and Kabam’s The Godfather.

The new game, Pirates: Tides of Fortune, was created by Israeli developer Plarium.

The game has a city-building theme, where you must build rum distilleries, lumber yards and gold mines so you can build ships and defend yourself. A fun twist is that the game can be set to speak to you in Pirate or English, French, German, Spanish or Russian.

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts, the second-largest social game maker on Facebook behind Zynga, is following up the successful launch of The Sims Social with a Hasbro game title, Risk: Factions.

Instead of replicating the board game or console version of the game, EA says it has added a plot. Players must pick a faction, either the Humans, led by General William P. McGutterpants; an army of fearless Cats led by the honorable Generalissimo Meow; or a militia of brain-starved Zombies led by the cadaverous Colonel Stiffenberg.

Each develops special weapons, which give each faction a different strategy, and then players get to attack one another by rolling the dice. Players can also develop their military base to build up their troops and construct factories to produce weapons.

Some social games companies are opting to offer Google an exclusive because the search company says it will help promote the game. Also, although Google+ has a smaller network of users, it takes a smaller cut of the revenues — 5 percent compared to Facebook’s 30 percent — so it’s possible any revenue difference can equal out.

Still, Facebook has the larger gaming presence, totaling around 200 million users worldwide. At this point, it isn’t worth mentioning that it has gained a new exclusive, either.

Zynga easily tops the social games charts, but Electronic Arts is slowly creeping up through a combination of acquisitions and games based on well-known brands.

At one time, The Sims Social was close to toppling Zynga’s CityVille game as the largest game on Facebook, but it has since slipped in the rankings, trailing behind several other Zynga titles, according to AppData.

EA has launched other Hasbro titles on Facebook, including Scrabble and Monopoly Millionaires, but neither became an overnight hit. Its second-most popular game is Bejeweled, which it gained through its acquisition of PopCap in July.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work