Game Developers Already Abandoning Google’s Social Network

It has been less than a year since Google launched social gaming on the Google+ network, but already some developers are calling it quits.

Wooga has confirmed that Monster World has already been taken down and that more titles are on their way off. PopCap, a division of Electronic Arts, also confirmed that Bejeweled Blitz will be offline starting on Monday.

This is not a good sign for Google, given that Wooga and EA represent the fourth- and third-largest social game companies on Facebook, respectively.

Originally, developers considered Google+ as a way to diversify beyond the Facebook platform, but 10 months later, it doesn’t appear that Google is pulling in enough users to justify supporting it.

“We decided to remove certain games from Google+ because we have a much larger following on Facebook and they are active users,” said a Wooga customer care representative, who responded to an email sent to Wooga’s PR team. A PopCap spokesperson was a little more diplomatic: “PopCap has decided to suspend Bejeweled Blitz on Google+ to redeploy our resources to other adaptations of Bejeweled. Certainly, Google is a valuable gaming partner for PopCap and EA, and we’ll continue to develop for Google platforms.”

A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

The Social Games Observer first reported that Wooga was preparing to pull its games off the network, adding that it also has plans to cut Bubble Island and Diamond Dash on July 1.

Google also hasn’t opened up the platform to just any developer. Between Wooga and EA’s decisions to pull some games, there will be 40 remaining, which is still up from the 36 games it had in February. Plus, many other big name games remain, including Rovio’s Angry Birds, Disney’s Gardens of Time and Zynga’s CityVille, Poker and Mafia Wars 2.

After the game platform launched, Google+ received a lot of attention from game developers, in part because they were looking for somewhere else to go besides Facebook, but also because the company was sharing 95 percent of the revenue from virtual goods with developers, and was keeping only 5 percent for itself. That was, and remains, much more generous than the 30 percent cut that Facebook takes.

In the beginning, Google announced several exclusive game deals, but still, the fact remains that Google+ has far fewer users (however you want to calculate it) than Facebook.

Back in February, when I chatted with Punit Soni, who runs games and mobile for Google+, he was honest about how far they still have to go. He was also extremely enthusiastic, and at times looked as if he wanted to leap out of his chair to get going right away on projects Google had planned. First and foremost, he said, they are working hard to get virality right; and second, they want to nail cross-platform, so that games work seamlessly across the Web and mobile.

At the time, Soni wasn’t willing to spill specific plans about what was launching next, but said a lot more is coming. “We are a start-up platform. We are humble and know our flaws,” he said.

Now we all know at least one of them.

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