Let the Games Continue: Facebook vs. Google+ Battle on over Online Gaming Supremacy

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In the history of video games, there are plenty of great rivalries: Mario vs. Donkey Kong; Metroid vs. Mother Brain; Little Mac vs. King Hippo. But the in-game rivalries have paled in comparison to battles between the real world companies who produce the games. Who can forget Sega’s bold proclamation, “Genesis does what Ninten-don’t?”

As reported earlier on TechZone360, the rivalry between Facebook and Google+ over the largest piece of the online gaming pie is developing into a rivalry of Mega Man vs. Dr. Wily intensity. Ever since the first inklings of the Google+ game stream came to the forefront, the battle has been shaping up. So, what is the status of the great war now?

Google+, with its approximately 25 million users and array of 16 games (including such popular fare as Angry Birds and Bejeweled Blitz), has decided to give game developers a larger slice of the revenue pie. However, the nearly 800 million users of Facebook still remain a more promising audience for those same developers.

So creators need to make a decision. Do they opt for Facebook, with a larger audience and a policy of taking 30 percent of gaming revenue? Or do they work with Google, which will take only 5 percent, has a much smaller current pool of users but boasts the Google-like potential to grow exponentially?

At the very least, Google+ is an alternative for developers who are concerned that Facebook may change their policies overnight. Though some analysts feel that the new site has more potential than other endeavors such as Buzz, it has not proven itself as a go-to destination for online gaming.

In fact, Google+ has yet to unveil a game that really pushes the envelope of creativity, and in order to compete with Facebook or even the new PlayStation Home social gaming site, Google must be bold and innovative.

As Andrew Van Luchene, social gaming patent expert, pointed out, there is a lot of revenue potential in social gaming, but developers cannot merely sit on their laurels. “So now you have this social gaming layer and you are starting to layer in all the complexity that was in games before, like World of Warcraft, and you’re teaching the non-gamer playing base how to play more sophisticated games.” In doing so, sites will be able to unlock new revenue streams. “Virtual currency now has a real world value, which means that all the financial structures that exist in the real world could exist in the game if they are implemented correctly.”

In the end, the competition between Google+ and Facebook should be a boon both to gamers, who can expect richer, more diverse content, and developers, who can now shop their games around to the highest bidder. After all, Mario is a lot more interesting if he has Donkey Kong or Bowser to go up against. Otherwise, he’s stuck putting around in Nintendo Golf or refereeing a match in Punch-Out…

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Rich Steeves is a TechZone360 copy editor. He taught writing for nine years. He has also worked as an editorial assistant at Penny Publications. He has written short stories, newspaper columns, blogs and recently published his first novel. He attended The George Washington University where he received his bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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