Thursday, July 28, 2011

Google+, the "IT'S BETA!" argument

I suspect us MMOG players will understand Google+'s current fiasco better than most.  After all, GOOGLE PLUS IS STILL IN BETA and just like an MMOG in beta, not all features are going to be there on beta day one and not all promises are going to come to fruition.  This is why most MMOG betas have strict non-disclosure agreements and why MMO bloggers are always screaming "IT'S BETA!".  Google+ doesn't have the NDA luxury currently and the successful launch is quickly turning into a public relations mess.  However, I am willing to give Google+ the benefit of the doubt and I for one am willing to buy the "IT'S BETA!" argument. 
My own Heartless_ Gamer Google+ account was deleted in the name clean up.  In fact, I totally missed the whole "real name" requirement of Google+ and had assumed anonymous and pseudonym use was going to be allowed.  Unfortunately, that is not the case (yet!). 
Google has stated "brand" and "business" accounts are coming.  What they will feature is unknown, so I'm undetermined at this point whether Heartless_ Gamer will exist on Google+.  Hopefully, the brand/business accounts will allow me to operate on Google+ the same as a regular user would with a more of a “webpage” front end for “visitors” to my stream.
A Circular Examination
I really like the Google+ "Circles" which allow contacts to be divided into multiple groups which can be assigned to view content I post.  As a games blogger, with a lot of gamer contacts, I would love to slice and dice them up into different groups.  I could socially tag my content and share it with those I think it is most relevant to.  If I write up a post about Civilization 5, I could share it with my Civ circle and spare my Battlefield group the reading time.
There is a lot of potential in Circles and what we have now in the beta is not guaranteed to be what the final version of Circles will be in Google+.  There was a lot of potential in Hero classes for World of Warcraft, but the idea was nipped during beta.  There was a lot of potential for six capital cities in Warhammer Online, but that as well was trimmed down in beta.  Not everything survives beta.
Circles equate to any feature from any MMOG.  In Google+’s case, Circles are a selling point and are there on day one of the beta.  They may change or may even get pulled.  We don’t know, but through beta testing Google will determine their place and Google+ ends up better because of testing Circles, then we should all say “that’s what beta’s are for”.
And that IS what beta’s are for: improving the end result.  This doesn’t always happen and not every beta is the same (some are marketing stunts).   If we are going to say “that’s what beta’s are for” when they go right, then we need to buy the “IT’S BETA!” argument when the sailing isn’t smooth.  Right now, “IT’S BETA!” is a valid argument for Google+.  Google just better be done with the five year beta cycle.
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