I analysed the Google Assistant games directory. Here’s what I found.

Marek Miś
Jan 9 · 7 min read
Hey Google, let’s play a game!
Hey Google, let’s play a game!

Thinking about new ideas for a game for Google Assistant, I conducted a little research on the quality of games, currently available to users. All Actions on Google (voice apps, usually triggered by saying “Hey Google, talk to…”) can be found in this directory.

Hint: there’s a FREE download available at the end of this article.

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Access Actions directory on your smartphone by tapping the compass icon.

The Google Assistant directory provides a list of available Actions, with user rating, number of reviews, author of Action and some standard information like description, icons etc. There’s no data regarding actual usage… So for now, the combination of score and number of reviews must be sufficient enough to assess the quality of Actions. Problem is that there are no filters and no sorting options, which makes the directory really hard to use.

Web-scraper to the rescue

After a few hours coding, I was equipped with a tool which allowed me to download the required data from the Games and Fun section of the directory (same exercise can be done for any other section). After filtering the duplicates, I began my research. Here’s what I found.

Data at a glance

It means that:

44% of games in Google Assistant directory have no ratings at all.

That’s actually not that bad, compared to Alexa, where 70% of skills (all skills) have no ratings at all (Dashbot.io, July 2019, link here).

Google is in the mix

So what have we got after filtering Google’s productions and sorting by the number of reviews?

  1. Mobile Legends by Moonton — 8139 reviews
  2. Best Dad Jokes by Brad Abrams (Group Product Manager, but ok, perhaps it’s a personal pet project) — 3510 reviews
  3. Akinator by Elokence — 2980 reviews
  4. Song quiz by Volley — 1459 reviews
  5. Beatbox by no author (but it’s another integrated Action, so I assume it’s Google) — 936 reviews
  6. Did Thanos Kill Me by akshay2000–872 reviews
  7. Harry Potter Jokes by no author — 847 reviews
  8. Bible Verse of the Day by Peter Friese — 777 reviews
  9. Fortnite Place Dropper by Fortnite Place Dropper — 600 reviews
  10. TrumpTime by no author — 416

Personal review of the 10 most rated actions

How to find the hidden gems

Then, for each individual rating, I picked 2 actions with the biggest number of reviews. I set min. rating to 3.0. I ended up with a list of 42 Actions.

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Funny enough, I found my own Action called Word Chain on position #23. I promise, it’s totally coincidental that it got to the list 😉

But since I already mentioned it, you may as well give it a try.
Just say: “Hey Google, talk to Word Chain”.
There’s a Premium version available to unlock for a small one-time fee — giving you access to some extra features.

Findings — the bad

Quizzes, so many quizzes

A newbie user of Google Home after discovering a quiz, may be delighted with the experience. But users get bored quickly. Same format, and same or very similar sounds found across all quizzes are really disappointing.

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“Hey Google, talk to Best Dad Jokes”

Is that a joke?

Findings — the good

Hey Google, talk to Song Quiz

Hey Google, talk to Dustin from Stranger Things

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“Hey Google, talk to Dustin from Stranger Things”

Bonus 1: Hey Google, talk to Common Sense

Concept can be scaled up to return some average values per country or language… There’s definitely some potential there.

Conclusions

Quality of voice-first games is hard to measure. When it comes to experiences strongly relying on users’ imagination, every detail matters: sounds, actor voice, content, length of individual conversation parts…

Concepts recalling memories or those of familiar or easy to follow structure seem to be a safe bet among developers.

It’s worth remembering that the entire Google Assistant ecosystem is still in its infancy. Both Google and Amazon are trying their best to encourage developers to take their first steps in Actions and Skills development — which results in crowded directories of not-so-great apps.

I’m sure this will change with time. User discoverability and promotion of valuable experiences are currently some of the biggest problems for all tech giants taking their part in this virtual assistants race, but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. And for that reason, we developers should strive to create original and sophisticated experiences at all times.

Bonus 2 — FREE download


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