Google confirms that they are shutting down G+ in August of 2019. I can’t say I’m surprised. Although they make mention of an obscure security issue, the real reason is that no one really uses G+, and when they do, they are on the site for a very short time. Obviously the greater OSR community is an exception, but not one big enough to change the stats. So if you read between the lines, G+ doesn’t make any money for Google in advertising, so they are transitioning it to a business offering.
I’m not really that upset about this. I’ve talked before about the problems with G+, it’s communities are a poor substitute for forums (and now my mention of how ephemeral G+ discussions are takes on new meaning, as communities fall off the internet for good). Who has the most to lose? I’d say the small-press OSR publishers, who rely on G+ to get word out about their new products. They’ll need to switch to some other platform – their own blog, or social media like Facebook or Twitter. It used to be common for small publishers to have their own sub-boards on OSR forums, maybe that will become more prevalent again. Also, gaming groups (including my own) use G+ to schedule games, this was one of the few things G+ was actually good at, especially when you wanted to run a hangout game. My own hope is that forums once again become public hubs for the various branches of the OSR community.
Update: It seems the OSR community decided fairly quickly to migrate to MeWe. While it seems to be comparable to G+ in many ways (better in some, worse in others), it is a walled garden – in other words, you need to have an account to see posts, and nothing is indexed via the public search engines. You also can’t browse group content unless you join a group (even supposedly ‘open’ groups), a big negative in my book. For all of Google+’s faults, you did not need to have a google account to browse a public G+ group. It was truly public. MeWe is a relatively new social networking site, so it’s possible things will change, but for now I have to say moving there was a step backwards for the OSR.