Still Plan, The social games Google debut

Sunday, July 31st 2011. | Internet News

The Silicon Valley search giant has approached developers to put their games on Google’s new social networking service Google+, according to people knowledgeable about Google’s plans who did not want to be identified because of confidentiality agreements. The plans, reported last week by technology blog AllThingsD, could be announced as early as next month, they said.

Google is trying to counter Facebook Inc., which is competing with the Internet search giant for eyeballs and advertising dollars. An investor in San Francisco social gaming company Zynga Inc., Google aims to keep Facebook from dominating the lucrative market for social games, which has become a major revenue stream for the world’s most popular social network.

Google+ is Google’s most aggressive effort yet to crack the evolution of the Web from a place that connects people to information into a place that connects them to one another. It has amassed 20 million users in three weeks, according to research firm ComScore Inc. Adding social games could liven up Google+, which has far fewer users than Facebook’s 750 million-plus and fewer bells and whistles. Google+ requires an invitation.

The market for social games in the U.S., which reached $1 billion last year, is projected to reach $5 billion by 2015, said Pietro Macchiarella, a game analyst with market research company Parks Associates. Much of the revenue comes from games played on Facebook. Facebook requires makers of applications on its platform to pay 30 percent of revenue collected from selling virtual items on the network. One way Google could compete is by offering to take a smaller portion of game publishers’ revenue.

About 250 million people play social games, but only about 2 percent to 3 percent of them spend money on virtual items or power-ups that enable players to advance faster in those games.

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