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Is Google's Social Gaming Strategy a Facebook Killer?

Written by Terry Van Horne   
Monday, 30 August 2010 12:10

Google Vs Facebook?

Facebook Vs Google.meAfter I wrote Does Google & Verizon Framework Agreement Save Net Neutrality? I searched on Google for the phrase 'Eric Schmidt Social gaming' and got a very interesting result! We've said for weeks on RadioDojo that Google has a Social Gaming strategy in play. Why wouldn't they? Social gaming is what is driving the increased usage on Facebook. Smart phones are enjoying brisk growth and Google's Android flavor is at the head of the class.

Is Facebook Under Attack?...

Consider that Facebook are bragging they have Google's Social Strategy Product Documents. Well, if they do I think they are scared silly! Google announced release of their Places API recently and my quick read of it's docs led me to believe that a 'checkin' like functionality might be an easy addition ( love Google APIs). 

A pretty good indication of that would be the rumored Facebook office lockdown. Using the "borrowed" Places name for a 'checkin' privacy invading app is another indication the Social Giant is defending it's Social Kindom.

Facebook's 'hatOtherPlaces' app is actually kind of lame since it is only an iPhone or HTML5 supported platform. Google is creating "Microsoft like" control over phones with its' Android platform. Google's Android is the fastest growing platform out there adding 200,00 new phones a day. Those who are talking about Facebook's 500,000 users are clueless. Facebook's 'theOtherPlaces' is only in the US, second it has limited audience since it is an iPhone app that supports HTML 5. IMO a lot of chatter over what is really just a 1 trick pony pulling an iPhone cart.

Social Gaming is at a Tipping Point

Social Gaming is at a tipping point and everyone wants in! Mashable's post, interesting times in the social gaming industry, was a heads up as to the attention the Social Gaming space is getting from acquisitive companies. Late last year EA acquired Playfish ; two weeks ago Disney acquired Playdom and recently Google acquired Slide and Jambool.

In the space of 10 months two of the largest social game publishers have become part of larger companies. Google and Venture Partners continue to collect "components" for a Social Gaming Platform. Social gaming, as a category, is the dominant force behind Facebook and Google trading places as the top "destination" for people’s entertainment and Social Gaming growth is possibly a threat to all forms of online activity.

Estimates of Softbank’s investment in Zynga, the largest game developer and promoter, are at around $4 Billion. Although many companies might covet them they are more likely to go to Wall Str. because a "pure play" Social Gaming company would be easy to  take public during the current frenzy of acquisitions and mergers. The excerpt below from the July 10, 2010 GamesBeat post Google quietly invests more than $100M in Zynga and prepares Google Games launch (confirmed) by Dean Takahashi outlines the kind of Hybrid Gaming platform and destination I foresee.

The investment is on top of other deals that have brought Zynga almost $500 million in capital in the past year. The deal reportedly closed a month ago and is part of a strategic partnership still being negotiated. Google itself made the investment, not Google Ventures, and Zynga could be part of Google Games, a new platform launching later this year.

Google Games will be part of a larger social network that Google is launching to compete with Facebook. It will bring in users through all  Google’s different services. Hence, Google Games could become a very serious contender in the social game space in a short period of time, our source tells us.

Google's Recent Social Gaming Platform Investments

Google reportedly invested around $100-150 million into Zynga ( details of exact amounts are sketchy) this year as it prepares for a wide-reaching gaming initiative. Schmidt did not confirm the unannounced deal, but said, "you can expect a partnership with Zynga [in the future]."

These investments are being made through Google; Google Ventures and Eric Schmidt's Tomorrow Ventures.

  1. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt invested an undisclosed amount to launch Social Network Company -InternInc.com.
  2. TechCrunch reported in June of 2010 the Social Gaming Network raised $2 million in an initial investment by Google's CEO Eric Schmidt’s investment firm Tomorrow Ventures and Xing founder Lars Hinrichs. The Social Gaming Network built the games EXO-Planet Elite and Skies of Glory for the high quality multiplayer iPhone/iPod/iPad devices. SGN is soon to release its titles on Android devices.
  3. Google acquired Slide
  4. Jambool a virtual currency app.
  5.  Google Ventures the VC arm of the search giant, has made an investment in popular iPhone/iPad game developer ngmoco.

Google is investing almost a good potion of their profits back into acquiring these small Social and Gaming applications not just for their technology. Google covets the human engineering talent these companies have in building out Social and gaming platforms.

Destination or Mobile Platform Hybrid?

Google.Me

In April of 2010, Google hired longtime game industry veteran Mark DeLoura as developer advocate for games at the company. "In this time of great disruption in the game industry, there are a huge number of opportunities for developers," he said at the time. "It can be difficult for traditional games companies to navigate the new possibilities provided by mobile platforms, social networks, and alternative business models." Google ventures and other VC firms owned by principle Eric Schmidt have been buying up iPhone developers to get more exposure on that platform and port the iPhone games to Android,.

Google.me a Destination or a DOJ Decoy In the Mobile Market Hunt?

Late last week the Gypsy covered the announcement that Google Realtime Search Goes Vertical which included Twitter, Facebook/Friendfeed. This could also be used as search on Google.me. IMO, we're gonna' see the Google.me destination try to tie all your Google services, Twitter stream and Facebook acct. into a place to manage all these Social streams kinda' like Tweetdeck does now on your PC. Part of that will be the ability to also play your Zynga Facebook games and others on Google.me

Why is Google being careful about what they buy directly with their Mobile purchases? AdMob commands about half the Mobile ad market and Android is the leading OS so when you add that to their domination of search

Conclusions About the Google.me Facebook Killer

AAlthough it hasn't been confirmed that the Google.me destination is anything more than a discussion at the GooglePlex, however, IMO, Google.me will be a Social Gaming platform able to run on all devices running mainly over their and Verizon's network... look for it to hookup with Rodgers in Canada. #fingerscrossed

 

Comments  

 
0 # Searchengineman 2010-08-31 01:55
It's no big secret but Google must capture the gaming market.

Right now Google has to make as big a splash in the gaming sphere as possible (Tough crowd), Gaming is the only way Google can regain any social credibility.

Google's image (Engineers) IMHO is the opposite of gaming & the social web. I might invite Google as my lab partner, but I definitely am not going clubbing with him!

Word is not getting out about the value of Google Phones, Power Users and those who compare the specs vouch for them.

I think Google needs to market its phone apps in a more powerful way, as most of us are blinded by the iPad - iPhone 4.0 "Gotta Have it" hype.

After the Video's, Books and HD recording now what? It reminds me of computer effects circa 1985 when nobody seems to care that "Special Effects" can't rescue a crappy movie.

If Google is not careful and blows it. This will be a repeat of the VHS / BETA wars, where Google's better technology will be trumped by better marketing and spin and adoption of iPhones (Regardless of the technology quality).

Look up the QWERTY keyboard if you don't believe me.

Google needs the equivalent of a "Farmville" or "Starcraft" for its platform, to attract users.

Ultimately I think Google is planning to make its phone technology the "unique key identifier" to Desktop, TV and Entertainment and even offline shopping. But they are going to have to convince us to carry the damn things. If the Games suck, well maybe they should buy Vivid Entertainment!

Searchengineman
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0 # Rahul Batra 2010-11-03 11:21
Google should give more force towards social gaming, as many are moving ahead in this and so should Google be.
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