In June 2011, a reference to “Google+ Games” appeared the fledgling social network’s code, suggesting Google would strike at Facebook’ gaming cash cow.
Fast forward to today, a Google+ Games icon began showing up in a number of users’ profiles. The Google+ team is rolling out a few early previews to a small group to test out the new service.
The Google+ games project is launching with 16 new games, including titles from Playdom (City of Wonder), Rovio (Angry Birds), and Zynga (Zynga Poker). Here’s a screenshot form the google blog listing the initial game offerings:
The significance? Facebook levies a fee of 30 cents out of each Dollar for games on its platform. Google’s proposed cut is a measly 5 cents, which strikes directly at Facebook’s cash cow. According to an analyst at Privco’s, Facebook relies on gaming for over a third of its revenues. Since fiscal 2011 revenues stand at 3.8 billion, we’re looking at a 1.25 billion Dollar salvo launched at the Palo Alto social network. The move likely draws a collective cheer from game developers and consumer advocates, who’ve railed against Facebook’s rather large revenue share. This was a market itching for competition.
If I were to guess at what’s next, I’d say Facebook will adopt a wait and see attitude, and drop its revenue share rates if Google begins to make serious inroads into casual gaming. I’d also bet we’ll see the impact of Google+ games on Facebook’s mammoth revenues in short order, one way or another. But the biggest winner seems to be Zynga, who now looks forward to an IPO where it can boast a viable alternative to a Facebook dependency to boost valuation numbers.
Oh, and if you haven’t gotten the “gaming icon” on your Google+ feed yet, here’s a video to rub salt in the wound.. er.. I mean to give you a preview of things to come.
Incidentally, since Google+ is now in gaming, can music be far behind?