Everybody has assumed for many months that Google was working on its own social gaming platform of some sort and now that Google+ is live, we’re beginning to see what some of the features for its games platform might be.
The first is the obvious tool set for developers. Hints in the source code point to API calls that replicate what social game developers can already do on Facebook to generate friend invites. Today, sharp-eyed readers of tech blog Slash Gear caught mention in a Google help page of APIs that allow developers to post to a Games Stream, such as “/_/games/getGameFriends”, “/_/games/getActivities” and “/_/games/postToStream” — that help article has since been removed.
The second is payment methods. Google Checkout now offers a Checkout for the Web option that allows developers to collect payments for virtual goods from within a game. This isn’t that much of a surprise as Google acquired virtual currency service developer Jambool apparently for the purpose of integrating its Social Gold in-app payments experience with Google’s infrastructure. That payments API launched in May.
The final component is the mystery of developer relations. Plenty of Facebook social game developers have expressed enthusiasm about working with Google+ as a games platform and we know that Google already has its own in-house social game developer in the form of Superpoke Pets! developer Slide. It was also recently revealed that Google did indeed invest in Zynga. Even if the FarmVille developer gets some kind of edge from the funding, social game developers have every reason to be excited about bringing games to Google+ once the platform is open to third parties. If nothing else, it lends them more negotiating room with Facebook for better terms.