Google+ officially launches its Games service today with a series of established Facebook and mobile developers including Zynga, Playdom, PopCap Games, Kabam, Wooga, Rovio and more.
The above screenshot shows the list of launch titles for Google+ Games. While we’re not surprised by most of the games we see on this list — established titles with healthy audiences, all — we do note that CrowdStar and 6waves Lolapps don’t appear to be Google+ launch partners.
In a blog post announcing the launch, Google’s Vic Gundotra, senior VP of engineering, explains that the Games stream will show up as a button at the top of the Streams list. Clicking it displays game updates, invites, and recent gameplay activity from those within your circle. This stream is also where a player’s in-game activity is shared, eliminating the spam problem Facebook experienced last year where games posts clogged the feeds of non-gaming users. The post says the Games button is live today, but we haven’t seen it appear in our Google+ account as yet. When it does, here’s what it will look like:
The announcement ends months of speculation about how and when Google would integrate social games into its social network experience. Previous discoveries suggested APIs similar to what Facebook offers social game developers, and there were rumors that a small pool of developers had been sought out by Google to launch games. The inclusion of Zynga Poker on the list of Google+ games is significant, as it helps us narrow down the list of Zynga games the developer is required to maintain exclusively on Facebook.
Games launching on Google+ is a symbolic moment in the evolution of social platforms in the United States. Over the last couple of years, there has been no viable alternative to Facebook for social game developers looking to get their games in front of a large audience. MySpace has fallen off the radar completely, and smaller networks like Bebo, Tagged, and Hi5 don’t have the traffic most developers are looking for. Though the Google+ Platform is currently only available to those developers Google invited to participate in the launch, its existence and possible growth will potentially grant developers an actual choice of platform and perhaps even some negotiating room with Facebook.