Google’s Chrome Web Store Puts Social and Casual Games Side-By-Side

At a conference today, Google unveiled the new Chrome Web Store, a custom-built destination for its Chrome browser with downloadable apps and games, including social games.

The social titles available are limited so far to just a few games like FarmVille by Zynga, Millionaire City by Digital Chocolate, and OMGpop’s Balloono. Google doesn’t appear to have put a lot of effort into the integration; the “apps” are effectively glorified bookmarks leading to preexisting destination sites.

But with Google claiming that 120 million internet users are now on Chrome, the Web Store nevertheless deserves a look from social developers.

All of the Web Store’s featured offerings so far are actually paid casual games like Onslaught! Arena and Wordico. If that business model succeeds, the Web Store could recreate the paid vs free app battle taking place on mobile devices.

On the other hand, Google may have trouble convincing many users to hand over credit card information, so free apps may do best on the Web Store. Over time, a base of repeat payers using Google Checkout or Google acquisition Jambool may build up, but Google has yet to even figure out monetization of paid apps on its Android mobile OS.

Developers who want to move off Facebook could do well with Google, either creating destination sites for Google to point to — effectively making it a directory and discovery service — or as more full-featured downloadable apps.

Google is also offering hardware acceleration for browser apps, opening the way to more animation and better graphics, and attempting to further establish HTML5 as acceptable for game development.

For now there’s no reason for any social developer to go out of their way to work with the Web Store, but with the Chrome OS and new iPad competitors launching next year, it’s worth keeping an eye on.