Google updated its Google+ social network in a pretty big way on Thursday--by adding games. Google is rolling out popular games on users' Google+ streams, including Angry Birds, Zombie Lane, and Edgeworld.
This is a big step for Google+, because social networks and gaming seem to go hand-in-hand (just take a look at Facebook and Farmville). It's also a big step in Google+'s rivalry with Facebook, because Facebook has long been the social network of choice in gaming (again…look at Farmville).
However, Google is taking it one step further--it's announced that it will be charging social game (such as Farmville) developers only a 5 percent commission on in-game transactions. Facebook, on the other hand, charges a whopping 30 percent commission--a huge cut of profits that has been a bone of contention for developers for quite some time.
Zynga, the developer of Farmville and Mafia Wars, has even been rumored to have dabbled in creating its own social gaming site, in order to escape Facebook's 30 percent cut. Ultimately rumors were just rumors, and Zynga has stuck by Facebook--but with Google's new social network making waves, who knows what'll happen.
Price Drop Temporary?
Well, the current commission of 5 percent is just promotional--at least, that's what Google+ games product manager Punit Soni told VentureBeat. Still, that's some pretty aggressive pricing, even for a promotion. Google doesn't yet know when the promotion will end or what it will charge developers on a regular basis.
Google is currently working with 10 game developers that have launched 16 games on Google+. Currently, there are no in-game ads (but don't expect that to last), and Google's Soni says that Google is going to be "very aggressive about making users happy."
Meanwhile, game developers see Google's promotional rate as a plus--but not a "game-changer." Funzio's Anil Dharni told VentureBeat Thursday that other factors are more important, including monetization, user numbers, and retention rate.