What Google's Social Network Gaming Platform Might Look Like


It's all about the game. But Google's Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette, and Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg didn't tell analysts, investors and media on the Q2 2010 earnings call what I wanted to hear. Although not expecting it, I wanted to hear that the Mountain View, Calif., search engine opened the door to launch an Internet games network based on a social media platform, something that would support advertising and casual games through a cloud computing platform and Android operating system.

The social gaming platform would inter-operate with Google TV, competing with Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox and, yes, even partner Sony. Tie in Google Talk, Google Chat, and Google Gmail for a complete package.

The searchable, gaming social network might serve up display, video and search ads. A keyword bidding system and behavioral targeting platform would allow advertisers not only to serve up paid search ads on keywords in search queries, but in player profiles. And serve branded content within the game, similar to product placement in television, suggests Matt Laufer, technology director at Sterling-Rice Group.

Google might use impressions, data mining, cost per click and cost per acquisition to measure and monetize the platform. Players could post game scores in their social network profile or export the numbers into Buzz, Facebook or other social platforms. Video technology from YouTube might let you record the game play so players could go back and review their strategy.

A direct posting link would allow players to upload those videos to YouTube and monetize them through lower-third ads. Perhaps put music behind them, too? Oh, and the open source protocol Salmon would connect this gaming social network with Buzz and others.


Reports speculate that a Google partnership with casual game company Zynga will become Google Games, part of a larger social network that Digg Founder Kevin Rose suggested the search engine will call Google Me. Zynga, which made FarmVille and Mafia Wars, would provide the support for the gaming social network.

As I noted in April, Google's next big thing could become video games. After all, Google named Mark DeLoura "Developer Advocate" for games, to lead efforts in gaming. A well-known name in the video game industry, DeLoura's LinkedIn profile lists experience as vice president of technology at publisher GreenScreen Interactive, technical director at Ubisoft San Francisco and manager of developer relations at Sony Computer Entertainment America. He also worked as lead engineer at Nintendo of America.

Software tools would allow people to design their own games, upload them to the game marketplace and either give away or sell them. Think about App Inventor for Android.

Although this fictitious platform would require more than a sophisticated algorithm to pull off, if Google doesn't create this social gaming network supported by a search strategy, another company will step in and do it for them.

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