Soon-to-Debut Google+ Games Will Hit Facebook Where It Hurts: The Pocketbook

Google is close to launching a social game network that could make Facebook very, very nervous.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two platforms will be cost.

According to multiple sources, Google will take less than a 30 percent cut of the revenues, which will break the industry standard created over the past few years by both Facebook and Apple.

The launch of a games network on Google+ may provide a couple of immediate benefits to game developers if the Internet giant actually pulls everything off.

The obvious one is that it will give developers another outlet for its games. But the other perk is that it could provide a small way for developers to get back at Facebook after learning earlier this week that it has a complicated — if not favorable — relationship with Zynga, the industry leader.

More favorable terms, and that, could bring game developers flocking to Google.

I am also hearing that the game network will have significant technical differences. Two people described the platform as a “native client,” which means that Google will host the games on its own servers, rather than on the developer’s.

The expectation is that this could lead to faster game play for users, with shorter loading times and fewer bugs than in games found on Facebook.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

Last month, I reported that a games network was likely coming next on Google+.

At the time, a spokesperson issued this statement: “It’s important to keep in mind this is an ongoing project and this is just the beginning. We plan to add a lot of features and functionality to Google+ over time. We’re just excited to get started.”

Timing of the launch is still unknown; however, at Casual Connect this week in Seattle, publishers were buzzing (albeit quietly) about the upcoming launch. Everyone I spoke to was under the impression it was coming soon. One enthusiastic source said it will launch this month, while another said it was taking longer.

Details on the revenue split are also unknown, but there have been hints at what it could offer.

Two days ago, Google launched In-App Payments, which allow developers to integrate payments within any Web application, which is exactly the kind of technology it would need to monetize a social game network. What’s even more important is that Google disclosed it only charges five percent for the payments service.

There’s no evidence that in-app payments are connected, or if Google would ask for the same cut. But, at such a low starting point, it is probably not too far off the mark, since most of Google’s time and attention is focused on advertising.

So far, Google’s in-app payments are available to developers with a U.S. bank account, and work in more than 140 countries.

Of course, Google’s game network will not support developers without hundreds of millions of consumers to play the games.

So far it has delivered on that front, too.

Already, 10 million users have signed up for Google+, despite requiring an invitation. The user base has also been particularly active, sharing and receiving one billion items per day.

What Google’s network won’t be is a haven for developers who are seeking to get away from Zynga, which is larger than its next five competitors on Facebook combined.

Google is one of Zynga’s major investors.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google