One of the web industry’s worst kept secret is that Google is building a new social network, dead set on taking on Facebook. There’s nothing official, but it’s pretty much a given. Now the Wall Street Journal has uncovered more details about Google’s plans which suggest that social gaming will be central to its efforts. Google is said to be in talks with several major players in the space, Zynga, Playfish, Playdom and so on, for them to develop or port games over to Google’s emerging platform.
Google Me, as the new social network is rumored to be called, will be Google’s answer to the Facebook threat. It’s not the company’s first foray into the social networking space, but it looks to be the most promising. Considering Google’s track record, the company probably knows that it can’t really afford to fail with this venture as well.
Google Me will integrate the existing Google Profiles, but will be a traditional social network, very much in the vein of Facebook. The company hasn’t confirmed anything, but it hasn’t denied the rumors either. While he wouldn’t say if Google is working on a new social network, CEO Eric Schmidt commented that “the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing,” when asked if the rumored site would resemble Facebook.
One of the ways Google seems to want to differentiate itself is with games. Social games are now a huge part of Facebook, but the social network wasn’t built from the ground up around them. While, it’s unlikely that Google’s offering will put gaming first, that aspect is now believed to occupy an important place in the plans.
Google recently invested $100 million in social gaming powerhouse Zynga, unconfirmed by either company. Schmidt wouldn’t confirm the move as well, but said that an partnership with Zynga is to be expected. For the social gaming companies, a powerful alternative to Facebook will grant them a lot more bargaining power.