- Google is developing a social-gaming startup as part of the search giant's effort to create new businesses, the company confirmed to Bloomberg. Arcade, as the startup is called, is focused on mobile gaming with friends and is scheduled to release its first app this summer with elements of a trivia game.
- Arcade's games won't have tie-ins with social networks like Facebook or Snapchat, and the company will let users create accounts with their mobile phone numbers. Google reportedly considers Arcade a social media investment because games that reach a certain size become natural social networks, a source told Bloomberg.
- Arcade is part of Google's Area 120, a tech incubator that lets some employees work on small startups that live inside the broader company. Michael Sayman, 21, is the founder and co-owner of Arcade, per Bloomberg. He started at Facebook as an intern at 17 before joining Google last year.
Google has mostly cut back its ambitions in social media after Google Plus, a Facebook clone, gained little traction. As the Arcade startup shows, the search giant continues to experiment with apps that might appeal to younger mobile users and that provide a gateway to its other ad-supported services. By only requiring a mobile number to play one of its games, Arcade may allay privacy concerns following this year's revelations that Facebook shared the personal data of its users with third-party apps.
Many video games do provide social connections in ways that urge repeat usage. World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), is a notable example of a game that lets players cultivate connections as they control an avatar to explore a computer-generated landscape, complete quests and interact with other players. Instead of being an isolating experience like past video games that weren't connected to the internet, today's gaming platforms can take the role of a social network for many enthusiasts.