Google is looking to make some major changes in the way people pay for, play and receive games.
At GDC Europe in Germany this week, Google game developer advocate Mark DeLoura showed off the progress the search engine giant has made in the gaming space. The company plans on launching an app store for its increasingly popular Chrome web browser in October, and games will be a major focus of the company going forward.
Web-based gaming has a bright future, said DeLoura, who showed declining U.S. video game boxed retail sales numbers versus a burgeoning online social game market.
"If you're at [FarmVille
developer] Zynga, you're probably incredibly happy, but for social and casual overall, it's looking much better [than console gaming]," he said, as reported in a 1UP video
DeLoura explained that one of the challenges for web-based gaming is getting consumers to discover your game, and he hopes that Google's app store can change that. He said a web search for "Chess" can return many ambiguous results, and of those, users don't know if a certain version of chess is any good.
"One of the things we want to achieve with a web store is to have a place to go when you actually want to download a chess app," said DeLoura in the example. Google's solution will allow users to install and manage web games, and bookmark them to come back to them later.
He also said that one goal of the web store "is [to] give people more options for monetization easily rather than the traditional ads. I think as an industry we're moving forward to in-app payments, microtransactions."
DeLoura said that Chrome has over 70 million users currently, or about 9 percent of the web browser audience, and that's growing. He also showed that Google Chrome is substantially faster for running games compared to other apps, and that is promising for more technically impressive web games.
App store pages will have social aspects themselves, including user reviews and the ability to see what a friend says about a game.
Business model-wise, there is no approval process to get a game on Google apps, and the company said it doesn't ask for any revenue share with game makers, only a 5 percent "processing fee."
At launch, the app store will support both free and paid apps, support for free trials, subscriptions and other monetization methods. In the first half of 2011, Google will implement multi-currency support and in-app transactions.
During the GDC Europe presentation, Google showed Chrome web versions of PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies
and Warner's Lego Star Wars