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Google begins rollout of games on Google+

Google's social network has finally begun the rollout of games, letting Google+ users play social Web games without leaving the site.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Games on Google+.
Games on Google+, now live for some. Google

Google's not-so-secret gaming ambitions for its new social network are no longer under wraps.

Google today announced a gaming element for Google+, the social network the company launched at the end of June. The new offering lets Google+ users play games from within the social network, including some that can be played with other Google+ users.

Some of the launch games include Rovio's Angry Birds, PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz, and Zynga's Poker. It's a tiny collection compared to what's offered on Facebook, which has made a booming business by offering social games that players can click away at while remaining within the social network's walls.

According to Google engineering director David Glazer, the initial batch of games was intentionally kept small so as to "get the kinks out of our APIs." Glazer said Google would be adding more developers and features "in small steps" ahead of a public release.

The release comes just a few weeks after a Google+ help page cropped up detailing a "Games Stream." Before that, snippets of site code were discovered that mentioned game invites, along with a Google Games logo that was being hosted behind the scenes. In addition, a Google job posting sought a product manager for a "brand-new business" called "Games at Google."

When will users get access to games? In a post announcing the feature, Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, said that the feature is being opened up to the Google+ community "gradually" and that everyone would be getting it "soon." The social network itself remains invite only, requiring users to sign up for access as Google expands what it's called a "field trial."

To combat game-related score updates from clogging up user feeds, Google says people will only see updates if they play games on the service, keeping those who don't from seeing them at all.

"If you're not interested in games, it's easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about," Gundotra wrote.

Facebook offered a similar tweak to its own news feed late last year after noting that "tens of millions" of wall posts related to applications were being deleted by users who no longer wanted to see them. Both that and Google's approach keep it more limited based on the audience.

In related news, Facebook is said to be planning to announce updates to its gaming platform tonight, according to AllThingsD.

Google+ hit 25 million users last week according to a report from ComScore. That report pegged Google's current growth rate at about 1 million users per day, growing at a faster rate than both Facebook and Twitter in each of those service's early years.

Update at 1:47 p.m. PT: Google has posted a promotional video of the new gaming portion of Google+. It demos how games show up on the service and how users can post information from those games to their circles. It's embedded below: