Google is seeking partners to build-out online games to help it compete with Facebook, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
It has held talks with several major games companies, including Playdom, Playfish and Zynga - in which Google recently bought a stake - as part of a broader social networking initiative underway, the paper said.
Interviewed by the Journal this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt declined to confirm the development of a social networking games service, rumored to be called “Google Me.”
The news illustrates the importance that Google and other big media and internet firms place on the hot social games segment.
Unlike the marquee games on platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation, social games are simple and inexpensive and don’t require a dedicated hardware.
Startup Zynga, the company behind the wildly popular Farmville game, has raised $500 million from backers in the last year alone, including as much as $200 million from Google.
This week Disney acquired Playdom for $563 million plus another $200 million if it meets performance targets Disney CEO Robert Iger told the Journal social games offered a way to reach consumers in a fragmented media landscape.
For games developers, Google’s entry into the market offers an alternative to Facebook.
Google launched its social networking service, Google Buzz, in January, allowing Gmail users to share photos and follow each other online.