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Google+ Adding Games to Social Service From Zynga, Rovio

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Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc., owner of the world’s most-used search engine, is adding games to its new social-networking service from developers such as Zynga Inc. and Rovio Entertainment Oy, creator of the hit “Angry Birds.”

Google+, the service that was unveiled at the end of June, will start gradually rolling out the games feature today before making them fully available, said Vic Gundotra, senior vice president, engineering, at Google in a blog post today. The initial developers also include Wooga GmbH, Funzio Inc. and Kabam Inc.

“We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life,” Gundotra said in the blog. “That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences. Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.”

Google+ is the company’s latest effort to help it compete against younger social-networking companies such as Palo Alto, California-based Facebook Inc., the most-used social site. Facebook has attracted users to its site with games from providers such as San Francisco-based Zynga and Redwood City, California-based Kabam.

The Google service reached 29 million visitors globally in July, according to ComScore Inc. Google+ had reached about 25 million a week before the end of that month.

Virtual Item Sales

Game developers such as Zynga typically make most of their money from selling virtual items within applications.

Google, in a promotional offer, will take 5 percent of the cut for in-application purchases, a percentage that is similar to revenue-sharing rates across Google products on the Web, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Facebook currently gets 30 percent of virtual-goods purchases made within games, through a payment system called Facebook Credits.

Separately, Facebook said today it is improving the way people use applications on its site, making them more engaging for the site’s 200 million game users, according to a blog post. On the top right of canvas pages, which are used for applications, Facebook will now display bookmarks for top apps along with activity updates from friends on other games.

Facebook also will provide more room for displaying applications, according to the blog post. In addition, the company will roll out a new ranking system that aims for more quality in showing application activity in the news feed.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $13.12, or 2.4 percent, to $562.13 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market, amid a broad market recovery. The shares have dropped 5.4 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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