By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 1:53 am
GameHouse–the casual gaming arm of RealNetworks that’s been around under one name or another for a decade–is trying to respond in a big way to the rise of social games, virtual gifts, the Facebook platform, and other trends reflected in wildly popular games such as FarmVille. At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, it’s launching a platform of its own it calls GameHouse Fusion–a set of services designed to help game developers bake social features into their products. They include everything from simple social stuff like leaderboards to special trophies gamers can create themselves; virtual goods; hosting and ad-sales services; and more. And they’re designed for browser-based games (including ones built for both the Facebook and OpenSocial platforms), downloadable ones, and ones for the iPhone and other mobile phones.
The first big expression of Fusion is a new GameHouse on Facebook portal that’s launching today. It includes 1,000 existing games that have been given social features via Fusion–in many cases relatively basic ones such as the ability to share high scores, see what games your pals are playing, and share your own gaming profile. But Real executives told they plan to roll out new features regularly, and see Fusion as enabling a scenario in which gameplayers can take their social identity with them as they play games on social networks, on their computers, on their phones, and on gizmos such as the iPad.
Developers don’t have to put their games on the GameHouse Facebook portal–they can also build standalone Facebook apps, as well as games for distribution through marketplaces such as the iTunes Store. GameHouse plans to make money by taking a cut of profits that developers realize–through ad sales and payments by users for games and virtual goods.
Stay tuned–and let us know what you think of GameHouse on Facebook if you pay it a visit.