With Google's launch of its social networking feature for Gmail and mobile devices, Google Buzz, Tuesday, some are already speculating what's next for new service. A killer app for Buzz? Social games.
"Web-based email could be a great platform for social applications," says Shervin Pishevar, executive chairman of Social Gaming Network, a social games developer, who sees more similarities between social networking incumbents like Facebook and Twitter with Google Buzz than just the sharing of statuses, links and other media.
Social games on Facebook typically have asynchronous actions: a player does something, and other players react later, and not in real time. This is similar to an email service like Gmail, which Buzz is built into, where users correspond asynchronously though messages.
Pishevar thinks that now that Gmail has a social-network service like Buzz built in, which adds social, real-time and location-based information to the mix, the service becomes an interesting proposition to gamers and developers. He imagines something like a "gFarm" social game within Buzz:
"You can build the interface of an app within an email where the text of the body is supposed to be, so your farm is in the email window, and send that to people in your social graph or email list," says Pishevar, "Then you'd get a notification, like in Facebook, but here in Gmail, saying something like 'so-and-so has just picked cherries on your farm.'"
The fact that Buzz looks fairly well integrated in mobile devices is another point in its favor for social gaming, which has spread to smart phones.
To be sure, there's no guarantee that Google is going to be successful with Buzz, especially since it hasn't done well with social in the past (Orkut much anyone?). But if it does take off, game developers will be watching, and hoping that Google opens the doors to social games