MySpace announced today it is launching MySpace Games Lab to help third-party app makers bring more social games onto its social network. It is also launching an internal team to make more in-house games on MySpace.
The pilot program will support game developers by providing rapid feedback and quick turnaround on new features to be added to social games. Mike Jones, co-president of MySpace, said in a blog post that MySpace welcomes game developers of all kinds.
Partners such as TheBroth and Meez were early participants in the pilot, and now MySpace is broadening it. Playdom, the biggest game publisher on MySpace, is working with MySpace to update the platform with improved promotional and viral channels to help games spread faster.
Jones said that OpenSocial, which is an industry-wide rival to Facebook Connect, is making progress in getting adoption across the web. OpenSocial lets a social network share friend data via apps that operate on multiple platforms. Oxylabs, an early adopter of OpenSocial and an app maker, says its apps have monetized well. OpenSocial is connected to games because it means that games which are created for MySpace can also be linked to non-MySpace web sites and that players can invite MySpace friends into any OpenSocial-compatible games.
Zynga is extending its popular Mafia Wars title on MySpace by allowing users to unlock the Bangkok chapter of the game. Meanwhile, Jones said MySpace hired Manu Rekhi as general manager of MySpace’s Games and Developer Platform. MySpace is clearly taking a page from Facebook, whose open approach to third-party games has allowed it to amass huge numbers of users for its games. But MySpace may be going a step farther by bringing the game developers in-house. Facebook itself doesn’t make games and leaves those apps to third-party game publishers.
A big question is whether it’s too little too late for MySpace, which had the early lead in social networking on Facebook but completely lost its advantage. The most popular apps on Facebook are social games such as Zynga’s FarmVille. Games are also popular on MySpace, but it makes sense for MySpace to invest further in it.