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Plugged In

Google+ launches games section, takes on Facebook

Plugged In

The social war between Facebook and Google just got a lot more fun.

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Dragon Age Legends (EA/Bioware)

Google+, the search giant's fast-rising social network, has added games to its offerings, encroaching on the most profitable and popular part of Facebook's empire. And it's boasting some big titles, too.

Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz and Dragon Age Legends are among the well-known names the company is offering players. But the real draw may be the manner in which Google is presenting games on its service — in an unobtrusive way that will mean fewer annoyances for friends and followers.

"Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don't," the company said in a blog post introducing the feature. "If you're not interested in games, it's easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about."

The arrival of games on Google+ wasn't exactly a surprise, of course. Google invested $100 million in social gaming king Zynga last July, telegraphing the intention to bring that company's games to its service.

You won't, however, be seeing familiar Zynga games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars and CityVille appearing on Google+. Facebook has exclusive rights to those Zynga titles.

The service is just starting its rollout, meaning not every Google+ member has access to the games yet. The expansion is expected to be fairly robust.

And expect the game lineup to be a beefy one. Rather than demanding the 30 percent commission Facebook requires from developers, Google is reportedly asking just 5 percent right now (though that will likely increase down the road). That could woo developers who have been on the fence about making games for Google.

Still, Google's got a long way to go before they catch up. Facebook has a membership in the hundreds of millions of users, while the Google+ user base is in the neighborhood of 10 million. But Google's site is just a little over one month old — and has been turning the heads of people upset with Facebook's constant design changes and privacy policy tweaks.

-- Play Gems Twist on Yahoo! Games --

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