According to rampant speculation in the well-respected business organ that is Forbes magazine this week, Google may well be looking to go up against the likes of Electronic Arts, Activision-Blizzard and Ubisoft and move into the games publishing market.
The Forbes editorial was simply titled, 'Will Google Play Games?' posing the question: 'Is Google as a videogame publisher within the realm of possibility?
"The paths Google could take to develop a bigger presence in the gaming industry are varied. With its financial war chest, the company could easily acquire one or several casual game development houses, using those to deliver in-game advertising via Adscape," speculates Forbes.
Free games in exchange for adverts?
"For instance, visitors to Pogo.com and RealArcade tend to be women over 35, and they are already used to seeing advertising with their games--sometimes particularly intrusive advertising. If Google were to introduce a more subtle style--similar to the AdSense ads it has been so successful with--it could prove appealing."
So basically, the suggestion is that Google might publish and sell (or, more likely, give away in an ad-funded revenue stream model) 'proper' games to PC gamers.
"The company could just as easily acquire a top- or mid-tier developer and court the hardcore PC gamer," claims Forbes.
"Google also has several existing technologies that could be used to create games. Imagine a flight simulator that uses Google Earth as a backdrop or tracking a spy in a major city via Google Maps' street view. While there would still be significant work required to create a game using these tools, the underlying technology is already fundamentally finished.
Valve, EA, online success
Also, the piece adds that while the current games industry is largely driven by tradition boxed product and real-world retail stores, Google is surely taking note of successes of Valve and EA in the online retail space, noting that "digital delivery is a rapidly growing industry… The money's not as good, but the growth potential is significant. And Google has the bankroll to wait for the growth to come…"
"There's no question the company wants a part of the $18 billion videogame industry. The real question is: What is it planning to do to get it?"
A Google spokesperson told TechRadar today that the company does not comment on rumour or speculation. We have contacted Ubisoft, EA and Activision-Blizzard to poll their opinion on the story and will update this news piece as we hear back.