Last week, MySpace launched their new Games Lab pilot program, which aims to “bringing third party developers into our offices to drive collaboration and facilitate great user experiences,” and various gaming blogs are speculating about the news. To me, the question is whether an idea like “Games Lab” will help them establish themselves as a good alternative to Facebook for social gaming or whether they need to do something more drastic.
It seems that MySpace has been attempting to introduce services to get games developers to use their platform for games, and that makes a lot of sense. The problem is that an initiative like Games Lab really just means to invite game developers in the door and get them to give MySpace advice on what they want. That is a good start, and is likely part of their new strategy with their new head of games, Manu Rekhi. We’ve known Rekhi from his past work with Lolapps and know that he has a good grasp on the social games industry, so it looks like his first step is to strengthen relationships with developers and begin asking what they would want for MySpace to become their dream social gaming portal.
Will that be enough to get MySpace on the right track with regards to games? To me it depends on how radically MySpace is able to change its network. While the current application directory and selection at MySpace is definitely impressive and easy to navigate, I don’t think being ‘on par’ is enough to stem the tide of players to the biggest game arcade on the web: Facebook. MySpace needs to distinguish it and perhaps look to sites like OmgPOP.com to see how to really make their social network a gamers’ paradise. Imagine getting a few ‘MySpace Coins’ every time you listened to a full song or commented on someone’s wall, and then being able to use these coins within the games you played. A concept like that seems like something that would really get players excited and engaged.
In any case, we’ll continue closely monitoring MySpace’s transition to games and follow Rekhi’s progress.