MySpace on Friday launched an in-house pilot program that offers game developers the chance to work with MySpace developers in building games for the social network.
The MySpace Games labs program is meant "to drive collaboration and facilitate great user experiences," MySpace Co-President Mike Jones said in the company's blog. Jones did not provide any details of the program, but said game developers TheBroth and Meez were early participants.
In focusing on social games, MySpace is trying to match the success of rival Facebook. For example, game developer Zynga makes some of Facebook's most popular games, which are played by 235 million users a month on the site. That amounts to more than half of Facebook's worldwide total of 400 million users.
MySpace, owned by News Corp., has struggled to regain members who have left the site for the more popular Facebook. In April, MySpace had 69.2 million unique U.S. users, down 2.5% from the same month last year, according to ComScore. By comparison, Facebook attracted 121.8 million unique U.S. users, an increase of 80% from a year ago.
Whether games increase the number of users on social networks is not clear. However, games do provide a way to bring in revenue through subscriptions, the sale of virtual goods, and advertising.
MySpace said it has been working with game developer Playdom to "refine" the site's product roadmap priorities. "As we continue to collaborate, MySpace has been receptive to our feedback to update the platform with improved promotional and viral channels," John Pleasants, chief executive of Playdom, said in Jones' blog post.
In addition, Zynga said it will introduce Mafia Wars, one of the most popular games on Facebook, to MySpace. The move is part of Zynga's strategy of taking its games to more sites, Vish Makhijani, senior VP of business operations at Zynga, said.
MySpace's gaming platform is based on OpenSocial, a set of application programming interfaces for Web-based social network applications. Google, MySpace, and other social networks developed OpenSocial, which was released in November 2007. MySpace Games is led by newly hired Manu Rekhi, general manager of Games and the developer platform.