Google is talking to "several" developers in the social gaming space about the creation of a social network that would rival the 500 million-strong Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday
The report cited multiple anonymous sources close to the dealings who said Google is talking to companies including Playfish parent Electronic Arts, FarmVille
house Zynga and Disney's recent acquisition
If Google launches the reported games-friendly social network, it would find itself in direct competition with Facebook, which is home to the leading social network games. A successful Google social network could also give game developers another viable platform to reach the millions of "social" gamers who spend real-world cash on virtual items.
Google did not immediately respond to Gamasutra's inquiry about the service. The Wall Street Journal said that Google CEO Eric Schmidt this week would not confirm development of a social game-friendly networking service, rumored to be called "Google Me."
The search engine giant is keenly interested in expanding its reach into the gaming space. In April this year, Google hired longtime game industry veteran Mark DeLoura as developer advocate for games at the company.
"In this time of great disruption in the game industry, there are a huge number of opportunities for developers," he said at the time
. "It can be difficult for traditional games companies to navigate the new possibilities provided by mobile platforms, social networks, and alternative business models."
Google reportedly invested around $100 million
into Zynga this year as it prepares for a wide-reaching gaming initiative. Schmidt did not confirm the unannounced deal, but said, "you can expect a partnership with Zynga [in the future]."
The most recent major social gaming transaction was Disney's acquisition of Sorority Life
developer Playdom for $563.2 million and up to an additional $200 million in earn-outs.