Microsoft said on Monday that it has introduced a new games hub to connect its three major social gaming portals.
The Microsoft Game Hub is a new portal that combines MSN Games, Bing Games and Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft says that half of all people online in the US, around 99 million, play online games. Social gaming has been growing in popularity and the percentage of online users that play games has increased from 40% to 50% in the last two years, according to a 2010 Nielsen study.
“With today’s announcements, we’ve made it easier to find and play the games you love while connecting to the people who matter most to you. We’re driving that experience across multiple platforms so millions of players can share their experiences with their social circles,” said Michael Wolf, senior marketing manager for Xbox Product Marketing.
Microsoft’s games integration in Messenger is available in what the software giant calls “full view”. The games tab is the main location for all gaming activity where you can connect to Facebook and Messenger friends. The games tab will launch in the US, UK, France, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Microsoft says more markets will be added later this year. Games will vary slightly in each market and each game will be English with a localized games tab UI.
“It doesn’t matter where you play – on Messenger, on Bing, on your mobile device, or on your PC,” Wolf said. “You can have that sense of connectivity and competition regardless of platform, which is something no one’s ever really done before.”
Microsoft is hoping to attract a hoard of casual gamers that typically play games on social networking sites like Facebook. Today, at launch, the company is offering more than 35 titles including hits like Cubis 2, Super Stacker and Plants vs Zombies. All are playable across MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing.