Arcade, Google’s Social Gaming Startup Is Led By 21-Year-Old Wunderkind

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Google is working on a social gaming startup “Arcade,” as part of its Area 120 initiative to develop small startups within itself. In fact, the search giant is helping wunderkind Michael Sayman, who is heading the Arcade project.

Arcade would primarily be focused on social games and could launch this summer. Google in a statement to Bloomberg said that Arcade is “focused on mobile gaming with friends,” and is led by the 21-year-old Michael Sayman, who joined as an intern at Facebook at the age of 17.

With Arcade, Google may be planning on extending the trivia-like sessions where friends, colleagues and families come together for a game. According to Bloomberg, Arcade would not be tied to a specific social platform and that the game would have its own place for users to hang out.

Arcade gaming, which is still in the initial stages, possibly aims to be a social platform in itself.  Apart from the gaming, it would also offer video chat, sharing links, messaging and so on. A user interested in playing the game will have to create a separate profile using their phone number. Other personal information might not be needed to create a profile.

Google is relatively new in the field of game development. Last year, the company’s chief game designer resigned from the post reportedly after being fedup with getting reluctant responses from superiors over actually creating a video game. However, Michael Sayman could turn things around for Google in the gaming zone.

While in high school, Sayman launched a photo-based game 4 Snaps, wherein the players had to guess a word based on the pictures sent by their friends. Facebook took note of this interesting game and offered an internship to Sayman. At the age of 19, he developed an app for Facebook that converted profiles into videos. Later, he left Facebook for Google in August of last year.

Since Sayman’s venture comes under Google Area 120, he reportedly gets a budget to hire staff and funds for marketing, design and financing his own startup. If successful, Google Area 120 startups and their ideas are baked into the company’s product line. If not, then Google eventually shuts down the project.

Google Area 120 has seen some new startups popping up such as Chatbase, which offers bot analytics software. Other projects like Supersonics, which tried to convert voice messages into emojis, was shut down.

The most recent app released from Google Area 120 was Grasshopper. The said app was developed as a smartphone game for adults to easily learn basic coding. The app also encourages them in higher course studies of computer coding techniques. The content in the app uses puzzles and quizzes to help users become familiar with the coding principles.

Arcade might not be the only recent attempt by Google into the gaming world. Just a few months back, a report from The Information claimed that the search engine giant is working on a subscription-based gaming streaming service, which would be extended to the users either through Chromecast devices or via a totally new Google-made gaming console.

The service dubbed as “Yeti” would be similar to streaming services like PlayStation Now, wherein players would pay a subscription fee to play the collection of games, which would run on a remote device and stream over the internet, the report said.

Further, The Information noted that “an early version” of the service would work on Chromecast, but as of now, it is not known how a game controller would be connected to Chromecast. Also, there are reports that Google is developing a game console and a controller. The project is reportedly headed by two Google hardware executives Mario Queiroz, VP of product management, and Majd Bakar, VP of engineering. Whether the project would materialize or is really in existence is still unknown.

Meanwhile, Google is launching a new investment program for startups working to improve Google Assistant hardware or features. Under the new program, the search giant would offer financial resources, early access to Google features and tools, Google Cloud platforms and other support to aid young companies.

“We’re opening a new investment program for early-stage startups that share our passion for the digital assistant ecosystem, helping to push new ideas forward and advance the possibilities of what digital assistants can do,” the search giant said in a statement.

Further, the search giant would also support the startups that are inclined toward the Google Assistant’s use in travel, hospitality, or games industries. The startups would get assistance from Google engineers, design experts and product managers, who would guide the young companies on the product development.

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