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Microsoft Embraces Social Games with New Hub

Microsoft made several big announcements related to social games Monday, including a unified social system across all its web-based gaming platforms, an overhaul of MSN Games, international expansion for Bing Games and a deal with CrowdStar, the second biggest social games publisher.

You can see the new social features — which are called Microsoft Game Hub, and include leaderboards and Facebook integration — by visiting the online preview of the new MSN Games. Microsoft’s goal is to connect you with your social gaming friends regardless of whether you’re using MSN Games, Bing or Windows Live Messenger; they don’t have to use the same portal as you to play with you or see your profile data.

We’re curious as to how the new, web-based Xbox Live plays into this. Microsoft has implied that it will offer playable games through that portal, so one wonders if that will integrate with Microsoft Game Hub as well, or if Microsoft intends to maintain a distinction between “casual” and “core” games.

It would be a difficult distinction to keep since Windows Phone 7 uses Xbox Live, and it will surely be home to many casual games.

Microsoft also announced that its recently launched Bing Games site will open in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and that more games will be available through the Windows Live Messenger client. The biggest news besides Microsoft Game Hub is the partnership with game publisher CrowdStar, which will bring its first game to the Bing platform.

Competitors Yahoo and Facebook already have well-established social gaming platforms, but Google is just getting started. It has reportedly partnered with FarmVille maker Zynga to launch its own games portal soon.

Source: Mashable

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