Skype rolls the dice with Facebook games

Skype's latest venture plugs the VoIP client's cool third-party games into a Facebook app, then walks away.

Skype Games
Choose from 18 different games.

Facebook is quickly becoming a way for established software publishers and services to gain new market share. Today Skype (for Windows and Mac) slipped an app launcher for 18 games into Facebook's app directory. I might mention that the games already exist as Skype Extras. Not only will the new app advertise this content to a fresh audience, the third party developers who provide Skype their games can also win new followers.

The single- and multiplayer games include bowling, Sudoku, Russian checkers, and backgammon. I launched the bowling game from Facebook, which opened the Extras Manager on Skype's app (which must be running in order to use the service) and it instructed me to choose an opponent from my buddy list.

The match proceeded as it would have had I plucked it from Skype's interface, which is to say it was a fun, engaging experience that took full advantage of Skype's all-in-one services to chat while "rolling," speak over VoIP, interact with a friend, and send screen shots via file transferring. But did I really need the Facebook app?

Skype Games, bowling

As a standalone Facebook add-on, Skype Games is little more than an alternate route for virally marketing the Skype app and Extras section. The only newness is the Facebook profile presence. At this early stage, that's just a thumbnail icon in the apps roster and a tiny textual plug in the left column--a very shy presence for the usually gregarious VoIP titan. However, that makes Skype Games for Facebook unobtrusive enough to act as a quick app-launcher, which may help those users who are too slothful to turn from their browsers and haul up Skype from their desktop.

If that's the case, lazy-bones should expend the click or two to download one of these free quick-app launchers: Launchy for Windows or Quicksilver for Mac. As for Skype Games, we'll keep you posted if they up their Facebook ante.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.