If a credible-sounding report over at TechCrunch is to be believed, Google has splashed out $182m to acquire Slide, the company behind social games and apps such as SuperPoke.

The word is that the acquisition will be announced on Friday. If true, Google appears to be spreading its money around the social gaming world. CEO Eric Schmidt has already alluded to a partnership and possible investment in king of the social games hill Zynga.

The word on the street is that Google is planning a social networking product, possibly called Google Me, and it appears that gaming could well be a core part of its offering.

Social gaming is big business and the industry could be worth as much as $1.5bn by 2014. Given the amount of money to be made in this brave new world, it’s understandable that Google will want to have a stake in the action. We’ll keep you updated on news of this new deal as we get it.