Tag Archives: zynga

Social Gaming Roundup: Acquisitions, Game Updates, Zynga Japan, & More

Zynga Japan Shuts Down FarmVille & Treasure Isle — According to a post from Dr. Serkan Toto, and via Game Watch, Zynga Japanis sunsetting down both FarmVille (Farmvillage) and Treasure Isle (Treasure Island) on Japan’s social network, Mixi. Each title was earning around 114,000 and 21,000 users each.

EA Uses Debt to Pay for PopCap — EA states that it will use $550 million in convertible debt to finance part of its recent PopCap purchase. As noted by VentureBeat, this is likely to allow for greater financial flexibility when it comes to making further acquisitions.

Ubisoft Buys Owlient — Core games developer Ubisoft has purchased web games developer Owlient. The acquisition is part of Ubisoft’s strategy to expand its games onto the web, social networks, and mobile spaces.

BrandEngageSponsorPay Launches BrandEngage to Drive Engagement & Monetization — Social advertising platform SponsorPay released a new product called BrandEngage this week. The service allows social game and app developers to enhance user engagement and monetization in their titles by integrating cost-per-engagement campaigns on Facebook and other social networks.

Kontagent Expands Analytics Platform — Earlier this week, Kontagent expanded its social analytics platform beyond games and apps on the Facebook platform with kSuite. Now, game developers for both the web and mobile platforms will be able utilize demographic data based on location, age groups, gender, engagement, and so on in real time.

Round of Funding Raised for deal united — The payments company behind PAY.BY.SHOPPING, deal united, has announced the ending of a Series B financing round led by Tengelmann E-Commerce Beteiligungs GmbH. Also participating were Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, KFW Bankengruppe, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Venture Incubator. Though the exact amount raised was not noted, the proceeds are stated to be used for expanding global brand awareness.

Bopler GamesEMI Signs Deal With Social Games Publisher MXP4 — Major record label EMI has signed a deal with social games publisher MXP4 says the Guardian. Through the deal, EMI will provide music from various artists to sell within MXP4′s Bopler Games app on Facebook. Sixty seconds of songs will be free, but Facebook Credits will be required to purchase full access.

Sometrics Releases Virtual Currency Infographic — Sometrics has released an infographic regarding its virtual currency services. According to the data, the majority of virtual currency purchases they’ve seen since has derived from the MMOG at 43 percent, followed by casual and social games at 35 percent. Additionally, credit cards make up the primary payment method at 53 percent with the most active spending day being Friday.

[Launch] Kabam Releases New Dragons of Atlantis Content — Social developer Kabam has announced the release of new content for its Facebook title, Dragon’s of Atlantis. High level players will now be able to further upgrade their Fortress with new looks and abilities as well as be able to gain access to a new combat class, the Fire Dragon.

Cow Clicker Runs Amusing Campaign — Facebook application Cow Clicker is running an amusing promotion to “Save The Pigs” by clicking cows in their game. Poking fun at Angry Birds, the app provides an amusingly written “open letter” detailing the entire predicament.

Source: http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2011/07/15/social-gaming-roundup-acquisitions-game-updates-zynga-japan-more/

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Music games boomed in 2010 but 2011 could be much shakier

Music-related games saw an increase of 13.7% in sales last year to generate over £100m at retail, but wider forces could compromise its growth potential for this year.

Figures given to the BPI from GfK’s Chart Track reveal that platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, drove a large amount of sales (up 123% for the platform itself) in the gaming sector. The findings demonstrate that motion-based titles such as the Just Dance franchise were key to the market over the past year, arguably taking up the slack from the decline in peripheral-based titles such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

The uptake of PlayStation’s Move and Xbox 360’s Kinect motion-sensor technology are also, alongside Wii, helping create a new category of music-based gaming.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said as labels diversified their revenue streams, licensing music into games titles had become a core part of digital business.

“Music is no longer a mere background feature in music games but a driving force behind their development and popularity. Motion-sensing has breathed new life into music games on consoles and record companies are finding new ways of engaging with fans through mobile and social gaming platforms,” he noted.

While the market performed well in 2010, events at the end of the year and the start of 2011 suggested the console gaming business was running out of rail.

And although there are a few marquee acts which are predicted to dominate this category in 2011, such as Ubisoft’s Blacked Eyes Peas Experience and the Glee-branded Music In Motion, the real boom is happening in social gaming, as Zynga’s IPO – which could value it at $1bn (£0.62bn) – illustrates all too obviously.

The company has managed to tap into a demographic which would never have previously considered themselves gamers, using Facebook to reach hundreds of millions of users.

However, the problem here, and it will become an increasingly larger one for labels and publishers as social gaming scoops up more and more users who will never engage with console games, is that music is pushed too far the side.

FarmVille dominates the genre and Zynga’s other major titles are primarily music-free. It did partner with Lady GaGa around her recent album launch, unlocking tracks and promotions during the campaign, however research by AllThingsDigital found the impact was fleeting – with user figures spiking around track unlocks but falling back when there was no activity on the site.

MXP4 has also recently moved into this area with its Bopler range of titles – and although these are all built on music, it remains to be seen what market and revenue impact they will have.

There have been moves by labels, notably EMI and Universal, to use social gaming to reach new audiences but they have tended to be used as marketing channels rather than adding in a commercial element to the equation.

This is the fundamental problem facing the sector; as social games piggyback on social networks, there is an inherent assumption from the users that – just like the social networks they use – they should be free at the point of entry.

There are monetisation routes of course, through options like virtual goods which even track and merchandise sales. But margins are becoming tight as organisations such as Facebook adapt their usage terms to insist that games developers go through the Facebook Credits payment system and hand over a 30% commissio.

Console gaming and its new motion-based future, spells good news for a handful of mega acts with enough fans for a developer to spend two years and millions of dollars building games around them.

And, for the rest of the acts, social gaming will grow in importance. But those hoping for a financial windfall for such titles will have a long wait ahead of them.

2010’s Top Ten titles in the UK (title/format/publisher):

1. Just Dance – Wii (Ubisoft)

2. Just Dance 2 – Wii (Ubisoft)

3. Michael Jackson: The Experience – Wii (Ubisoft)

4. Dance on Broadway – Wii (Ubisoft)

5. Dance Central – 360 (Microsoft)

6. The X Factor – Wii (Koch Media)

7. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – 360 (Activision Blizzard)

8. We Sing: Encore – Wii (Nordic Games)

9. We Sing – Wii (Nordic Games)

10. Grease: The Official Video Game – Wii (505 Games)

Source: http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=1045818&c=1


Can Social Gaming Revive The Music Industry?

Music Industry has often been criticized for failing to come up with a viable business plan to tap the internet market. Piracy and sharing have made matters worse as people tend to assume that everything that’s on the internet is free to be shared. With flurry of peer-to-peer sites and torrents, it seemed things could only get worse for the industry.

3611739526 88edbdb76d m Can Social Gaming Revive The Music Industry?

But there is a silver lining in waiting and it could come in the form of Social gaming. In its first of a kind collaboration, Zynga has partnered with Lady Gaga to launch GagaVille. The game is up an live today. The game gives “little monsters” throughout the world a first listen to exclusive un-released songs from the upcoming when they visit GagaVille, a uniquely designed neighboring farm in FarmVille. The full album also comes bundled as a free download with the purchase of a special Zynga $25 game card, available exclusively at Best Buy.

What impresses me is how beautifully Zynga has placed ads into its most popular game. Gamers are not annoyed by traditional ad formats like pop-ups and at the same time are engaged with the product of the advertisers.

Its a win-win situation for Zynga and Gaga, Zynga benefits by increasing stickiness to its games and earning profits from game cards while Gaga gets a huge publicity for herself and her new album. It could be a new revenue model for both artists and gaming studios which could set a precedent of things to come. Lady Gaga has been attributed forreviving the music industry in 2010. As Grape Juice states, “Similar to a young Madonna, GaGa has used innovative music videos to her stunning stage shows to separate herself from her contemporaries, capturing public interest in a way that no other act has managed in years”.

Gaga has again differentiated herself from others by engaging with a gaming studio. Will she be second time lucky?


Nothing Casual About This Game Obsession

Marketers Take Note: Time Spent on Casual Games Has Gone Up and the Average Age of Players Has Gone Down

Illustration: Martin Kozlowski

They do it at the bus stop, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store. They do it everywhere they can.

The number of people playing casual games and the amount of time they spend playing is unprecedented. “Angry Birds” alone sucks in users for 200 million minutes a day and Zynga’s CityVille entices close to 100 million people a month. This no longer sounds casual.

The reason people have become so committed is easy to identify: the proliferation of the mobile device that’s always in their pockets. The Casual Games Association reports the industry earned $3 billion in mobile revenue in 2009. Mobile devices and social networks have resulted in more people playing more games, giving advertisers an opportunity for innovation and huge new audiences.

“Casual games have been growing thanks to the explosion of mobile — largely the iPhone — and social networks, primarily Facebook,” said Mari Baker, CEO of PlayFirst, creator of the Diner Dash games. Ms. Baker said casual doesn’t refer to the relationship of the player to the game, but means that the game is easy to learn, can be played in short bursts and is relatively inexpensive and fast to develop. “Angry Birds” cost Rovio $100,000 to make and is bringing in more than $2 million a month.

Mobile devices have also had an impact on who plays the game. “Demographically the other thing that’s happened with Facebook and iPhone is the average age of the casual game player has gone down from 35-to-55 to 25-to-45,” Ms. Baker said.

The reason these games are so attractive to today’s consumers is the fact that they can get in and out in five minutes or less, making it appealing to busy people who are running around but have their mobile devices with them. Unlike games such as “World of Warcraft” or “Grand Theft Auto,” which can consume hours a day or more to complete just one stage of the game, casual games give gamers the satisfaction of completing a level without a huge time commitment.

So what can advertisers do with this incredibly huge audience and its love for quick and easy games? Peter Vesterbacka, creator of the “Angry Birds” game, said brands first have to let go of the idea that they need their own game. “We get a lot of requests like ‘You made ‘Angry Birds,’ can you make a game for us?’ Sure we can. But the smart brands are the ones who will work with the apps that have the audiences already and create experiences that will be integrated into the app.”

Mr. Vesterbacka added, “We have the audience, and we get contacted by some of the biggest brands who get it, who want to see how they can integrate their brand into the experience.” He said it was too early for him to discuss any plans “Angry Birds” has with brands for integration, but that 2011 will be a big year for the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Mr. Vesterbacka also noted he is looking to TV as an advertising model for casual games. “In TV, there’s free-to-air, there’s cable, there’s ad supported, there’s pay-per,” Mr. Vesterbacka said. “This is still early days, but we will be much bigger than TV.”

A good way for advertisers to integrate with casual-game content is to sponsor items inside the game. Unlike several years ago, when casual games were mostly for sale, gamers have more choices for free games than ever before.

“That’s a huge shift in gaming,” said David Madden, CEO of game marketer Wild Tangent. “It used to be a software business, but now it’s a content-access business, and users are paying for items inside the free content.”

Mr. Madden said his company creates campaigns for Clorox, Axe Body Spray and Dove. For interacting with a brand inside the game, players get virtual goods that would normally cost money. “In the social-game space, less than 3% of users are spending real money, so there’s a 97% opportunity here for advertisers to sponsor social-game access,” Mr. Madden said.

Another opportunity to innovate with casual games is merging online and offline experiences. PlayFirst’s Chocolatier game created a campaign for Charles Chocolates during which users could opt to purchase real-life versions of the chocolates they made in-game. Players have since created 135 million pieces of Charles Chocolates for their virtual shops — that’s not bad name recognition for a small San Francisco brand.

Ms. Baker, who worked on the Charles Chocolates campaign, said the most important thing for short bursts of game play is that the ad doesn’t get in the way. “You can’t be in the middle of breaking down the wall in ‘Angry Birds’ and have something pop up as an ad,” Ms. Baker said. “The principle of advertising has to be not to interrupt the game play.”

Source: http://adage.com/article/digital/angry-birds-success-shows-casual-games/148091/


Four Reasons Index Ventures Invested In Grey Area

Earlier this week Grey Area announced a whopping 1.9 million euro series A round from Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. This is one of the largest single rounds into the Finnish gaming companies in the recent years for sure. What makes this all the better for the whole country and Northern Europe for that matter, is that the financing came from overseas from globally respected investors. Ben Holmes from Index Ventures outlined four reasons why they invested in Grey Area. I think this is a good read for all entrepreneurs to keep in mind if they are looking for venture capital.

The four reasons Ben outlined in the Index Ventures blog post are also shown below:

* Exploding market – The iPhone and Android ecosystems have transformed and democratised mobile gaming. I have written in the past about how fragmentation and the operator channel made the whole mobile app business a nightmare. This is no longer the case, entrepreneurs can access vast audiences by being creative around marketing rather than using the traditional brute force approaches.

* The right monetization model – We have seen with existing investments in Stardoll, Moshi Monsters and Playfish as well as other companies such as Gameforge and Zygna that free-to-play with in-game purchase is probably the most lucrative business model in gaming currently. In-game purchases were rolled out by Apple last year and now a few of the “Top Grossing” titles in the iPhone appstore charts are free-to-play games. I would predict that over the next year that the majority of mobile gaming revenues will shift to free-to-play games.

* Positive early traction. One of the challenges with finding investments in this sector is that there are literally hundreds / thousands of developers writing for iPhone and Android. Those with substantial traction and monetisation tend to be valued stratospherically. Finding something which was early but was already showing its potential was what we were looking for. Shadow Cities fitted this criteria precisely. The early beta data from Finland showed very promising metrics around both engagement and monetisation. The app fairly quickly became the Top Grossing game in Finland soon after launch. Now just the rest of the world to conquer …

* Great team – Just four people when we first met, but already achieved a lot in a short timeframe and on a shoestring budget. If you want to see how effective entrepreneurs will be once they have money, see how much they can achieve without financing – that is always the best pointer.

From: http://www.arcticstartup.com/2011/02/25/four-reasons-index-ventures-invested-in-grey-area


Zynga Preps The Launch Of RewardVille: Earn Rewards For Playing Games

It’s interesting to see how these guys are looking at every possible angle to get you to spend…and also there plans for taking this stuff onto mobile.

Zynga is preparing to launch RewardVille. No, it’s not another ‘Ville’ game, but a custom rewards program apparently designed to let users earn rewards for playing Zynga games – which you can then use earn virtual currency, which you then use for purchasing in-game items.

Ok, let’s take a step back.

Earlier this month, domain industry vet and blogger Elliot J. Silver wondered whether it was Zynga who acquired the domain name RewardVille.com from its previous owner, for $4,500.

Fusible.com then pretty much confirmed Zynga made the purchase, by uncovering that the social gaming juggernaut had registered a European trademark for ‘Rewardville’ last month.

Fast forward to today, and Rewardville.com now resolves to a website that announces the rewards program in beta – the same website appears when you visit rewards.zynga.com, by the way. There’s a login screen, but you need to have a Zynga account (which, as far as I know, is usually created by connecting to your Facebook account) to get in.

There’s more.

If you look at the menu at the bottom, you’ll see a link to a now deleted FAQ item about RewardVille, which is set to launch in the next few weeks, as you can tell from the screenshot above.

I did some digging, though, and found a blogger that cleverly took screenshots of several pages Zynga put up about RewardVille, which all return errors at this point however.

The screenshot of the overview page is the most revealing:

It reads:

“RewardVille is a new rewards program which lets players earn rewards for Zynga games! Each time you play a participating Zynga game, you’ll earn Zynga Points (zPoints) and increase your Zynga Level (zLevel). At every zLevel, you’ll earn Zynga Coins (zCoins) to use on free, exclusive in-game items in RewardVille!”

I sincerely zHope that was as zConfusing for zYou as it was for zMe.

Participating games include FarmVille, FrontierVille, Mafia Wars, Treasure Isle and Zynga Poker (and not hit game CityVille), although Zynga says they’ll activate zPoints on other games in the future.

On another – now removed – page, Zynga specified that users automatically earn zPoints for playing Zynga games, and will need to register for a Zynga account in order to redeem zCoins. Users will be eligible to earn a maximum of 80 points per game per day, with a maximum of 300 points across the entire Zynga network each day.

We’ve reached out to Zynga for more information, but didn’t hear back immediately.

Zynga image
Website: zynga.com
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Founded: July, 2007
Funding: $519M

Zynga was founded in July 2007 by Mark Pincus and is named for his late American Bulldog, Zinga. Loyal and spirited, Zinga’s name is a nod to a legendary African warrior queen. The early supporting founding team included Eric Schiermeyer, Michael… Learn More


Social Gaming Market to Surpass $1 Billion in 2011 – Revenues up 27.7% this year

The rapid rise in popularity of social networking sites as a venue for casual gaming since Zynga released FarmVille in June 2009 will make social gaming a billion-dollar business this year, eMarketer estimates.

Nearly 62 million US internet users, or 27% of the online audience, will play at least one game on a social network monthly this year, up from 53 million in 2010. Their numbers will continue to grow and, along with them, money spent on virtual goods, lead-generation offers and advertising.

“Forecasts of audience and revenue growth present an opportunity for marketers to promote their brands through social games,” said Paul Verna, author of the forthcoming eMarketer report “Social Gaming: Marketers Make Their Moves.” “Implementations include branded virtual goods, custom games, virtual environments within existing games and lead-generation offers. Some campaigns even combine virtual and real-world items, expanding the gaming experience beyond social networks like Facebook and Myspace.”

Revenues from virtual goods made up the majority of social gaming revenues in the past, and they will continue to bring in the biggest share of dollars through 2012. Ad spending will grow more quickly; in 2011, marketers will spend $192 million to advertise on social games, nearly a 60% increase over 2010. eMarketer forecasts a further rise of 41% in ad spending next year.

US Social Gaming Revenues, by Segment, 2010-2012 (millions)

Rapid growth in ad spending will help its share of total revenues grow from 14.1% in 2010 to 20.5% in 2012, when it will surpass lead-generation offers as a source of developer revenues. Such offers have been a powerful force in the social gaming market but are losing favor as marketers use games for more branding-oriented efforts. Virtual goods will hold steadily onto a share of about 60% of the market.

US Social Gaming Revenue Share, by Segment, 2010 & 2012 (% of total)

“Even though fewer than 6% of US social gamers spend money on virtual items, these avid players will produce revenues of $653 million in the US alone this year,” Verna said. “This is the largest segment of the social gaming economy, and one that marketers are increasingly turning to as a branding vehicle. We expect to see more branded virtual goods as social gaming matures over the next two years.”