Posts Tagged Zynga

Konami is No. 2 social games publisher behind Zynga

Konami has recently received a massive bump to its financial report from its social gaming division: In the first nine months of fiscal 2012, Konami reported its year-on-year gain was driven by social gaming, which generated $348 million in revenue, up $127 million from 2011. Without context, these numbers can seem impressive, but meaningless.

Fortunately, Careen Yapp provided a background for Konami’s finances during an “ask these publishers anything” panel at Gamescom: Last year estimates put Konami as the second-most-prolific social games publisher behind Zynga.

Zynga, the market giant, posted $1.14 billion in revenue for 2011 from social gaming, with $1.07 billion of that in microtransactions alone. This actually translated to a net loss of $404.3 million for Zynga, and its stock continues to remain far below original estimates, along with public perception of the company.

Being No. 2 to Zynga and being in a position to create products other than social games isn’t such a bad spot for Konami to be in.

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Zynga not ready to plunge into mobile

SAN FRANCISCO: Zynga Inc CEO Mark Pincus said Tuesday he remains wary of investing as heavily in mobile games as he has in proven Web-based titles like FarmVille despite an industrywide push toward catering to mobile devices.

Game industry observers in recent months have stressed that developers must adapt as Internet users worldwide shift toward spending time on smartphones and tablets rather than desktop computers.

Concerns that Zynga continues to rely too heavily on its Web titles built on top of Facebook’s platform have weighed on the stock, which has fallen roughly 50 per cent from its $10 IPO price in December.

Speaking at an industry conference in San Francisco, Pincus said it was “obvious” that game companies should be investing heavily in mobile games – Zynga itself splashed $183 million to acquire New York-based game studio OMGPOP in March – but added the company’s emphasis remained on Web games, given uncertainties about how the mobile platform will mature.

“We invest north of $10 million in a potential franchise game like the Ville,” Pincus said. “We can’t make that investment yet confidently in mobile. And I’m confident in the next couple of years we’ll get to the point where we can. But it’s not there yet and I think it’s a little chicken or egg.”

Pincus said he was held back by some unresolved questions over the still-maturing mobile platform, such as whether the Adobe Air and HTML5 technologies will become accepted standards.

“We’ve made a huge investment in mobile, organically building up teams and products and with one large acquisition,” Pincus said. “We’re at the point where it’s obvious that we all should be investing heavily. But I don’t think we have that all-in confident moment. The flywheel isn’t there in an obvious way.”

Pincus’s hesitation in the mobile market stands in contrast to Zynga’s all-out approach to its Web hits, which feature sophisticated social mechanics that are constantly analyzed and refined by dozens of Zynga engineers even years after they are first released.

Titles like CityVille and FarmVille, built off Facebook’s platform, have helped Zynga squeeze $1.1 billion in revenue in 2011 out of an average 223 million monthly active players in 2011.

In a move to wean itself off of Facebook, Zynga announced in June that it would open its platform to encourage independent developers to build games on top of Zynga’s own network.

Zynga also unveiled a new slate of games. For its latest offerings, Zynga has poured 100 developers who have worked “well over a year and a half” to ship its new titles “The Ville,” a Sims-like social game, and “ChefVille,” a kitchen management game, Pincus said.

But any efforts to roll out these games across multiple platforms will prove difficult, if the past were any indication, Pincus acknowledged.

“We were too ambitious at first with FarmVille,” Pincus said. “We spent a huge amount of engineering to build a totally synchronous game experience.”

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Zynga plans to build a gamers’ social network

SAN FRANCISCO: Zynga Inc unveiled a social network for gamers dubbed “Zynga with Friends” on Tuesday, hoping to wean itself from a longstanding, symbiotic relationship with Facebook Inc, while becoming a major Internet destination.

The company founded by Mark Pincus will also provide programming tools to help third-party developers devise online and mobile games based on its own software, expanding its slate further beyond mainstays such as “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars.”

“We’re opening our doors today and opening Zynga Partners for Mobile. We are inviting developers from all over the world to come and join our network,” said David Ko, chief mobile officer.

Zynga wants to create an ecosystem with “best-in-class mobile developers and best-in-class mobile games,” Ko said.

Zynga shares closed 5 percent lower on Tuesday as investors saw little in the announcement – which included the planned social network, as well as some new, casual games – to drive strong long-term growth.

The stock has lost a third of its value this year on concerns about its dependence on Facebook for the lions’ share of its revenue – on a platform experiencing slower growth.

The new social network “is a natural step in the right direction,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert W Baird. “It might help them become less dependent on Facebook but … they will continue to remain dependent on Facebook for quite some time.

“One area where they may have disappointed people is, they are not showing any games in development that target a more core gamer, or so-called mid-core gamer. That’s something where we’ve seen a lot of growth for Facebook, and that’s potentially a missed opportunity for Zynga.”

A SOCIAL BEVY

On Tuesday, executives took the stage at their San Francisco headquarters to unveil a bevy of interactive features for its Zynga.com website, as it tries to develop a stand-alone network that can hook existing gamers.

The company is launching “Zynga with Friends” soon on the Internet and for mobile users, hoping to connect players across its entire game portfolio, which also includes “Cityville.”

Zynga General Manager Manuel Bronstein said the platform eventually could have as many as 290 million users with some 2.8 billion daily social interactions once it is rolled out, but he did not specify a time frame.

The company is also trying to boost mobile usage, targeting a small but faster-growing wireless device gaming market that is quickly becoming a crucial battleground for so-called casual or social gaming.

Zynga also announced a new title, “Matching with Friends”, to boost its offerings for mobile phones.

The company said it will also team up with Atari SA to develop games, but did not elaborate. Zynga executives said they will provide developers a set of “application programming interfaces” – APIs – to make it easier for them to craft games using Zynga’s software.

The company’s stock fell about 5 percent to close at $5.76 toward on Tuesday.

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Zynga aiming to be the ‘Google of games’

For a company that makes games like Farmville and contributes close to 15% of Facebook’s revenue, Zynga is now aiming to be the ‘Google of games’. “We want to be the gaming company that people cannot live without,” its India head Shan Kadavil told ET at the company’s Bangalore office, its first office outside San Francisco.

However, ever since it went public last year, Zynga has been facing investors’ concerns in the US about its declining usage and long-term growth. Kadavil talks about Zynga’s growth strategies and the changes in Indian gaming industry. Excerpts:

Where is Zynga positioned now?

In July 2007 when Zynga was born, our strategy was to connect the world through social games. If you looked at the e-commerce domain, you had Amazon, if you looked at search, you had Google. These had become brand names and people trusted them. There wasn’t one such space in the gaming industry.

There was an unmet need in gaming and that’s where we want to establish ourselves. Today, 292 million people play our games every month on the web globally – about 65 million everyday. We also have 21 million users from mobile everyday.

The India centre in Bangalore is two years old and it is the only multi-functional center outside the US. Some of our popular games like Mafia Wars and Cityville are run from Zynga’s Bangalore center.

We have teams that take care of the volume of traffic, technology teams that work on data analysis and engineering. Interestingly, we also have a leading Bollywood art director, a cricket commentator, a children’s book author and a fashion designer on board.

Two years down the line, what role would Zynga’s India centre really play?

Almost everything that we do in a particular game happens in India. For instance, in Mafia Wars, from its conceptualisation to the delivery of features happened in Bangalore.

The General Manager for the game is based in India. That is how we operate. So the Bangalore centre is responsible how successful this game is. We are also creating our own IP. As far as Zynga is concerned, we are in the middle of three big shifts. One, social networks are changing the entire business.

Secondly, the app economy has transformed this industry and opened it up to a new level. Third, there is a big shift happening in terms of how you move from advertising-based revenue to virtual currencies in the gaming world. The India team contributes to all three areas from the technology perspective as well as the gaming perspective.

What else is different about running a gaming company? How hard is it to find the right creative talent?

The right talent is really hard to get because this is a very different industry. When we started out, we thought we’ll get enough talent from other gaming companies but that didn’t happen. I think what really helped us was the Bollywood industry.

They use high end technology and have some really creative people. We have found great talent from that industry. We also have a lot of expats working here.

What is happening in India’s gaming industry? How has it evolved over the year?

In India there is a fairly large traction on the mobile side and it is a quite healthy reflection of where this market is headed to. In the past, gaming has always been a niche segment for us. There were few domestic gaming companies and they were mostly developing for some US-based firms.

But that’s changing, thanks to social networks and mobile apps. Mobile is changing the way we operate and think. Zynga itself concentrates a lot on mobile and last year we launched seven games and in Q1 of 2012 about 11 games on mobile.

What are your long-term goals?

We are constantly looking at both organic and inorganic ways to grow. At this point we’re hiring as fast as we can. We are very selective because it is hard to find the appropriate talent in this space.

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Facebook expands ad business to Zynga’s website

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc has begun showing ads on Zynga Inc’s website, the first time the company has distributed ads beyond the borders of its own website and raising the possibility that Facebook could eventually launch an online advertising network.

“People may now see ads and sponsored stories from Facebook on Zynga.com,” said Facebook spokesperson Tucker Bounds. He said that Facebook does not share information about people or advertisers with Zynga, and that Facebook’s advertisers do not have any new “targeting criteria.”

Asked if Facebook was planning to create a full-fledged online ad network that distributes ads on other sites, Bounds said “we are only showing ads on Zynga right now.”

Zynga was not immediately available for comment.

Shares of Facebook, the world’s No.1 social network, were up 4.4 percent to $33.25 in mid-afternoon trading on Friday.

Facebook’s stock has been under pressure since its initial public offering last month, due in part to concerns about the company’s slowing revenue growth.

Facebook made most of its $3.7 billion in revenue last year from ads that appear on its site.

An ad network could significantly increase the reach of Facebook ads, offering an important new source of revenue growth.

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Zynga mines arcade games with “Ruby Blast”

SAN FRANCISCO: Zynga on Tuesday sought to mine the popularity of another arcade style social game with the release of “Ruby Blast” for play at Facebook or at the company’s online arena.

The new title builds on the success of “Bubble Safari,” which rocketed to popularity on Facebook after its launch in May.

“Bubble Safari” and Zynga virtual poker game “Texas HoldEm” were the most played games at Facebook on a daily basis, according to figures from industry tracker AppData.

“Ruby Blast” was the first collaboration between Zynga’s studios in Seattle and Beijing.

“Being here in Seattle adds to the creative vision of the game and our team comes from the core videogame industry,” said Zynga Seattle design director Jonathan Grant.

“On the Beijing side they have been awesome at the execution of development and a lot of the nitty-gritty.”

Backgrounds of those on the game’s team ranged from having worked on blockbuster videogames such as “Halo” to making casual games for moms or directing an animated film set for release later this year.

“We came up with a really great combination of ideas for an overall unique experience that has really compelling game play,” Grant said.

“Ruby is a pretty unique character with some quirks unlike any other character in social games.”

The game character is Ruby Stone, described as an “awesome international intrepid archaeologist” who travels the world digging up treasures and surmounting obstacles.

Play is tried-and-true “match-three” style where beating levels and scoring points depends on quickly clicking on clusters of three or more virtual gems of the same color.

“We wanted the game to be simple and approachable; something my mom could play,” Grant said. “It is all about scoring points. The wrinkle is that you have 40 seconds to play.”

Drilling down shrewdly can unearth extra time or other “power-ups” such as extra seconds of play or blazing meteors or cherry bombs that blast away stones.

Social features in the game include a leader board that ranks friends according to high scores, with prizes awarded weekly to those in the top three positions.

Zynga planned to enable friends to compete against one another in real time.

“Ruby Blast” is the first Zynga game optimized to take advantage of graphics capabilities of Adobe Flash 11 Player to add rich animation scenes to play.

“It will feel new to players with some innovation, cool social features and a look and feel unlike anything out there on Facebook now,” Grant said.

The game was rolled out in 15 languages and could be found online at apps.facebook.com/rubyblast or at zynga.com.

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Draw Something game show pilot coming to CBS

CBS will team up with Zynga to produce a pilot for a primetime gameshow based on the mobile game Draw Something . CBS beat a number of other networks in a bidding war to take on the Sony Pictures Television, Embassy Row, and Ryan Seacrest Productions project. Ryan Seacrest, Michael Davies, and RSP CEO Adam Sher are teaming up as executive producers on the project. The show has players and celebrities use their drawing skills to win money. Seacrest’s website added that “viewers at home will also be able play along and compete with for prizes using phones and tablets, ushering in a new era in game show viewing.” Seacrest is not anticipated to be the host of the show, according to Variety .

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Zynga manager moves to social networking start-up

SAN FRANCISCO: A Zynga Inc executive overseeing one of the social gaming company’s most successful games has left to join Identified, a startup social network for young professionals.

Brian Chu, formerly the lead project manager of Zynga’s hit CityVille, said Friday he will be vice president of product at the San Francisco-based startup.

CityVille had been Zynga’s biggest hit over the past year, only recently ceding its position as the most popular game on Facebook to another Zynga title, Texas HoldEm Poker.

In recent months, several notable mid-level executives have left Zynga, which went public in December but has suffered a steep fall in its stock price. In March Groupon Inc, which runs the daily deals website, poached Curtis Lee, a Zynga director of product management.

Chu said he left Zynga amicably and with “the door open.” “It was an intense time and very stressful,” Chu said. “But I wanted the opportunity to take on the challenge of something as big as professional identity and companies like LinkedIn.”

Identified, which raised $21 million in its second-round venture capital financing, claims a registered user base of 10 million. The startup provides a resume-building and networking service for young professionals under 30 – similar to LinkedIn, but with “gamified” features.

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Zynga has new ‘With Friends’ game

NEW YORK: There’s no spelling required in Zynga’s latest mobile game, “Matching With Friends.” It’s being releasing for the iPhone and the iPad.

For those who play the popular, Scrabble-inspired game “Words With Friends,” the latest title should feel familiar. Instead of using letters to form words, though, players get groups of colorful blocks that they then must match with blocks of the same color.

The game is being released Thursday in Australia and Canada. It will be available worldwide, including in the US, in the coming weeks. Zynga Inc. is not giving an exact time for the game’s worldwide release.

Like other mobile games from Zynga, “Matching With Friends” will have a free, ad-supported version and a paid version.

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Zynga Comes Out With ZombieSmash And Fruit Ninja Combo Zombie Swipeout

Leave it to a couple of bioinformatics Ph.D. holders to develop a couple of zombie-themed iOS games. I am, of course, referring to the aptly named GameDoctors, which consists of brothers Matthias and Thomas Hoechsmann. GameDoctors has just released its sort of sequel to its 2010 smash hit ZombieSmash, Zombie Swipeout. Zombie Swipeout is the German studio’s first game launched under its new designation, Zynga Mobile Germany. If you’re wondering what the name of the well-known social gaming giant is doing in the new name of GameDoctors, the reason is quite obvious. Thanks in no small part to the success of the comedic castle defense game ZombieSmash, the studio was acquired by Zynga some months ago. Zombie Swipeout, whose launch trailer appears below, may be appropriately described as a cross between ZombieSmash and Fruit Ninja. If you’re familiar with the popular fruit slicing game, I need not remind you that it’s made by neither Zynga Mobile Germany nor Zynga itself, but by Halfbrick Studios. It’s quite tempting, then, to immediately label Zombie Swipeout as a Fruit Ninja knockoff. In response to this matter, Matthias said to Pocket Gamer, “We know the competition … You have to innovate to be successful. We have to come with something that moves the bar.”

Among the variations offered in Zombie Swipeout is the inclusion of coins to be slashed along with the pesky zombies. Typical of Zynga games, these coins can be used to buy special weapons and power-ups in the in-game store. Keep in mind, though, that whatever weapon or power-up you’re using, don’t ever slice Joey, the lone good guy from ZombieSmash. But in the event that you do cut Joey in half, you can opt to resurrect him with some virtual currency as, fittingly enough, a zombie. The game also has a weekly tournament that pits you against your friends via Facebook or through the game’s own social component. Zombie Swipeout is already available in the Canadian App Store. It’s set to be released across the rest of the App Store world within the next few days. Will a heap of slashed zombies a day keep the doctor away?

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