Take-Two Wants to Use Social Gaming to 'Build Bridges' to AAA Franchises

July 22, 2011 -

Is the Grand Theft Auto franchise heading to Facebook and other social networks? Probably at some point, along with Take-Two's other high profile franchises, but at this point the company is dipping its toes into the waters. Speaking to IndustryGamers, Take-Two COO Karl Slatoff says that the recent launch of Civilization World on Facebook is the beginning of a larger strategy that will ultimately see social and traditional game spaces converging ever so slightly.

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The Perils of Advertising Google+ on Facebook

July 19, 2011 -

Sometimes when you get too bold the powers that be give you a slap across the face. The powers that be in this case are the folks at Facebook, who taught one developer who placed a series of Google+ ads on Facebook a serious lesson. App developer Michael Lee Johnson wanted more people to add him on Google+, so he decided to create an ad and put it on Facebook. The ad featured a headshot of the developer and text asking people to join his Google+ circles.

The ad reads: "If you’re lucky enough to have a Google+ account, add Michael Lee Johnson, Internet Geek, App Developer, Technological Virtuoso."

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PS3 Jailbreaker Reportedly Working for Facebook

June 28, 2011 -

George "Geohot" Hotz has taken a job at social networking giant Facebook, according to multiple reports and multiple sources. But the most telling evidence that he has been working as a software engineer for the company since May 9 is his own Facebook page where he lists "Facebook" as his current employer.

Hotz is best known for jailbreaking the iPhone and then the PlayStation 3. In the case of the latter, he did this to re-enable the use of Linux via the "OtherOS" feature of the PlayStation 3. Sony was not pleased and sued the hacker. Ultimately Sony and Hotz settled that dispute, with most of the terms undisclosed to the public. The only thing Hotz said publically was that he made a pact with the company to no longer engage in hacking the PS3 and to not share any further information on his work in that regard.

Source: GamePro

12 comments

Richard Garriott's Social Games Start-Up Gets More Cash

June 1, 2011 -

Richard Garriott, the man who brought us the Ultima series of computer role-playing games, and the ground-breaking massively multiplayer online game Ultima Online, has managed to raise a boatload of cash for his new social games start-up. Garriott's social games studio Portalarium has secured additional funding, bringing the total amount of capital at its disposal to $3.6 million.

The new cash injection - the amount of which was not disclosed - came from London investor m8 Capital with San Francisco-based Founders Fund.

The cash will allow Garriott's firm to release its first game in the next few months. Details on that game are scant, save that it will launch on Facebook, but Garriott’s mantra of "premium games" on social platforms are the only hints that have been given at this point.

Expect to hear more about the game at E3 next week in Los Angeles.

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Report: Zynga Preparing for IPO

May 24, 2011 -

According to a report in AllThingsD (by way of VentureBeat), social game developer and publisher Zynga is ready to file its initial public offering. The publication cites an anonymous source close to the situation. The San Francisco-based company was rumored to be raising $500 million on a valuation of $10 billion a few months ago, but details were never announced. AllThingsD says that Zynga will value itself higher than $10 billion.

Sources have told AllThingsD that Goldman Sachs will be one of lead bankers for the Zynga offering and that Zynga has hired John Schappert, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts. The latter hasn’t been announced, but sources have confirmed it with the publication.

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TLC Sues Zynga Over 'Oregon Trail' Missions in FrontierVille

May 19, 2011 -

The Learning Company, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt subsidiary, has filed a lawsuit against Zynga in the Massachusetts district court over "Oregon Trail" missions in its Facebook game FrontierVille. The complaint alleges that Zynga is infringing on its classic educational game Oregon Trail and seeks an immediate injunction to halt Zynga's missions while the court sorts the whole mess.

The lawsuit uses a YouTube trailer of Zynga's missions as evidence that the similarities between them and its classic game - now also a Facebook game - are striking.

TLC says in its complaint that the social game maker's use of its intilectual property is "deliberate theft of the goodwill associated with the iconic The Oregon Trail Mark, which the company has spent millions of dollars promoting since 1971."

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Bethesda Promises Patches, Free DLC for Brink

May 17, 2011 -

Bethesda was not satisfied with the launch day update that was supposed to deal with lag on the console versions of the game.. but didn't.. To make up for it, the publisher and the game's developer promises several updates to deal with the lag problem , along with free "apology" DLC for the game.

A launch day patch failed to make Brink lag-free on consoles as frustrated gamers continue to stutter their way through online battles. Bethesda and Splash Damage say more updates are on the way to fix the problem, and as an apology, the publisher and developer plan to make the first DLC pack free.

As Brink fans await the patches, Splash Damage has created a workaround in the form of a configuration change for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players. Freeplay multiplayer matches automatically are set to 8-player (4v4) games. Matches featuring 16 players are available, but have to be selected through the new Big Teams selection in the Brink multiplayer menu.

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Zynga Goes Gaga

May 11, 2011 -

Lady Gaga and Zynga have inked a deal to transform the popular Facebook game FarmVille with various Gaga-isms. The deal is meant to promote the launch of Lady Gaga's latest album "Born this Way." Launching May 17, the promotion gives players the opportunity to unlock and listen to "little monsters" by playing GagaVille, a neighboring farm in FarmVille filled with unicorns, crystals and sheep on motorcycles. 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.

"I want to celebrate and share ‘Born This Way’ with my little monsters in a special way that’s never been done before," said Lady Gaga. "Zynga has created a magical place in FarmVille where my fans can come play, and be the first to listen to the album."

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The Death of Osama, SMB Style

May 9, 2011 -

Modders and creative types are having fun mocking the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of an elite U.S. Navy Seals, but one of the best pieces of video game-related comedy on the subject comes from a French television show that uses Super Mario Bros. as the backdrop. Instead of Mario and Bowser, the animation features former U.S. President George W. Bush chasing down Osama in various stages until the 2008 election where Obama takes over. Check out the video to your left to watch the hijinx.

Source: Go Nintendo by way of Kotaku

2 comments

LOGIN Conference Adds Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp

May 2, 2011 -

The LOGIN Conference has added a Facebook game developer "boot camp" to its annual Seattle area event. The Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp is a day-long track that will take place Wednesday, May 18th. The "track" covers topics such as current tools for metrics, monetization and other significant topics important to social game developers. The Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp is open to all LOGIN Conference attendees, but those interested in attending will need to reserve their spot when registering for the conference (space is limited).

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Will Wright Talks Bar Karma on April 26

April 22, 2011 -

A live chat with Will Wright (who you may know better as the founder of Maxis and the creator of such hits as SimCity, The Sims, and Spore) will be held on April 26 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM EST. Wright won't be there to talk about games; he's answering questions from attendees about his community-developed television series, which is inching towards the season finale.

This might be the last chance for viewers to ask Wright questions about the show this season, so if you want to participate log in here on the aforementioned date and time, and post your questions to the Bar Karma page.

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Playfish Dumps Currency for Facebook Credits

April 19, 2011 -

EA's social games division Playfish announced that it is dumping its virtual currency in favor of Facebook's new currency. All of the company's games will now use Facebook Credits, putting Playfish in line with a recent Facebook edict that all social game developers would need to offer support for its new currency in all of their games by July 1.

Speaking to its fans on the Playfish blog, the company said the following:

"Rest assured, you will not lose any of the Playfish Cash you have bought up to now."

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America 2049: A Social Game With a Message

April 19, 2011 -

A new Facebook social game that combines elements of an ARG (alternate reality game) and an RPG with video footage and serious messages is getting lots of attention this week. Set in a dystopian future, America 2049 charges players with confronting human-rights issues that plague the society. Players serve as agents in the Council on American Heritage, who deal with such issues as sex trafficking, racial discrimination, abortion, immigration, labor, religion and LGBT issues. This is all played out in storyline that spans 12 weeks.

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Zynga Shuts Down MySpace Mafia Wars

April 19, 2011 -

Zynga has shut down the MySpace version of its organized crime social strategy game, Mafia Wars. The company has also asked MySpace Mafia Wars users to go to Mafiawars.com. In a post on the game's official MySpace page, Zynga confirmed that Mafia Wars was discontinued on April 18 and that the game would continue - with new content - on mafiawars.com. Zynga seems to be done with MySpace at this point; last month Zynga discontinued another MySpace game, RPG Street Racing.

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Playfish Killing Three Facebook Games for Underperformance

April 12, 2011 -

Despite still garnering around 40,000 daily visits, several Playfish games are getting the axe. The wholly owned EA Facebook developer says that it will close several games because they are no longer garnering the kind of traffic they deem as "good." The games, Pirates Ahoy, Poker Rivals and Gangster City will each go offline on June 7. Playfish urges users to spend their "Playfish cash" on its other games.

The firm, owned by Electronic Arts, said the trio of games "are no longer performing at a level in which they can continue to be supported."

According to data gathered by InsideSocialGames suggests that there is still consumer interest in these games. Pirates Ahoy, for example, still has around 40,000 daily active users and attracts approximately 267,000 customers per month.

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Empire Avenue Lands on Facebook

April 6, 2011 -

Empire Avenue is now available as a Facebook App. The financial-social simulation game was developed by former BioWare employees and basically lets players trade in other people via a virtual stock market. Participants buy and sell shares in their friends, family, celebrities, etc. As you earn a higher stock price for yourself and others, you gather virtual currency and achievements. The goal of the game is to be more social and to show your appreciation for the social activities of others that use things such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Empire Avenue is at least worth a look if you haven’t checked it out already and it being on Facebook makes it easy to jump right in. Plus it doesn't hurt that the BioWare founders have invested in it. Anyway, you can check it out at apps.facebook.com/empireavenue or at its original location - empireavenue.com.


Report: Zynga Seeking Tax Incentives from San Francisco

March 25, 2011 -

According to a Market Watch report, Farmville maker Zynga is seeking a tax break from the city of San Francisco to keep its offices open there. The social game developer said that it is "encouraged" by ongoing negotiations with local government over the future of its San Francisco headquarters. Market Watch claims that Zynga recently threatened to leave the city if it did not receive tax exemptions similar to those recently given to Twitter.

A spokesperson for the company admitted to GameIndustry.biz that it is engaged in "serious discussions" with city officials, though it declined to comment further.

Zynga moved into its current location in September of last year and has space for around 2000 employees at the site, according to GI.biz.

16 comments | Read more

Car Town Drives For Facebook Red Cross Donations

March 21, 2011 -

Players of the Facebook game Car Town can help Japanese earthquake and Pacific tsunami relief efforts by buying virtual goods and upgrades for their cars. With 7.5 million players, there's obviously some potential to do some good. Car Town creator Cie Games promises to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the virtual emergency vehicle to the American Red Cross and its Japan disaster relief efforts.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan," said Dennis Suggs, chief creative officer of Cie Games. "The Car Town Red Cross program is an easy way for Car Town players all over the world to contribute to the relief effort."

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Zynga Supports Japanese Relief Efforts

March 14, 2011 -

Zynga has launched a fundraising initiative across more than seven of its games in partnership with Save the Children to support relief efforts in Japan. Zynga will donate 100 percent of the purchase price of newly created virtual items to the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children Emergency Fund, created by Save the Children to support the children of Japan’s ongoing needs.

In addition, Facebook is donating all of its Facebook Credits generated through the in-game purchases to support the fundraising efforts.

A rundown of how players can donate - from Zynga - can be found below:

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Zynga: The New Hardcore Gamer is 40, Female

March 14, 2011 -

Facebook game maker Zynga says that the new hardcore gamer is not that teenager playing Halo or Gears of War, but the 40-year-old woman playing games such as Farmville and Cityville. Zynga brand advertising head Manny Anekal says that the company's explosive growth would not have been possible if not for that particular segment of the market.

"More women are playing Farmville than watching soap operas," Anekal told WebProNews recently.

He added that 40-year-old women spent more time playing Zynga games than any other demographic and are the same segment that spends the most money on virtual purchases.

Figures from Anekal suggest that 55 percent of all social gamers in the US are female while, 53 percent of Zynga players are females between 25 and 44.

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Really NCIS Writers, Really?

March 10, 2011 -

Does it hurt to do a little research before writing an episode of NCIS? Apparently it's a major hassle for whomever penned an episode of the popular CBS crime drama about an MMO, as evidenced in this clip from the show. The storyline features a fake MMO called Fear Tower 3 and a "high scorer" named "MaxDestructo." Are they playing breakout or an MMO? Maybe they meant to convey that these gamers were playing an online game like Quake Live or Battlefield Heroes. I do not know, so watch the video and judge for yourselves.

Source: Kotaku

13 comments

MP Approves Facebook Game at Work, Speaker Says No

March 8, 2011 -

Are you busy every single second at work?

Caroline Beinke isn’t.  A staffer for Australian MP Victor Dominello, she submitted a request for “extended internet access” so she could play Bejeweled Blitz on her PC at work.  "When I have long conversations on the phone to constituents it is my version of doodling, a mental chewing gum of sorts," she said.

Can you guess how Dominello responded to the request?  Well, if you read the title of this story it’s unlikely anything’s going to come as a surprise to you but here goes:

"My staff work very very hard.  If they are sitting at their desk on hold to a department for 15 minutes, I do not have a problem with it.  I have no difficulty with this request provided it is acceptable to the Clerk/Speaker.”

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How it Feels to Be Harassed on Xbox Live

February 25, 2011 -

A hilarious video from College Humor called "Girls Can Be Jerks On Xbox Live Too, You Know" turns the tables on a male player as a gaggle of girl players treat him like a piece of meat. It's hilarious and most definitely not safe for work, but worth watching.

9 comments

A Spicy Evening with We Dare

February 25, 2011 -

Update: Ubisoft has blocked its own video in the United States on YouTube. Watching the video brings up the following copyright notice:

"We Dare - Have a spicy evening !"

This video contains content from Ubisoft, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

Original Story: A promotional video for Ubisoft's decidedly adult Wii Party game, We Dare, will either make you cringe or laugh. Is the video some clever joke marketing or are these people serious? It's hard to tell..

This party game is supposed to be played with your "very attractive friends" and asks you to engage in some questionable behavior using the Wii Remote.

The mini-games will lead to some promiscuous behavior or a fistfight with a friend. To quote that classic comedy song, "Hands off my wife, the party's over."

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GDC Rant Session: Social Game Developers Strike Back

February 24, 2011 -

An interesting Game Developers Conference session will give social game developers a chance to lash out at all the haters. this year' "rant session" is called "No Freaking Respect! Social Game Developers Rant Back," and is co-sponsored by former IGDA head Jason Della Rocca and Eric Zimmerman - or as like to call them, Rantmasters General (both have delivered potent rants at previous GDC's over the years).

The tongue-in-cheek description of the rant session goes explains that this year's rant "has invited the people who everyone is blaming with ruining the industry: social network game developers." Participants include such notable developers as Brenda Brathwaite (Loot Drop), Trip Hawkins (Digital Chocolate), Brian Reynolds (Zynga), Steve Meretzky (Playdom), Ian Bogost (Georgia Institute of Technology), Chris Hecker (D6), and Scott Jon Siegel (Playdom). The full description:

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Zynga Settles Digital Chocolate Mafia Wars Lawsuit

February 23, 2011 -

Zynga and Digital Chocolate have settled a lawsuit over the Facebook game Mafia Wars. Digital Chocolate sued the world's top Facebook game maker in August of last year over its Mafia Wars mobile game released in 2004. The company alleged that Zynga infringed on its copyright. Even though Digital Chocolate claimed ownership of the name, Zynga attempted to trademark the name with the US patent office. In 2009 Zynga settled with Mob Wars creator David Maestri, who alleged "strong similarities" between Mafia Wars and Mob Wars.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

On a related note Digital Chocolate has secured series D investment of $12 million from Intel Capital, with further funding from prior investors Sutter Hill Ventures and Bridgescale Partners. Today's announcement brings the total amount of investment in the company to right around $43.9 million.

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More Bulletstorm Musings from Fox News

February 21, 2011 -

In yet another editorial masquerading as a news report (the last one being the whole Carole Lieberman "Games cause Rape" story), Fox News writer John Brandon takes another shot at stirring the pot about Epic Games' Bulletstorm. In his latest article, Brandon uses the censorship of the game in Germany as a jump-off point to attack Rock, Paper, Shotgun's dissection of his first article, to claim that "anyone" can buy the game online, and to throw some more quotes around. Of the censorship in Germany, Brandon opens by baiting gamers with the line: "It's too violent for Germany. But it's okay for America?”

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Report: Zynga Valued at $7 - 10 Billion

February 18, 2011 -

Stories from All Things Digital and the New York Times report that Farmville and CityVille maker Zynga managed to raise $500 million in investment based on a valuation of $7 - $10 billion dollars. The Wall Street Journal contradicts that $500 Million, reporting that the company raised around $250 million.

All Things Digital claims that "Zynga has already raised more than $500 million from a panoply of Silicon Valley VCs, such as Kleiner, Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Russia’s DST Global."

The New York Times report goes on to say that the investment may "pave the way for an initial public offering next year."

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Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

EA Responds to Fox News Bulletstorm Segment

February 9, 2011 -

EA has responded to a recent Fox News story that asked the question "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" and (thanks to one participant) made the amazing claim that the increase in rapes can be attributed to playing games. There were other amazing claims in the report, but the most disturbing words came from Psychologist Carol Lieberman, who insisted that there was a correlation between playing sex scenes in games and rape. She told Fox news:

"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games." Of course, there is no research to back up her claims that we are aware of, but the truth should never get in the way of a good talking point.

 
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Whose next half decade of superhero films are you most looking forward to?:

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MechaTama31Yeah, don't see myself getting a Vita or a PSTV...10/31/2014 - 12:04am
E. Zachary KnightWatch Ultron ruin all your Disney childhood memories in this How The Ultron Teaser Should Have Ended. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra1sBRLRFtc10/30/2014 - 9:23pm
ZippyDSMleeConster:they finally made a working worth while PSP emulator.10/30/2014 - 8:10pm
quiknkoldMechatama31, you can get VC2 on the Vita and Vita TV. you have to buy it through PSN on PS3 and transfer it to vita and then playstation tv. I have it on my PS TV and it works10/30/2014 - 7:15pm
MechaTama31I loved Valkyria Chronicles. Still super cheesed off that the sequels were PSP-only... :/10/30/2014 - 6:57pm
ConsterI played Steamworld Dig on the 3DS, and it's pretty fun.10/30/2014 - 6:51pm
Matthew WilsonRECOMMENDED: OS: Windows 7 Processor: Intel Core2 Duo @ 2.8GHz (or equivalent) Memory: 3 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 (or equivalent) Hard Drive: 25 GB available space10/30/2014 - 5:49pm
Matthew Wilsonhere hare the system requirements. make of ithem what you will. MINIMUM: OS: Windows Vista/Windows 7 Processor: Intel Core2 Duo @ 2.0GHz (or equivalent) Memory: 2 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 240 (or equivalent) Hard Drive: 25 GB available spa10/30/2014 - 5:48pm
Andrew EisenStill a game I really want to play. Hope it's a solid port.10/30/2014 - 5:42pm
Matthew WilsonValkyria Chronicles pc port needs 25ggb. not bad exept this game came out in 08 on the ps3.10/30/2014 - 4:56pm
james_fudgeEZK: my sarcasm senses are tingling ;)10/30/2014 - 4:21pm
Andrew EisenIf it's any consolation, Xbox owners, Wii U owners don't get the game at all. And if we did, we'd probably never get the DLC.10/30/2014 - 4:19pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://kotaku.com/destinys-new-dlc-kinda-screws-over-xbox-players-1652294153 Sucks when the shoe's on the other foot, huh.10/30/2014 - 4:12pm
E. Zachary KnightSo a vocational school in Oklahoma is being evacuated because someone found a briefcase in the bathroom. Imagine that. A briefcase ina school. That's unpossible.10/30/2014 - 3:33pm
prh99Also, Nintendo wants to watch you sleep..for Science! (*in best Cave Johnson voice) http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/10/nintendo-wants-to-watch-you-sleep-for-science/10/30/2014 - 2:47pm
prh99I got it in a Humble Bundle, it's ok but the hype is definitely over blown. Also, only being able dig in the four cardinal directions made for some irksome digging..10/30/2014 - 2:38pm
E. Zachary KnightI enjoyed it. It was very short, but rewarding and fun.10/30/2014 - 2:35pm
Andrew EisenAgainst my better judgement (game looks boring to me), I purchased Steamworld Dig. It's highly praised and it was on sale. Hopefully I'll be wrong about it and think it's as awesome as everyone else.10/30/2014 - 2:09pm
quiknkoldhttp://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/10/femme-doms-of-videogames-bayonetta-doesnt-care-if.html10/30/2014 - 1:15pm
quiknkoldIf he calls himself the Effing Robot King, I can die happy10/30/2014 - 1:14pm
 

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