Posts Tagged ‘zynga’

Give8-Bit Collates Videogame Charity Campaigns

A nice thing, probably.

More and more people are using videogames as a medium through which to support charities. As reported by Wired, Give8-Bit is a YouTube channel designed to act as a hub for highlighting videogame-powered charitable campaigns and documenting their impact.

Come watch the launch video of game developers who are doing nice things, and of Ian Livingstone in a choir.

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Bought The Farm: Mass Lay-Offs At Zynga

The bursting of the Facebook gaming bubble was as inevitable as post-feeding projectile vomit from my newborn daughter (which is why I’ve not been on the site for the last three weeks, but fear not, I shall not be turning my every sentence into a parenting reference as a result. For the record, obviously she’s beautiful and amazing though. And very vomity). Much as I’m glad to see the industry-wide madness about wait/spam/pay anti-games dying down, it gives me no pleasure to hear that the cost of this is so many jobs. Around 500 people were yesterday put out of work as a result of one-time social gaming goliath/habitual copycat Zynga plunging into chaos.
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EA And Zynga’s Legal Battle Ends With A Whimper

Lawsuits are nasty business. Accusations fly like hot lead, and all that’s left afterwards are the coldest of feelings. Oh, and sometimes millions of dollars in legal fees. Those too. I suppose, however, that it helps slightly when both parties involved are regularly accused of being soulless behemoths bereft of all feelings except slobber-soaked money lust. So it was when EA and Zynga came to verbal blows over The Ville’s more-than-passing resemblance to The Sims Social, and oh my, did things ever get heated. EA claimed to be “taking a stand” against Zynga’s allegedly frequent copycatting, and the now-deflating social zeppelin fired back with barbs like this one: “The truth is that despite years of trying to compete, and spending more than a billion dollars on acquisitions, EA has not been able to successfully compete in the social gaming space and was losing talent, particularly to social gaming leader Zynga.”

Now, however, it’s all over. And the fireworks? They are sadly few.

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Brian Reynolds Emerges Through Zynga’s Revolving Doors

Brian Reynolds’ choice to join the ranks of Zynga always felt like a strange one. The Rise Of Nations developer surprised many when he joined the less-than-lovely company in 2009 (yes – it really was that long ago), but now Polygon are reporting that he’s stepped out, blinking into the sunlight, a free man.

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Anonymous Internet Men vs Zynga

Lovely friendly smiley Zynga boss Mark Pincus OH WAIT

CEASE IMMEDIATELY THE PLAN.

That’s hacker collective Anonymous’ demand to Farmville makers/financial black hole-creators Zynga. Anonymous – or, at least, someone claiming to represent them – purport to be angered by Zynga’s alleged plans for a “massive layoff of a thousand people” and a move to outsourced development in India. This plan is, I believe, unconfirmed, but one thing’s for sure – Zynga are in a world of money-pain and taking a brutal knife to their headcount, even if they’re still not exactly short of a bob or two. With something of a history of mercenary behaviour, it won’t surprise anyone if more lay-offs are on the way.

So what does Anonymous plan to do in protest? Well, they claim to have been into Zynga’s servers and come back with a load of confidential data, including unreleased games.
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AdversityVille: Massive Layoffs At Zynga, Bigpoint

In modern society, we tend to throw around the phrase “worst day ever” pretty loosely. Stubbed your toe? Worst day ever. Forgot to have “the help” restock your yacht with perfectly chilled bottles of imported Mars water? Worst day ever. Looked on helplessly as you and nearly 250 other talented individuals in your line of work suddenly found yourselves jobless? OK, now we’re getting somewhere. That’s today’s unfortunate tale, straight from the frontlines of struggling social behemoth Zynga and Battlestar Galactica Online creator Bigpoint. Details after the break.

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EA-Zynga Wars Episode II: Zynga Strikes Back

Familiar, definitely. But is it too familiar?

Yes, I know that’s not an entirely correct Star Wars reference. I should probably have my head lopped off by some form of lightsaber-bladed guillotine, but let’s save that for later. Now, after all, is time to be united by that most beautiful of communal forces: big things fighting. Last month, EA sued Zynga in an effort to “take a stand” against the social titan’s alleged copycatting ways, and now – after getting its crops (and I guess probably also legal affairs) in order – Zynga’s firing back. With a lawsuit of its own. Because the court system is weird.

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Calm Down, Everyone: You Can Play Farmville 2 Now

You can see it too, right? There's death in that tiny man's eyes.

I know you – probably better than anyone else. Yes, you. Everyone else thought nothing was amiss, but I could see it. Underneath your cool, put-together exterior, you were sweating bullets. “Maybe Farmville 2 will n-n-n-never launch,” you fretted through a mouthful of chewed-off fingernails. “Maybe recent financial woes and legal troubles will improbably bring Zynga to its knees over night! Nooooooo.” Now, though, you can rest easy. Farmville 2 has descended upon Facebook in all its Flash-powered 3D glory. But before you rush off to tearfully reunite with your secret shame, let me give you an idea of what you’re in for.

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EA Suing Zynga Over The Ville, To “Take A Stand”

From EA's complaint document.

Update: The memo we saw is now publicly posted here.

EA have announced tonight they’re planning to sue Zynga, over the similarities between the recently released The Ville, and Maxis’ The Sims Social. It’s not the first time that Zynga has released a game that looks astonishingly similar to another company’s game, but it’s the first time they’ve met an opponent big enough to fight back. We’ve seen an internal EA memo that tells staff that while they are pursuing this because they believe they’re legally in the right, they’re also doing it because they believe it’s time to be “taking a stand”. It says that even if they were to lose, “we will have made a point.”

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Always A Gamble: Zynga’s Casual Peril


Happenings are afoot in the realm of casual gaming. Zynga, the leading casual gaming company, has seen its share price dropping. Not only that, but it has announced its intention to enter the tricky world of real-world money gambling. Things are, quite clearly, not working out as intended. And yet free-to-play casual gaming was supposed to be the most important thing to have happened in gaming since home consoles.

So what’s going on?
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The Giant Stirs: Zynga Shows Social Network, Farmville 2

Hey, artwork! ...That's completely non-representative of the final game, which will apparently be 3D.

If ever today gets turned into a television special, it will be called A Very Zynga News Day. The social Godzilla with the real social skills of an actual Godzilla went announcement mad during its Zynga Unleashed briefing – which sounds like it was named for a Godzilla movie. So, let’s see, blah blah blah Sims Social clone blah blah blah ChefVille for some reason blah blah blah… oh! Here’s something: Zynga’s very own social network, called Zynga With Friends. Also they announced Farmville 2 or whatever.

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Microtransacting The Fridge: Indy Facebook

Social networks. Why'd it have to be social networks?

I was nosing at Uncharted 3 on the playbox last night (professional curiosity!), marvelling at its graphics and likeable characters but becoming exasperated at its extreme train-track constraints, and its acrobatic adventures had me yearning for another good Indiana Jones game. A character who doesn’t say too much but when he does it’s gold; a character who doesn’t immediately die if he jumps from the wrong place because he’s got a whip to save him; a character who doesn’t say ‘crap’ every two minutes. When did we last get a proper, decent Indiana Jones game? There were, of course, two Lego Indiana Joneses, but I’ll discount those because, while joyful, they’re pastiche in many ways. Sensibly, there wasn’t a specific one for the Doohickey Of The Crystal Thingum, as no-one wants to play a game about four old people shuffling around a CGI temple while Shia LeBeouf trails along doing his best plank of meat impression.

Could FarmVille overlords Zynga resurrect Indy’s gaming legend? They’ve just rebranded – apparently permanently – their Facebook game Adventure World as Indiana Jones Adventure World. Does this mean that if adventure has a name, it’s micropayments? Let’s take a look.
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Zynga Steps Back From Facebook?


Well, sort of. Casual-gaming behemoth Zynga, which is now worth more than all the gold in the universe, has announced that its games will now appear in a portal other than Facebook. The new portal, which will be called “Zynga Direct”, will host the usual line-up of Zynga games, without you having to go to Zuckerberg’s House Of Wonders. That’s rendered a bit pointless by it still using Facebook Connect for the multiplayer sort of multiplayerness, allowing you to play on either Direct or Facebook without troubles. (I am guessing this is an advertising-related move?) Zynga also announced a casual medieval-themed MMO called CastleVille, because that name hadn’t been used yet and well someone had to. But that’s not all, they also announced Zynga Bingo, Dream Zoo, Hidden Chronicles and Mafia Wars II.

“Dream Zoo” is a lot more Lynchean in my imagination than I am betting it will be in reality. Shame. Shame.

Words With Friends Will Eat The World

RRLCLOG isn't a real word, silly

Facebook games struggle to make an appearance on RPS without a boo-hiss from the crowd, but this one bears a little more patience. Words With Friends – owned by but not created by FarmVille frighteners Zynga – was a quiet giant on mobile platforms, due to basically being a persistent, online, score-based, multiplayer Scrabble, geared towards play with chums’n’family. Now it’s on its way to Facebook.
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Walker Digital To Sue Activision Blizzard

Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of a troll.

Patents, eh? Aren’t they great! In a pretty spectacular act of what looks an awful lot like patent trolling, but we’re sure couldn’t possibly be, Walker Digital (no relation) are suing Zynga and Activision Blizzard for creating games that use what they claim to be their distributed electronic tournaments patent. Gamasutra and TechCrunch report that the numbers they want to claim in damages are so high they haven’t thought of them yet, but say they’ll have finished counting by the trial.

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Bittersweet: What Brian Reynolds Did Next

SCAREBEAR. Yeah.

There was a collective sigh of sadness from global strategy game gonks like me at the news former Firaxis and Big Huge Games big huge brain Brian Reynolds had thrown in his trad-gaming towel and joined Farmville and Mafia Wars outfit Zynga last year. Did this mean an end to playful, progressive and p-thoughtful strategy titles like Civ II and Rise of Nations?

What with Zynga being a pretty closed-doors kinda company – rarely talking to the media – there’s been very little word on exactly what lovely Brian’s been up to there. A talk at GDC Online a couple of days ago saw him make a rare re-entrance into the limelight and reveal that, even if some of us aren’t interested in the games he’s now making, he’s still putting a fair bit of thought into it.
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Google + Zynga + $200m = Google Games?


TechCrunch has some news about Google investing in Farmville developers Zynga. If TC’s “multiple sources” are correct, then the secret deal is intended to furnish a new Google Games project:

Google has quietly (secretly, one might say) invested somewhere between $100 million and $200 million in social gaming behemoth Zynga, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources… Not only will Zynga’s games give Google Games a solid base of social games to build on, but it will also give Google the beginning of a true social graph as users log into Google to play the games. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see PayPal being replaced with Google Checkout as the primary payment option. Zynga is supposedly PayPal’s biggest single customer, and Google is always looking for ways to make Google Checkout relevant.

This is backed up with some project lead job ads for games from Google itself. Which is interesting.

Carrots And Sticks: Ellie Gibson On Farmville


Considering RPS’ wandering remit, I’m surprised that we haven’t actually written anything about Farmville. Especially as Jim’s good lady is a player. Let’s hand over to Eurogamer’s Ellie Gibson, whose Farmville diaries sees her grow from someone who really can’t see the point to someone who self-describes themselves as a drug-pusher. As she concludes: “Here’s the thing: whether they’re right or wrong, you can’t ignore 85 million people.” She has a point. Go read and… well, I’m sure you’ll have things to say about Farmville, but try and keep them polite. The 85 million a month is the interesting number, innit? 350 million people log onto Facebook a month, according to Facebook’s COO. So just under 1 in 4 people Facebook people actively play Farmville. My gut-level cynicism makes me raises an eyebrow at that. Only on a personal anecdotal level, far, far less than 1-in-4 people are playing Farmville on my friends list. I’d love to see region-by-region breakdown on their numbers.