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Zynga is worth what?!? November 24, 2009

Posted by Nick in social media.
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Zynga is far away the biggest and most aggressive social gaming company out there. Its ads are everyone on facebook and it is growing rapidly. Traffic has increased to over 200 million monthly active users and it now employs over 600 people. Its revenues are projected to be over $200 million this year and will probably at least double in 2010.

But most importantly and most impressively, is the Bloomberg report that Zynga may be valued at $1 billion dollars if it is headed for an IPO in 2010. But, it seems like Zynga is in no need for money as in continues to just rake it in so there is the possibility that we won’t be seeing an IPO in 2010 and the company will continue to grow.

Whether you think these games are of any quality, you can’t deny that this success is impressive and that virtual goods really are turning out to be an important way to monetize online games. I’m certainly impressed, want to cut me in on that action Zynga?

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Twitter finally decides it wants to make some real money November 20, 2009

Posted by Nick in social media.
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Twitter COO Dick Costolo told an audience at RealTime CrunchUp that advertising is coming to Twitter in the near future. He was very vague but seemed to indicate that its not just any sort of advertising, its advertising that will blow us all away. Costolo said, “It will be fascinating. Non-traditional. And people will love it… It’s going to be really cool.” I’m not sure than any advertising is “really cool” but I’m still interested to see what they decide to do, not to mention its about time Twitter started to make some money.

A Gamer on Social Gaming November 15, 2009

Posted by Nick in social media, technology.
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Social gaming companies like Zynga, Playfish, and Playdom are quickly taking over Facebook and MySpace; their games (ie Farmville, Mobsters) are far and away the most popular applications on these sites and Zynga has over 195 million monthly active users on Facebook alone. Despite the presence of scammy offers like mobile subscriptions that many unsuspecting users are apt to fall for, these types of games have been growing at an exponential rate and netting each of these companies massive amounts of money. The sheer number of people playing these games and the fact that EA recently acquired Playfish for $300-$400 million indicate that they will play an important role in the future of the video game industry, but how will they stack up against the current PC and platform game industry.

Right now, the core of the video game industry is hardcore PC and console gamers who spend an average of over 10 hours a week playing games, most of which are spent playing games online. As someone who falls into the category of hardcore game, I thought it would be interesting to compare my experiences with traditional PC and console games to my experiences playing social games on Facebook and MySpace. For the last several years, I have been playing video games almost exclusively online. The largest amount of time has been spent on the Halo series, but I have spent substantial amounts of time on Call of Duty, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, and World of Warcraft as well; and this is combined with playing other new games for short periods of time as they are released. As someone who plays all types of games from first person shooter to RTS and MMORPG, the biggest appeal for any game is the quality of its online gaming experience. Since social gaming is, by definition, a type of online gaming, I have been excited to see the types of games coming out. Not surprisingly, I have, in large part, been disappointed by the games released for Facebook and MySpace. Most are games that require very little skill, simply time in order to succeed and are based less on competing with others online and rather sharing or connecting with them. The thrill and difficulty of competition in online gaming is what keeps me excited and returning to a game for hours upon hours every week over months or years, social games lack this excitement factor that would keep me coming back.

Though I don’t think the types of games that are successful as social games will ever corner the hardcore gamer demographic, they are important nonetheless. These games lack the addictive and competitive nature that lure gamers in for weeks or months of their lives, but they do have great appeal to the casual gamer and social network user. Social games allow you to connect with friends in a new way, something social network users are often looking for, and provide a decent entertainment factor for brief periods. Social games are a fun quick break from work or something entertaining to do for a few minutes while your surfing the web. The fact that they are so simple and require only a small amount of attention and time isn’t a bad thing, rather it is an important factor in their success. Most people surfing the web have very short attention spans and tend to visit the same sites each day for a short period of time. By playing to these tendencies, social games open themselves up to an enormous market of people, nearly everyone on the internet. It is unlikely that these games, at least in their current state, will ever appeal to hardcore gamers and therefore won’t utilize the standard video game business plan of profiting from game purchases and subscriptions, but they will continue to appeal to the general internet using public and stand to make a lot of money through lead generation offers (hopefully only legitimate ones) and advertising revenue.

EA Completes Acquisition of Playfish November 10, 2009

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ea_playfish

Yesterday, EA completed its acquisition of major social gaming company Playfish for between $300 and $400 million dollars. This is the first real merger of video game and social game teams and the potential is enormous. It is likely that EA will find new ways to monetize social gaming since it doesn’t want to risk tarnishing its name with scammy lead-gen offers. This will expand the abilities of all social gaming companies to make money. It is also likely that we will start to see social games available on the console, just like you can access facebook from your xbox 360, you will be able to access Pet Society as well. As the first major gaming company to move into this space, look for EA to set the pace until another major social gaming company (Playdom, Zynga) is purchased. Social gaming has an important future in the world of gaming and it makes sense that major companies like EA are moving into the field. For more about the future of social gaming, check out this related article at Mashable.

The Skype Founders=Win November 8, 2009

Posted by Nick in technology.
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Skype Founders

Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, founders of Skype, got exactly what they wanted. In a battle with eBay, the Skype owners won a 14% stake in the company and board representation. In addition, that have moved on to start a new music company called Rdio. Rdio is gaining steam quickly and is assembling a killer team that should allow it to compete with the best of whats already out there. For more about the team being assembles by Rdio, check out the article at TechCrunch.

Professors on the Hotseat November 5, 2009

Posted by Nick in education, social media.
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Hotseat is an awesome “new” way to integrate social media into the classroom and boost class participation and engagement at the same time.

Hotseat is a new app in development that uses Twitter, Facebook, text message, and a web interface to allow students to comment or ask questions on what is happening in class in real time. Two classes with a total of 600 students are currently testing the application at Purdue University about 75% have used Hotseat to ask questions, critique the professor, or vote on topics to be covered.

The real question is: Is it useful? One professor testing it says it does exactly what it is designed to, increases participation. Really, with the popularity of social media on the university campus, I think it is certainly a useful tool and an interesting way to engage students.

Check out the article at Mashable as well.