Culture
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FarmVille Holiday Lights expansion helps raise $1M for charity

FarmVille's recently released, charity-based expansion, Holiday Lights, raised more than $1 million for hunger-relief charity Feeding America, according to a blog post from Zynga. Holiday Lights is a new farm that was released in November. In addition to special holiday items, the expansion also allowed players to make contributions to the charity via in-game items. "We originally set what we believed was a lofty goal: raise $500,000 one dollar at a time," the post reads. "But, days after releasing the farm to players we noticed something that blew us away. Within a week, we were on track to reach the $500k goal. To keep the giving going, we decided to raise the goal to $1 million and within just 20 days, FarmVille players collectively generated $1 million to help fight hunger —...

News
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How Don Mattrick plans to turn Zynga around

Zynga CEO Don Mattrick has only been on the job for about two weeks, but the former Xbox chief already has ideas about how to turn the home of FarmVille and Zynga Poker around. During an investor call today, Mattrick loosely outlined some of those plans, saying that Zynga needs to "break some bad habits" and "get back to basics." Mattrick spoke nonspecifically about much of his initial 90-day plan, saying he will get "under the hood to evaluate" Zynga's business, conduct "top-to-bottom business reviews and [work] with our leaders to calibrate against the market opportunity and to go after it with a real sense of urgency" and spend time "heads down" with developers to improve product quality. Business fundamentals, Mattrick said, is something Zynga has struggled with over the past year. ...

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Hasbro's video game revenue increases 19 percent

Hasbro, Inc.'s investment in video games is doing well for the company, which reported a 19 percent percent increase in games revenues in the second quarter of 2013 today. The growth represents the third consecutive quarter of growth in the video game category, and Hasbro called out games in the Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, Twister, Jenga and the Elfun & Friends as growing brands. Overall, net revenues for the company were $766.3 million, down 6 percent from $811.5 million in the same quarter last year. President and CEO Brian Goldner commented on "important initiatives" coming up for the company, where video games and related merchandise featured prominently. "We have expanded our digital gaming capabilities with the acquisition of 70 percent of Backflip Studios, a profitable...

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FarmVille 2 director encourages developers to 'never insult your players'

Developers of casual games should not fall into the trap of thinking players don't understand games, because "casual players will surprise you," according to FarmVille 2 developer Wright Bagwell. Bagwell — the director of design on FarmVille 2 — said during a FarmVille 2 postmortem at the Game Developers Conference that it's important for developers, especially developers of casual games, to "never insult the player." "I often hear people say of casual games that their players are not 'real gamers,' that we need to get them up to speed," Bagwell said. "Well, my grandmother plays FarmVille 2, and she's not very good at it. But she plays Bridge and she is amazing at it, and she's also a killer poker player. "She's an amazing gamer. She gets games. What she doesn't get is Facebook....

Culture
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FarmVille animated series in development courtesy of Brett Ratner

An animated series based on Zynga's FarmVille is in development from executive producer Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour series of films and producer of Fox's Prison Break TV series, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal. "FarmVille is one of the most exciting brands out there today and its cross-platform opportunities are endless," Ratner said. "I am thrilled to be expanding the brand with existing fans and also engaging a whole new audience." Ratner, who was once working on a God of War movie and a few years ago expressed interest in making a movie based on Guitar Hero, is working with Canadian production Six Eleven Media to produce the half-hour show. Earlier this year, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that the company was developing a comedy based on a...

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Zynga 2012 revenue $1.2B, up 12 percent

Zynga emerged from 2012 with $1.2 billion in revenue, a 12 percent increase over last year's earnings, according to the financial report posted today. According to CEO and founder Mark Pincus, the quarter's greatest achievement was the successful release of a FarmVille sequel. "The biggest highlight of the quarter was seeing our team deliver a successful sequel in FarmVille2, a next generation social game that offers cutting edge 3-D experiences loved by millions of FarmVille fans," Pincus said. "In 2013 we're excited to bring this new class of social games to mobile phones and tablets and build a network that offers an easier, better way for people to play together." The company's online game revenue garnered a total of $1.14 billion Zynga reported a net loss of $209 million for...

Good Game
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A shaky start to 2013 could be good for the games industry

Last month saw the disintegration of a major publisher, the shuttering of a Disney-backed studio, the once flush Nintendo facing massive losses, a slew of other developers teetering on the brink of disaster and a rekindling of concerns that video games corrupt youth. But January wasn't all bad news. It also saw the rise of the "micro-console" and the creation of new studios by a new breed of free-to-play game makers. Viewed holistically, the beginning of 2013 wasn't a month of bad or good, simply a month of change. "January is evidence that there has been a shift in the industry," said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "January is showing a lot of cracks in the industry. The industry has changed and now people are having to adapt to the change." Publisher THQ's months-long...

News
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Zynga CEO among the worst of 2012, according to Businessweek

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is among the worst CEOs of 2012, according to an article in Businessweek based on selections from Sydney Finkelstein, a Dartmouth College professor. Finkelstein, who teaches at the Tuck School of Business, cites the social gaming studio's 75 percent stock drop and the recent flight of employees as the kind of "rookie mistakes" that Pincus made. CEOs of Best Buy, Avon and Chesapeake Energy join Pincus on the worst of list. The FarmVille developer's troubles have surfaced several times in 2012. In July, a group of law firms began an investigation into allegations that executives sold Zynga stock before it plummeted 40 percent. In August, COO John Schappert resigned and Electronic Arts filed suit against Zynga for copyright infringement. The next month, Zynga c...

News
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Kixeye expands to British Columbia, appoints former Zynga director as GM

San Francisco-based social game developer Kixeye opened a studio in Victoria, British Columbia this week, appointing former Zynga Director of Development Clayton Stark as general manager. Prior to joining Kixeye, Stark had worked on developing and restarting the 8.0 browser for Netscape and was the CTO and VP of Engineering at Flock, a company that developed a social game browser that was later acquired by Zynga. After the acquisition, Stark became the social game giant's director of development. "I certainly wouldn't say that Zynga isn't creative, though — they basically created the social games industry." Speaking to Polygon, Stark says that the transition from Zynga to Kixeye has been relatively smooth and, despite the two companies being publicly critical of each other, he...

News
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SongPop is 2012's top-rated social game on Facebook

Music trivia game SongPop came in at the top of Facebook's list of the highest-rated social games of 2012, the company announced yesterday. According to New York-based developer FreshPlanet, SongPop has been downloaded by more than 60 million players, and it leads every other app in driving song purchases from Facebook to iTunes. The 25 games on the list reflect a few important trends in social games, said Julien Cordoniou, head of gaming partnerships for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "It was the most diverse and global year for social games to date — for those on Facebook.com, as well as games built with Facebook for iPhone, iPad and Android," according to Cordoniou. Part of that diversity is geographical: The majority of games on the list were developed outside...

FarmVille Releases
North America
  • Facebook
    • Released 06/19/2009
    • Publisher Zynga
    • Developer Zynga
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