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Zynga

Draw Something photo
Draw Something

Draw Something television game show is really happening


Coming to UK's Channel 4
Apr 11
// Dale North
Remember when we told you how Zynga was working on turning their popular drawing mobile game into a television game show? That's actually happening now, but not for CBS as we originally heard. Word is that they've decided not...
Draw Something 2 photo
Draw Something 2

Ryan Seacrest got to announce Draw Something 2


Is this real life?
Mar 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Draw Something 2 is officially happening. How do we know this? Because Ryan Seacrest Tweeted the news. What. OMGPOP CEO and Zynga Vice President Dan Porter later confirmed that Draw Something 2 is indeed coming soon and will ...
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Zynga: Tablets are becoming the ultimate game platform


Farmville dev praises your iPads and your Samsung Notethinkers
Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
Console fans will protest, PC fans will bellow in outrage, but Farmville developer Zynga believes tablet devices are on track to become the ultimate platform for gaming experiences. According to games president Steve Chi...
Zynga silliness photo
Zynga silliness

Zynga: Copying games is no big deal, don't worry about it


Who has time to be creative when you are providing a "service"?
Mar 12
// Tony Ponce
"Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true." Those were the words spoken by Dan Porter, General Manager of Zynga New York. It's no secret to anyone with the capacity for rational thought that the social ga...
The Ville photo
The Ville

EA and Zynga have settled over The Ville lawsuit


It's over
Feb 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Electronic Arts and Zynga lawsuits against one another have both been dismissed. The two companies reached a settlement outside of court, and the specifics of the deal haven't been disclosed. Both companies issued a state...
FarmVille  photo
FarmVille

Um, what? Brett Ratner is making a FarmVille cartoon


From the director of such hits as X-Men: The Last Stand and Rush Hour!
Feb 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Listen to the bear. Brett Ratner Boards ‘FarmVille’ Animated Series [Deadline]
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Zynga cuts costs by shutting down 11 games


Some would call it karma
Dec 31
// Chris Carter
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has just announced that 11 games will be either axed entirely, or stop accepting newcomers to cut costs. It seems as if assets will be funneled into their more popular ventures, and new ones as well. Yep...
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A free version of Horn is now up on the App Store


Have an Unreal Engine 3 appetizer on the house
Dec 11
// Jordan Devore
Phosphor Games Studio and Zynga have put out a "free" version of Horn, the fairly ambitious action-adventure game for mobile devices. That can be downloaded from the App Store right now, offering the Prologue from the main ca...
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The DTOID Show: XCOM DLC, Sim City, Zynga & Warfighter


Plus: How to become a wizard
Oct 24
// Max Scoville
Today on The Destructoid Show, we discuss XCOM: Enemy Unknown's upcoming Slingshot DLC, Sim City's momentary delay, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter's less-than-thrilling reception, and crappy ol' Zynga doing a bunch of crappy stuff. Again.
Big layoffs at Zynga photo
Boston studio shut down, others face closure
There were a number of layoffs at Zynga today, as you might have heard from employees who were affected and quickly spread the word. An internal note from CEO Mark Pincus confirms much of what's been said about the significan...

We have a file on you: The tools & tricks of social games

Oct 13 // Allistair Pinsof
Amazon.com used to be some site that you bought books at but then analytics happened. In the late 1990s, Brian Lent helped lead the Information Technology team that would create Amazon's recommendation system. The system that would rewrite how the expanding online store functioned. Instead of recommending random items for sale, stores now gain data from users' searches, purchases, behavior, and any other information available to analytical software. Recommendations covered 14 percent of Amazon's revenue when Lent still worked there; now, it's as high as 40 percent of the company's earnings. The rest of the Internet would follow and, now, so are videogames. Videogame developers and publishers are now reaching out to analysts like Lent, who currently works for Medio Systems. It is one of many third-party companies that offer analytical software which does the heavy number crunching for developers. Right now, Lent is giving a speech at GDC Online, a gathering of social and mobile game developers in Austin, Texas. His audience is a group of grey-haired businessmen curious to get some of this Facebook cash they have heard so much about through the success stories of Zynga, PopCap, and Chillingo. He is now covering stage three of how to make a successful social game: monetization. "This stage is really about optimizing the next best offer," Lent says. "If you have another thing to show the user, what is the best thing (analytically-speaking) they are most likely to purchase next?" "Metrics" is a word commonly used among social game developers that didn't exist in the industry until analysts like Lent arrived. You hear people say it a lot at a trade show like GDC Online. Sometimes in a knowing way, and sometimes with the excited gleam of dollar signs lighting up the eyes. In 2009, social games made $4 billion a year. According to Lent's research, the market will reach $30 billion in yearly revenue with downloads rising to 21.7 billion -- over five times what they were three years ago. The market is growing and it's attracting developers like Zynga that are well-versed in the visual design and analytical tricks that have made successful websites tick. Now, they are applying the same tactics to videogames. Once users are acquired, a social game must engage them. Since not all social games are fun enough to play on their own merit, developers hook players with a carrot on a stick. Analytical tools tell designers when an offer should be made to what player. For example, a whale may be planning to go back to reality and abandon their home in DragonVale. This is when a developers must "figure out how to cross-promote and move people." "Collect all the data you can!" exclaims Lent. "Location, time of day, offers shown that they didn’t respond to, offers shown that they did respond to, friends they invited into game ... all that data is extremely, extremely valuable. No matter how you work, make sure you are collecting all the data you can. That data is a gold mine." Once a user is placed into a "clustomer" (a cluster of customers -- yes, they really do use this term), analytical tools evaluate what should be offered and how the offer should be presented. For example, the software knows Melissa is a whale because the data tells the system that whales are likely to use iPhones, reach level 12 in the game, live in Germany, and purchase the golden sword. All of these traits fit Melissa, so she must be a whale. "Have your product guys look into the purchase path for the golden sword, since that unlocks the game experience and leads them to buy more things," Lent says. This analytical software has increased developers revenue by five times, according to Lent. Not only does the software tell developers the nature of a user, it can even decide whether something should be promoted as "best price," "hot price," "NEW!" or "50% off" even though these are the same exact offer. However, some aspects of targeting social players will always be in the designers' hands. Emmanuel Valdez has nearly twenty years of experience in designing videogames, and he comes to GDC Online to discuss how visual design can help drive sales in social games. Since most social games are free-to-play, they depend on real-money transactions in a marketplace. Depending on the game, these marketplace items may alter the way a player's avatar looks or how the game is played, often making it easier on the player. Then, the worst offender: there are energy systems that lock a person out from playing the game until they are let back in via a timer -- unless they pay up. "It's not the art; it's not the budget; it's the design that makes great games," states Valdez. Valdez pulls many time-tested design principles from across time and cultures and applies them to games. For example, colors can reinforce what a person should look at. Game designers often color a group of icons to imply they are of a similar nature, but Valdez presents an example where a social game greys out all buttons except the marketplace. This button, and only this button, is glorious, bright, and shiny. How can you not click on it? Why would anyone resist? "Design for free-to-play games changes how we see design because they are all about getting people to spend money, most of the time," continues Valdez. Have you ever noticed that many social games apply baby face features to game characters? They often have big round eyes, small noses, and heads larger than the rest of their bodies. Valdez says developer's do this because it makes players more sympathetic. Research shows that they are more likely to pay to level them up. Developers want you to fall in love with their characters and then pay for that love. Placement is another key design aspect of social games. Leading players' eyes to the marketplace and the most expensive items is a primary goal for many developers and it's a task that has to be dealt with subtlety. Valdez says that placing the most expensive items first in a store will make them more likely to be sold, since these items will linger in the mind of players after exiting. Another principle is the Gutenberg Diagram which shows that player's eyes are drawn from the top-left to the bottom-right of the screen, so of course you are going to place your store icon there! "A lot of people from Zynga come from the web and that industry has been doing this a lot longer than we have. These principle are second nature to them," Valdez explains. "That's where we need to get." But where is this place and what kind of place will it be? One where each user is studied by systems, manipulated by artists, and led with a carrot on a stick? Many European countries, such as England and Germany, forbid the kind of data collection these analysts provide for a good reason. That reason is that customers should be served a quality product, not serving developers' research and data mining. Nevertheless, companies like Medio Systems work within a loophole that strips individuals' data and places it into a group ("clustomers"). No one is that unique, after all. This keeps personal data one step removed and the data mining within legal bounds. Even great game developers analyze test groups, use design principles to guide players, and give players incentive to keep playing. The difference is that developers like Activision Blizzard make a game first and tune it around these tools and tricks, not the other way around. The more I learn about how social games are made and the people that work on them, the more I am fascinated by this new industry and the more I want to stay the hell away from it as a gamer. I'm not a whale. If Zynga has a file on me, I kindly ask for it back.
Social games datamining? photo
This is what social game developers say about you, behind your back
Meet Melissa. She's a forty-year-old mom who has recently become hooked on DragonVale, a free-to-play iOS game. She is what social game analysts call a whale. No, this isn't a comment on her physical stature or deep, raspy...

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Zynga apes Pokemon with suspiciously similar Montopia


Gotta copy 'em all!
Aug 30
// Jim Sterling
Oh Zynga, will you ever learn? Despite being embroiled in a lawsuit against fellow evildoer Electronic Arts, those wacky rouges at Zynga are hard at work with another "inspired" game -- Montopia.  Montopia casts you in ...
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Jimquisition: EA vs. Zynga - The Lesser of Two Evils


Aug 27
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts and Zynga duking it out is one of the biggest supervillain slap-fights in history. Both companies are reviled by gamers the world over, but as is our nature, we can't just sit back and watch the carnage. Peop...
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EA vs. Zynga: EA claims it's a game industry defender!


Aug 21
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts' delusions of grandeur have reached new heights this week, as the company continues to milk its lawsuit against Zynga for cheap applause and gamer cred. Its latest claim? The lawsuit positions Electronic Arts ...
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EA vs. Zynga: EA thanks gamers for support


Aug 07
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts couldn't have asked for a better enemy in Zynga. The social game kingpin is not only in financial trouble, it's also one of the most despised companies in the industry. EA must realize this, and has started su...
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EA vs. Zynga: Zynga hits back, says EA is a copycat too


Aug 06
// Jim Sterling
The supervillain slapfight of the century was initiated on Friday, with EA announcing that it would take Zynga to court for copying The Sims Social. Today, Zynga has fired its opening salvo in response, accusing EA of copying...
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The DTOID Show: Zynga, Dishonored, and QuakeCon 2012!


Aug 03
// Tara Long
Happy Friday, lovelies! We've got a jam-packed show today, full of all the QuakeCon and copyright infringement news you can handle! We've also got footage of Assassin's Creed III's AnvilNext engine, a list of famous people l...
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Electronic Arts has announced that it will be twisting the knife into the beleaguered Zynga by taking it to court -- suing the trouble company over its new social game, The Ville. EA alleges that The Ville is a rip-off of The...

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The DTOID Show: Aliens, Zynga, Ada Wong in RE6, & PAX


Aug 01
// Max Scoville
Today's episode of The Destructoid Show is brought to you by a flock of magical falcons who carried it here in a net woven out of gossamer spider-silk. Okay, not really. I just wanted to write something interesting. Sega rel...
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Zynga shares plummet, lawsuit coming, gravy train crashes


Aug 01
// Jim Sterling
Farmville creator Zynga is ... buggered. After a few years of living large and sucking as much cash as it could from Facebook users, the proudly "evil" company's bottom is well and truly falling out. Share prices have been fa...

Preview: Horn could be an admirable game

Jun 30 // Steven Hansen
[embed]230232:44197[/embed] Horn (iPad [previewed], iPhone) Developer: Phosphor Games Studio Publisher: Zynga Release: TBA 2012 Horn’s set up isn’t too dissimilar from a host of games that have been released. You wake up as an amnesiac, some bad stuff has gone down, and it’s up to you to fix it. In this instance, you wake up in your village after a thousand of years have passed and things are cursed, which has led to everything being turned into monsters. Of course, this won’t do, so you (Horn) set out to get things back to normal. Along with you on the journey is the decapitated head of a rock monster who is your reluctant guide that stays strapped to your waist, peppering you with a healthy mix of insults and aid. He could be a pretty cool guy and give the game a nice bit of charm and levity. In addition to this grumbling associate, the general art direction is what stood out to me most about Horn. The run down aesthetic looks less traditional medieval, which I find a bit dull as a setting, and more fantastical. I sort of sensed a dash of ICO and Enslaved, both of which are wonderful games to draw cues from. Speaking of Enslaved, the most direct parallel I saw to it was the enemy design. The enemies I fought appeared to be golems of sort, yet they were adorned with rusty metal armor, almost making them look like cutesy versions of Enslaved's robots. Their weak, azure, glowing magic underbellies sort of reminded me of electricity, as well. Unnecessary comparisons aside, the game looks pretty cool and is well served by some impressive technical work that make everything really pop on the iPad’s lovely screen. The bit of the game I played was brief, consisting of a couple of fights and some mild exploration. You move Horn around by touching bits on the floor you want him to move towards and by more contextual movements like swiping left or right to have him jump a gap or up to pull himself up onto a ledge. Battles will take place against one enemy at a time, with a sort of auto z-lock. When you encounter an enemy, your movement is restricted to a circular path around that enemy. Tapping left or right on the bottom corners of the screen causes Horn to dodge roll left or right in order to either evade enemy attacks (there is also a block button) or reposition himself in front of an enemies weak spot. The sword mechanics are still being tweaked so they were a little less one to one in my hands-on time, but you swipe the screen to slash your enemies appropriately. The first enemy I fought had a weak point hidden in his chest under some armor while the second had a weak point dangling dangerously from his tail, exposed, but required some deft dodge rolling to get into position to hit it. There are also going to be some giant boss fights -- the end of my demo was teased with the enormous golem from the above trailer waking up like me, most days (begrudgingly). The team doesn’t seem to be limiting itself in scope, though it remains to be seen how far they’ll push the platform. At the very least, they’re promising a “console length” single-player component (citing the more and more commonplace 8-10 hour average). While I’ve not played Infinity Blade (I barely own a competent computer, let alone a smart phone), the obvious comparison wasn’t lost on me, and so I asked Sineni about what sets their game apart. With Horn, Sineni is promising more puzzles and exploration, allowing you to play the game at your own pace, as opposed to Infinity Blade’s more linear, combat-focused structure. Accordingly, they’re still trying to strike a balance between glowing icons informing you of how to progress and letting the game be somewhat old school and let players wander about. If you think of Horn as a sort of “baby’s first action/adventure game,” I particularly dig it. As people who have grown up or with or are otherwise familiar with games, we forget that the barrier to entry to some of our favorite titles is sometimes high. Trying to do the whole gaming thing can be daunting for outsiders. Sure, we were largely thrown to the wolves, started without training wheels, or pushed into the deep end and told to sink or swim, but I’m not opposed to letting others get their feet wet in the shallow end a bit, splashing about and enjoying themselves. The game seems pretty sincere. That being said, if Horn lives up to its billing and promises -- the exploration, puzzle solving, potentially cool little narrative, etc. -- it could also prove a nice, surprisingly deep adventure for even the biggest anti-mobile gaming curmudgeon. Here’s hoping. We don’t have to wait too much longer to find out, as it’ll be releasing “soon.”
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So, there certainly was a reaction to the newly announced Horn when Jim posted a little clip a few days ago in which the game was shown off and Phosphor Games’ Chip Sineni made some innocent claims about the mobile and ...

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Have an obnoxious, petty SimCity Social trailer


Jun 28
// Jim Sterling
If you're mentally subnormal, then Electronic Arts has a trailer that's going to definitely appeal to your sensibilities. This video for SimCity Social promotes the Facebook game with a song so bad, it makes EA's Christmas c...
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The DTOID Show: Bring on the uncensored violence!


Jun 18
// Tara Long
That's right, folks - I'm back in the studio after a week-long vacation, and I've got my party shoes on! You know, the orthopaedic ones with extra arch support? (I have fragile bones.) Anyway, on today's show, we've got a tr...
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Zynga's Draw Something game show coming to CBS


Jun 17
// Dale North
I fell in love with, became addicted to and later swore off mobile drawing game Draw Something over the course of 3 days. I deleted the app, washed my hands of it, and never spoke of it again. Zynga paid about $200 million to...
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E3: EA bitchslaps Zynga with SimCity Social


Jun 04
// Jim Sterling
EA is preparing to invade Facebook, and it has Zynga in its sights. What is it about EA and its obsession with picking fights via passive-aggressive game slogans? In any case, SimCity Social is a city-building game for your F...
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Zynga already attempting to actively ruin Draw Something


May 04
// Chris Carter
I must admit: I still play Draw Something, albeit only with the few loyal friends that I have left (thanks Chad!). Like millions of others, most of the people on my friends list flocked to basically anything else, avoiding th...
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Draw Something losing charm, also millions of players


May 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Remember Draw Something? Yeah, that asynchronus Pictionary rip-off that everyone was playing for two weeks before we all moved on with our lives. Well, it looks like the honeymoon is over. After setting record ...
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OMGPop founder and Zynga have some history


Mar 27
// Victoria Medina
Last week we learned that Zynga gobbled up OMGPop and it turns out that the founder of the latter actually turned down a job offer from the former in 2008. Charles Forman, after starting up OMGPop and a dating site,...
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NCsoft bows out of E3, probably playing Farmville instead


Mar 21
// Liam Fisher
I know you folks are starting to compile your own personal lists of who will or won't be in attendance at E3 this year, right? Well it seems you can definitely count on seeing Zynga there, so go ahead and breathe a sigh of re...
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Zynga has bought OMGPop, developer of Draw Something


Mar 21
// Conrad Zimmerman
In a conference call today, social gaming megalith Zynga has announced the acquisition of OMGPop, the developer responsible for the wildly popular Draw Something for iOS devices. According to a post at the Wall Street Jo...

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