Train2Game news: Zynga building own social games site

Train2Game students will no doubt be aware that Zynga’s games are heavily tied to Facebook, with the Train2Game blog previously reporting that at its peak Cityville had over 100 million users.

Allies & Empires also reached over 50 million users within weeks of launching, thanks to the Facebook platform.

Now however, Zynga wants to reduce their reliance on the social network, after the introduction of Facebook Credits saw a 95% drop in profits during the last financial quarter, and will start delivering games directly to consumers online or on mobile phones.

The social game developer has therefore revealed ‘Project Z,’ on Zynga.com, a gaming hub that’ll allow players to connect to games such as Farmville through their own portal rather than Facebook.

Games can be played across Project Z and Facebook as players will be allowed to use the same username and will feature familiar social features.

“Project Z is a Facebook connect platform that leverages your Facebook friends to play in an environment tailored with just your friends,” said Zynga COO John Schappert said at the Zynga Unleashed event in San Francisco.

“We learn a lot more about our players, not just from stats but from talking to them, and this is what they wanted.”

“It’s a platform for a direct relationship with consumers, whether on the web or on mobile, to give you a whole sandbox and create socialness about the games and not just within the games,” Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus added.

The news comes the day after Facebook launched its iPad App, and as reported by the Train2Game blog, it means Facebook games can now be played on mobile devices.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Zynga’s move? What does it say about Facebook gaming? And what is the future of social media games?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum

[Source:  WSJ]

Allies & Empires gains more users than Farmville

Just last week, the Train2Game blog reported that Zynga’s Empires & Allies had reached 33 million users. Now the game has passed 41 million players, meaning that more people are playing Empires & Allies than are playing Farmville.

It provides a reminder to Train2Game students as to how big a phenomenon social media gaming has become.

Empires & Allies is free-to-play, but like many other Zynga and social media games, players can spend money to help them progress faster. And as noted by Venture Beat:

“If the game continues to get users, it could reach a much bigger audience than a hardcore game would typically get.”

“The combat strategy element will address the tastes of hardcore gamers as well as many mainstream gamers who have complained that there isn’t enough game play in Zynga’s other games, such as FarmVille.”

As the Train2Game blog reported earlier this year, a survey suggested that 70% of internet users play casual games. Social games are therefore potentially a lucrative market forTrain2Game students to be involved in.

Indeed, the Train2Game blog also reported that Game Design  is the most important aspect of a social game, and that Game Designers behind them much larger roles than those who help produce console titles.

If the popularity of Empires & Allies keeps growing, could it reach the 100 million player peak that the Train2Game blog reported Cityville had?

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Empires & Allies? Have you played it? Could it potentially appeal to a more hardcore audience then previous Zynga games?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Venture Beat]

Zynga’s new game Empires & Allies gets 33 million players in three weeks

Empires & Allies

In a big reminder to Train2Game students of how popular social games now are, Zynga’s latest title Empires & Allies has reached over 30 million users in less than 3 weeks.

According to AppData, Strategy game Empires & Allies gained 20 million of those players in the last week.

The game Zygna said has “more social features than any Zynga game” was released on at the beginning of June.

Empires & Allies is free-to-play, but like many other Zynga and social media games, players can spend money to help them progress faster.

For more information on Freemium games, their increasing popularity, and how this could be important for Train2Game students, see the Train2Game blog.

As the Train2Game blog reported earlier this year, a survey suggested that 70% of internet users play casual games. Social games are therefore potentially a lucrative market forTrain2Game students to be involved in.

Indeed, the Train2Game blog also reported that  Game Design  isthe most important aspect of a social game, and that Game Designers behind them much larger roles than those who help produce console titles.

In theory that means creating a social game could allow a Train2Game Game Designer more of an opportunity to flex their creative muscle.

Whatever your opinion of Facebook games, it’s hard to argue with such high user numbers, although there’s some way to go before reaching Cityville’s 100 million players.

As reported by the Train2Game blog in January, it’s previously been suggested that the social media gaming market will reach $1 billion this year.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the success of Empires & Allies? Would you develop Facebook games?

Leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra

The rise and rise of social media gaming

Farmville: Helping to cultivate a predicted 1.5 billion big ones.

2014 may not bring us hover cars or jet packs but it’ll apparently be a good year for the social games market. Why? Well, a new report from media consultants Screen Digest suggests it’ll be worth $1.5 billion in four years time. Yes, $1.5 billion.

It really is a staggering amount of money to get your head around! Especially so when you consider that in 2008 social media games were worth just $76 million. Not that $76 is a small amount of money at all, but in 2009 that increased to $639 million thanks to 500 million active monthly users. The Screen Digest report predicts this growth will continue over the next four years with social media games becoming more and more popular.

I doubt anyone will be surprised as to what has caused such a massive increase in the social games market, with the Screen Digest report stating:

“The market remains dominated by the distribution power and massive userbase of Facebook”

Yes, Facebook. The reason for this massive upsurge in casual social games is titles like Farmville and Mafia Wars. Both of these games are produced by market leader Zynga who last year are thought to have got annual revenue of around $100 million.

It’s not exactly to see surprising with the massive advertising campaign behind the games. According to a Facebook ad I’m looking at right now, ‘Everyone plays Mafia Wars’ Well 25 million players might not be everyone, but that number suggests Zygna must be doing something right. Then of course there’s Farmville which just seems to have become an entity unto itself…the spellchecker I’m using to write this blog even recognises Farmville as a word!

So, with social games set to become even more successful, we used the Train2Game Facebook page (Appropriate, right?) to ask Train2Game students if they’d like to use their skills to help produce a successful social media title. The responses were….somewhat interesting! They included:

“Games like Farmville are easy to make, I would rather a challenge with the more hardcore games, however that being said I would like to give the lower level games a go also.

As far as Farmville go’s I would rather shoot my self head, but everyone has to start some where, and a small game like that could get you the experience it take to work much bigger projects.”

“Yes, you have to start somewhere… But not Farmville…I would feel like a total sell-out if I made a game like Farmville.”

And…

“Farmville is such a badly built game. I couldn’t believe the amount of corners they cut, honestly, I don’t think it cost them more than 2k to build the actual game. Mafia Wars was probably the same.”

So while it seems that the Train2Game students that responded aren’t exactly too keen to produce the next Farmville, it appears the majority feel that working on such a title would provide that all important first step into their chosen career – be it Games Design, Games Development or Games Art & Animator. While many people dislike the concept of social gaming, it’s difficult to ignore how successful it has become. Remember, that big old $1.5 million that’s just over the horizon.

So now it’s over to you, Train2Game blog readers. Do you think the social games market will really be worth $1.5 billion in four years time? What do you think has made it so successful? And how would you feel about developing a social media title?

As usual, leave your comments here, or on the Train2Game forum. Or why not join the discussion on the Train2Game Facebook page?