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]

Train2Game news: Facebook iPad App launches, a reminder of social media gaming’s impact

Train2Game students will be aware that the iPad has opened doors for game developers, and now it’ll be even easier to use the Apple device for gaming.

Now, the official Facebook iPad app has finally launched which will being tighter integration of social media games and applications.

The app allows Facebook games to be played in a full screen mode, and allows access to various games available to Facebook users on laptop and desktop computers.

The growth of social media gaming means that there’s a whole new platform for game developers to publish games on.

Indeed, as reported by the Train2Game blog, Civilization creator Sid Meier believes this means it’s a great time for the industry.

“I think now is one of the most exciting times to be a Game Designer” he said earlier this year.

“With the rapid growth of social network games there are new opportunities for smaller indie developers to make and distribute games, so we’re seeing a wider variety of games on all kinds of cool devices than ever before. That’s great for the whole industry.”

Meanwhile, Zynga Game Designer Brian Reynolds – who previously worked on Civilization II means the growth of social gaming is a good thing for game designers

“A Game Designer is actually more important on a social game than on a triple-A game because on a triple-A game you spend a lot of time making technology and tools and gigabytes worth of animations and things like that.” said Reynolds earlier this year.

“I can remember whole months going by where they didn’t need me to do any game design whereas on social games it’s a game designer’s paradise.”

The official Facebook iPad app is therefore surely a good thing for aspiring game developers as it makes playing social media games more accessible to more people.

Of course, the new Facebook app means that iPad users can also stay in touch with the Official Train2Game Facebook page even when they’re out!

What are your thoughts on the Facebook App for iPad and the growth of social media gaming?

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

Train2Game news: Sims Social has ‘redefined’ social games say EA

 

Train2Game students will be aware that social gaming has changed the industry and indeed, potentially allows them new ways to get into the business of building games.

Indeed, as the Train2Game blog reported last week, social developer Playfish believe that there hasn’t been a better time for smaller developers to be successful.

Social gaming is still growing and Playfish believe that the fact EA have brought big names like The Sims to Facebook has already fundamentally changed the sector after becoming the No.2 game on the social media platform.

“In bringing one of EA’s most popular game franchises to Facebook, Playfish and The Sims team have redefined the meaning of social in video games,” Playfish founder Kristian Segerstrale told MCV. Playfish are owned by EA.

“By combining Playfish’s expertise and passion for social play with the deep creative heritage of The Sims franchise and the insights of its creators, we feel we’ve brought something very special to life – and tens of millions of players around the world have responded with extraordinary enthusiasm over the last few weeks. “

“We’re looking forward to working with players to evolve the game and its features in new and exciting ways in the coming months and beyond.” Segerstrale added.

EA has previously brought a number of high profile names to the social media scene, including the likes of FIFA and Dragon Age.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on bringing established franchises to Facebook? Has it already fundamentally changed social media gaming? Could it encourage casual gamers to pick up more ‘hardcore’ titles?

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

[Source: MCV]

Train2Game students have never had a better chance to compete with big companies

In what will be music to Train2Game students ears, there’s never been a better time for small developers to be successful.

That’s according to Kristian Segerstrale, the boss of Playfish. As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Playfish social games are played by 55 million people a month.

“Never before has there been a time where as a small company you have such an unbelievable opportunity to challenge the big giants in any sector.” Segerstrale said while speaking at an event in London.

“And nowhere is there such an opportunity as in mobile.”

As Train2Game students will know, the rise of mobile gaming has made it much simpler for aspiring developers to get their work out there. Indeed, Train2Game student Georgij Cernysiov from the North East of England has released his own iPhone game, Euro Destruction.

And Segerstrale believes the number of smartphone owners could rise from 1.5 billion to 4 billion over the next five years, thanks to the world’s emerging economies.

“There’s an opportunity that big companies can’t do: it’s hard to focus on this platform when you’re big. People are migrating from desktops to mobiles, and big companies won’t do it, you guys will,” said the Playfish boss.

“It is horrible today to be a big company and want to do something new and innovative and different.”

And as reported by the Train2Game blog, UK developer Ninja Theory appear to agree with Segerstrale in that they believe it’s easier to be creative for a mobile or digital device.

Train2Game students can get an insight into life as an indie developer from the Train2Game blog interview with Liverpool based micro studio Hogrocket. The ex-Bizarre team recently released their first iPhone title, Tiny Invaders.

What are your thoughts on Segerstrale’s comments? Does the emergence of mobile really mean that small developers can compete with the established giants? Would you prefer to develop for mobile?

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

[Source: Develop]

Train2Game news: Activision say Call of Duty players “more engaged” than Facebook gamers

Train2Game students will be highly aware that social media gaming is one of the fastest growing areas of the games industry. Indeed, it’s an area that could provide Train2Game students with jobs in future.

Activision however, despite being one of the biggest game publishers on the planet, have so far steered clear of the social media gaming race. The reason? They believe people are spending more time playing triple-A titles, such as their Call of Duty games, rather moving towards Facebook.

“Call of Duty has more players who pay-to-play online than any Facebook game and our players pay more per player on average than any Facebook game,” said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshber, speaking t the 13th Annual Pacific Crest Global Technology Leadership Forum

“They’re also more engaged – the percentage of Call of Duty’s monthly unique players that play the game every day is higher than that of the top three Facebook games.”

Activision are very happy to remain a console specific games publisher, and who can blame them with the biggest gaming franchise in the world under their belt. As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Call of Duty: Black Ops was the top selling video game of 2010.

“We feel [Activision’s] strategy continues to be very well aligned with the market opportunity,” Hirshberg said.

“Despite all the hand-wringing in our industry right now, people aren’t gaming less. In fact, they’re gaming more than ever. They’re just doing it with fewer games, and they’re spending more time playing those games than ever before.”

“Last year, of the top 10 best-selling games, all 10 of them were based on strong existing franchises, and nine of those 10 were online enabled” he concluded.

The trend of successful Call of Duty titles looks set to continue with Modern Warfare 3, which as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, “will bring the most advanced multiplayer ever”

“The passion and energy of our developers is reflected in everything about the title.  From the innovative gameplay, to the cinematic intensity, to the most advanced multiplayer ever, Modern Warfare 3 will raise the bar for this already incredible franchise.” Hirshberg said following the reveal trailer.

See the first Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 trailer here on the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, is Activision taking a risk by not investing in social media gaming? Or are they right to keep all of their eggs in the console basket?

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

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game students take note – one third of UK population using smartphones

 

One third of people in Great Britain own a smartphones, while gaming is the fastest growing online pastime.

That’s according to a report from Ofcom, which argue confirms something the Train2Game blog has reported on a number of times – that mobile gaming is becoming a huge phenomenon. It’s therefore an area that Train2Game students would be wise to think about pursuing a career in.

And while the Ofcom report states the iPhone, with its easy to use App store, is still the preferred choice of smartphone for many, the Train2Game blog previously reported that Android devices are increasing their share in the market.  Indeed, many Train2Game forum users own Android smartphones themselves.

Interesting, the Blackberry is the most popular smartphone among teenagers.

Meanwhile, the Ofcom report reveals that there’s been a 23% increase in online gaming over the last year, with smartphones likely to have contributed to this too. Online social media games are also becoming more and more popular, with the Train2Game blog reporting that more and more developers are using it as a platform to release games.

Indeed as reported by the Train2Game blog earlier this week, Civilization developer Sid Meier said games ‘will take over the world’ and social media gaming will play a part in this.

“I think now is one of the most exciting times to be a Game Designer” said Meier.

“With the rapid growth of social network games there are new opportunities for smaller indie developers to make and distribute games, so we’re seeing a wider variety of games on all kinds of cool devices than ever before. That’s great for the whole industry.”

And as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, both smartphone and social media gaming, free-to-play could provide a viable model for making revenue from games.

“The guys who are making more money are allowing people – if they like the game – to keep upgrading. And instead of the maximum amount of that money you can make from customer being 99c you can make $5, in some cases $30.” Industry analyst Nicholas Lovell previously told the Train2Game blog.

So with one third of Brits using a smartphone, that’s a huge potential audience for any iPhone games produced by Train2Game students; it could very much be your future.

So Train2Game, do you see developing games for smartphones as a good career path?  Is the potential audience just going to keep growing?

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

[Source: Develop]

Train2Game news: Games ‘will take over the world’ says Civilization creator

 Students are taking Train2Game courses because they have aspirations of working in the games industry.

They’ll therefore be buoyed by comments from Civilization creator Sid Meier in which he states that games will ‘someday take over the world’

“I’ve always claimed that games will someday take over the world and from where things sit today, that seems to be happening” Meier told Industry Gamers.

There are so many different gaming platforms and a constant stream of new games for players to enjoy in any way they choose, which is great for gamers.”

The Civilization creator believes the growing popularity of Facebook games means there are more opportunities out there than ever before.

“I think now is one of the most exciting times to be a Game Designer” said Meier.

“With the rapid growth of social network games there are new opportunities for smaller indie developers to make and distribute games, so we’re seeing a wider variety of games on all kinds of cool devices than ever before. That’s great for the whole industry.”

Indeed, as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, a version of Civilization – Civ World – is one of the many Facebook games available to play. Meanwhile, Zynga’s Allies & Empires gained over 33 million users just three weeks after its launch.

It’s also entirely possible that if a Train2Game student ended up developing social media games in their first role in the industry, it’s entirely possible they’d get more hands on experience with that than they could with games for another platform.

“A Game Designer is actually more important on a social game than on a triple-A game because on a triple-A game you spend a lot of time making technology and tools and gigabytes worth of animations and things like that.” said Zynga’s Game Designer Brian Reynolds earlier this year. Reynolds previously worked on Civilization II.

“I can remember whole months going by where they didn’t need me to do any game design whereas on social games it’s a game designer’s paradise.”

Games are going to take over the world and social media will provide an even bigger opportunity for that to happen! Sounds good, right?

So Train2Game, is Sid Meier right? Will games ‘take over the world’? Is the growth of social media gaming good for the industry as a whole?

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

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game students can play Civilization on Facebook as more devs join social media gaming

Regular Train2Game blog readers will be familiar with Zynga’s Allies & Empires, which has gained more users than social gaming behemoth Farmville.

Its release was seen by some as a pre-emptive move against, Sid Meier’s Civilization World which is now available to play on Facebook. Yes, that’s the same Civilization that’s been such a hit with PC Gamers for many, many years.

“With over ten million units sold worldwide, Sid Meier’s Civilization  is world renowned as one of the greatest strategy game franchises,” said Christoph Hartmann, President of  publisher2K.

“We’re excited to bring this fun and social game to people on Facebook, enabling fans of the series to play Civilization World from almost anywhere in the world; while offering newcomers a chance to enjoy this addictive strategy gameplay that has fascinated gamers for two decades.”

The game is described as ‘an online world where players collaborate with friends to become the strongest nation to accomplish an end goal of becoming the world’s most powerful civilization.’

“Our team set out to create an exciting  Civilization  game for Facebook where for the first time, players can join with their friends to build a powerful empire and rule the world,” said Sid Meier, Director of Creative Development at Firaxis Games.

“Civilization World  is a fun and engaging game that both fans of the series and fans of Facebook games will find immediately addictive, and we look forward to adding to the experience as the game continues to evolve in this dynamic new gaming world.”

Civilization’s move to the social media sphere may not come as a big surprise to some Train2Game students, given that Frontierville and former Civilization II designer Brian Reynolds has previously heaped praise on social media games.

He also mentioned how the role of a Game Designer is much more important in a smaller, social media title than a Triple-A game.

“But it turns out that the skills we have are really valuable in social games and it’s actually really fun to design those games. First of all, I’m working on the forefront of a new thing. Second of all, I’m reaching (millions), tens of (millions) of players I could never have reached before” said Reynolds.

And third, I really need my skills. It’s harder to design these games. We do the same things we did with strategy games: Design simple systems that interact in complex ways, but they have to be so much more accessible then they used to.”

And as reported by the Train2Game blog, another PC strategy title in the form of Age of Empires will also soon be heading to Facebook.

Train2Game students already know that Facebook is a huge area of gaming now, and the fact that big developers and publishers want to get involve only solidifies this.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Civilization coming to Facebook? Would you play it? What other classic games would you like to see online?

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

[Source: Gamasutra]

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