Train2Game News One Special Day 2019

One Special Day, the games industry’s biggest annual day of fundraising, returns on Friday 4th October 2019 and already some of the giants of the industry have pledged their support.

Over 50 partners from across the games industry including SEGA, Codemasters, Jagex and Zynga will be rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in the event, which promises to be the biggest yet. Many companies will be donating a day of their income from game sales whilst others will stage their own fundraising events.

All the funds raised will support the work of SpecialEffect, the games industry charity dedicated to levelling the playing field for disabled gamers.

Since its inception in 2016, One Special Day has been supported by developers and gamers from all over the world and has raised over £900,000. The vital funds enable SpecialEffect to help disabled gamers both the UK and around the world through personalised help, developer support and initiatives such as EyeMine, software for controlling Minecraft with the eyes.

SpecialEffect CEO and Founder, Dr Mick Donegan, said “We’re overjoyed with the response again this year and very grateful to our One Special Day partners. The day unites the worldwide games industry and their fantastic communities of gamers because they all understand what incredible work we’re doing here. SpecialEffect has a profoundly positive impact on the lives of disabled gamers and events like One Special Day play a huge role in enabling us to reach more in the coming year.”

Companies including Rocksteady, Space Ape, Miniclip, Seriously, Outfit7 and Rare have also signed up. Craig Duncan, Rare Studio Head, said “Because of their unique work, SpecialEffect hold a special place in our heart, and indeed the whole of the video games industry, so we’re looking forward to making One Special Day 2019 the biggest so far.”

Rich Eddy, Director of Communications at Jagex, added “Our RuneScape community has celebrated SpecialEffect’s incredible work for many years, so there was no question that Jagex would be a proud supporter of this year’s event and play a big part in One Special Day. By putting the fun and inclusion back into the lives of those with physical disabilities to play video games, the work of SpecialEffect really levels the playing field”.

For more information on how your company can get involved in One Special Day, email Nick Streeter at nick@specialeffect.org.uk or go to www.onespecialday.org.uk

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: 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]

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]

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?