MediaFile

Zynga herding its users like sheep from game to game: data

Social games company Zynga is adept at converting its current players to its new games, just as smoothly as some of the top video game franchises like Call of Duty, according to a new 21-page report by the game tracking service and social network Raptr.

The report takes into account more than 3 million Zynga players who use Raptr’s game tracking applications.

“If Zynga were to release a new game tomorrow, our data reveals that 90 percent of users of that new game will come from an old game,” said Dennis Fong, Raptr’s co-founder.

While 90 percent is such a high conversation rate any company might strive to that target, it also means that Zynga could cannibalize its users if it doesn’t find new players.

“A 90 percent average means that only 10 percent of its users are new,” Fong said. “Zynga has its pool of players, which is admittedly very large and they are basically just herding them around from game to game. Where is their growth going to come from? That’s a big question mark.”

Obama talks jobs in Sil Valley; ex-Googler begs to be taxed more

It may be one of those “only in Silicon Valley moments.”

President Barack Obama made a return visit to the country’s high-tech cradle on Monday for a town hall event hosted by LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner.

The theme of the one-hour-long question-and-answer session was Obama’s job’s plan, with the professional social networking service’s popularity as a tool for modern-day job searches providing the perfect backdrop.

Indeed, several of the questions from the audience were from folks who said they were unemployed – and Obama sought to offer reassurance by walking through the standard doctrine and talking points from his jobs plan.

What’s cooler than a Facebook conference? A Sean Parker after-party.

When somebody who was played by Justin Timberlake in a Hollywood movie decides to throw a party, the expectations are pretty high.

And Sean Parker, the man behind free music-sharing service Napster and an early Facebook advisor, clearly likes to give people what they want.

Parker, who is an investor in the music service Spotify, pulled out all the stops in a post-Facebook developers conference party on Thursday that was a cross between a backstage concert pass and Trimalchio’s feast.

Tech wrap: Facebook strikes a chord

Facebook unveiled new features that center on the way users listen to music and watch TV, offering tie-ups with the likes of Spotify and Hulu, as it attempts to make media an integral part of its service. The features, which also include ways for users to spiff up profiles in a magazine, photo-heavy style, were introduced on Thursday during Facebook’s annual f8 developers’ conference in San Francisco by Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

For Facebook, a deeper integration of music, movies and other media into its service makes it more likely that users will spend more time on its site, enabling the company to generate more advertising dollars.

Serial entrepreneur and Stanford professor Steve Blank believes the moves by the world’s dominant social network are more of a threat to Apple than to Google.

Tech wrap: Google+ now open to the masses

Google has opened up its Google+ social network to anyone who’d like to give it a whirl, after a successful three-month run as an invite-only service. The company also rolled out a slew of new features for Google+, including integration of its flagship search engine into the platform, and expanded its Hangouts video-chatting feature to enable mobile use on its own Android-based smartphones. Support for Hangouts on Apple’s iOS mobile software is “coming soon”, Google promised in a blog post. Users will soon have the option to broadcast their Hangouts sessions beyond the nine allowed participants as well by opening them up to live viewing by anyone. Want to record a chat for posterity? Well, that’s coming soon too.

Google+ rival Facebook also unveiled new tweaks to its service on Tuesday, introducing a new “ticker” on its users’ home pages and providing real-time notifications of what friends are doing on the service. Facebook also revamped the service’s main news feed to flag important items — such as a new baby announcement — for Facebook users who have not logged on for a few days. Facebook also changed the way photos are displayed on the site, increasing the size of pictures that appear in a users’ news feed.

U.S. prosecutors accused poker website Full Tilt Poker on Tuesday of running a Ponzi scheme in which the company’s owners and board members paid themselves nearly half a billion dollars while defrauding players. That indictment accused three Internet poker companies — Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars — and 11 people, including Full Tilt director Raymond Bitar, of bank fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering offenses. Read the complaint in full here.

Connecting on Facebook, friendship no longer required

For years, connecting with people on Facebook has been a consensual act.

But that’s about to change as Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social networking service, introduces a new feature that means people will no longer need to be friends to form a relationship.

A new “subscribe” button announced on Wednesday will allow Facebook users to essentially tune-in to updates from people they are interested in, but don’t necessarily know personally, such as artists, political figures, corporate executives, or columnists.

If that sounds similar to the way things work on Twitter, where an individual can “follow” anyone who is on the service and read their “tweets,” that’s because it is.  Perhaps more importantly, it’s similar to the capabilities available on Google+, the Internet search giant’s recently-launched social networking service.

Facebook to Google: You say Circles, We say Smart Lists

Facebook is unleashing another volley of product changes, as the world’s No.1 Internet social networking service moves to eliminate any gaps between its offering and new rival Google+.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it will make it easier for users of the service to organize their friends into different groups, such as family and work colleagues. The changes are designed to make using Facebook – whether sharing videos and photos, or having online dialogues – more like real life, where people behave differently in different contexts.

That notion, of course, is also one of the founding principles of Google’s two-and-a-half month old social networking service, which lets users drag-and-drop pictures of their friends into different circles, and publish information accordingly. According to some estimates, Google+ has already garnered more than 25 million users.

Gina Bianchini rings up Mightybell, a social media help kit

Gina Bianchini — the bubbly, well-connected former CEO of social network Ning — is back in the social media game after a 18 months as entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Her new venture is called Mightybell and essentially is a back to basics type of social media start-up which aims to help users create step-by-step, day-to-day actions which friends and others could follow.
For example, if you’re exploring a new hobby you could follow an expert or enthusiast and read their blogs, status messages, see their photos and watch videos on how they achieved a particular goal.
“Mightybell seeks to offer creators, instigators, bloggers, organizers, operatives, entertainers, artists, teachers, guides, and everyone’s alpha friend a simple way to take new social technologies and turn them into better, more compelling experiences for people in the real world. It’s the obvious next step in social media,” said Bianchini in a statement.
Mightybell launches in beta form as an iPhone and Web-based application.
The start-up, of just 9 people so far, raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Floodgate and First Round Capital as well as “a handful” of angel investors.

Tech wrap: Facebook cashes in on ads

Facebook’s first-half revenue roughly doubled to $1.6 billion, underscoring the world’s largest social network’s appeal to advertisers, a source with knowledge of its financials told Reuters. Net income in the first half of 2011 came to almost $500 million, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous because privately-held Facebook does not disclose its results. Facebook’s stronger results come as investors have pushed its valuation to roughly $80 billion in private markets, with many industry observers expecting the world’s No. 1 Internet social network to go public in 2012.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock fired CEO Carol Bartz over the phone on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous tenure marked by stagnation and a rift with Chinese partner Alibaba. CFO Tim Morse will step in as interim CEO, and the company will search for a permanent leader to spearhead a battle in online advertising and content with rivals Google and Facebook. Some analysts said Bartz’s departure signaled the company had run out of options after failing to dominate the advertising and content markets and handing over its search operations to Microsoft.

Best Buy said it will offer products online from other sellers through a new third-party Marketplace as the electronics retailer tries to better compete with Internet rivals Amazon.com and eBay. Best Buy Marketplace will add roughly one-third more products online in time for the holiday shopping rush. Buy.com, Mambate, SF Planet, ANT Online, BeachAudio.com and Wayfair are the third-party sellers that signed up for the launch.

Zynga’s new game is less FarmVille, more Indiana Jones

Zynga is famous for making games about farm chores but now that it is on the brink of its IPO, it is trying something different. In the most complex game Zynga has released so far on Facebook, players in Adventure World need to unlock clues and puzzles to find the last city of gold, El Dorado. Reuters spoke with Nabeel Hyatt, the general manager of Zynga Boston about why this is a new direction for Zynga, which is not known for World of Warcraft-type quests. Zynga bought his company, Conduit Labs, last summer and now he leads the team that made the game hitting Facebook in a few weeks.

REUTERS: What makes Adventure World different from other Zynga games?

HYATT: We consider this to be a new genre of social game that hasn’t existed before. The overall adventure genre goes back 20 years and hasn’t really had a place in social games. You can’t build the same kind of social game that you would have built for a hardcore gamer. If you think about FarmVille and CityVille, we call them ‘invest and express games’ where you grow a city over time and you use that to express yourself. This is very different. It’s a new bold move for Zynga to make that is about exploring, discovering and uncovering secrets and solving puzzles and moving across lots of different maps and worlds. This game is a really broad expansive experience with more than 30 different environments when it launches and over 20,000 objects.

REUTERS: Why is this a new direction for Zynga? Is this going to be Zynga’s version of World of Warcraft?