MediaFile

Facebook game chief sees rebirth of social games

Gareth Davis, games chief at social networking giant Facebook, says we’re in the middle of a “renaissance” in casual video games, as users transform a once solitary activity into a social one.

“Game play is an essentially human activity, a social activity,” Davis said in an interview at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Facebook, which has 175 million active monthly users, has seen an explosion in application development since it opened its platform to third-party developers nearly two years ago. The site now boasts 50,000 applications, the largest category of which is games, with more than 5,000.

“With all that growth what we’ve seen is a tremendous interest in the usage of games.” Three of the top 10 apps are games, he said: Texas HoldEm Poker, Pet Society and Mafia Wars. “Poker just passed 11 million monthly users, which is the same size as World of Warcraft.”

“At the dawn of gaming way, way, way back all games were social. We play together as human beings and then we invented games, which were board games and chess and cards. And these are all inherently social games, they’re no fun on their own. What happened I think about 30 years ago is technology came along to the point where you can play a video game and the games tended to be solo games.”

iPhone Apps mean money for game publisher ngmoco

Given the popularity of downloadable apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, many folks — namely some prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists — are confident there’s plenty of money to be made from app developers as well.******Ngmoco, which makes games exclusively for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, said Monday it has closed $10 million in Series B financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. The company’s previous investors –- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Maples Investments — also participated in the funding. Ngmoco received $5.6 million in its first round of financing.******Ngmoco — which stands for “next generation mobile company” — was born last year along with Apple’s App Store, and the company’s profile has risen in tandem with the store’s popularity. Users have downloaded more than 800 million apps in total and the store now features more than 25,000 offerings.******Ngmoco’s games have been installed more than 7 million times. The company currently has seven titles –- its most popular is the $9.95 “Rolando Orlando” -– and 12 in development.******Neil Young, ngmoco’s chief executive and one of its co-founders, said in an interview that he was surprised by the “voracious” appetite for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Although he wouldn’t rule out making games for other platforms, he said the devices provide a unique opportunity for game makers.***

It’s just a blend of amazing capability with this awesome usability. And its clearly those two things that are enabling this new type of usage patterns both in terms of how people are consuming games and how much they’re consuming. And also the ease at which they’re able to get them. Until there are any other platforms that come close to that I think we’ll certainly remain focused on these devices.

******Young, who left game publishing giant Electronics Arts to launch ngmoco, declined to disclose a revenue figure for the company, which has 26 employees.******The App Store is estimated to offer some 6,000 games. Many see the iPhone and iPod Touch as legitimate competitors to Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP handheld gaming consoles, and that battle should play out over the coming months and years. IPhone games are expected to be much on display at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.******Keep an eye on:***

    *** EBay’s Skype plans to announce on Monday a version of its Internet calling software for small and medium-sized businesses (WSJ)

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    *** Former Yahoo Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig will take over Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero franchise (All Things Digital)

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