MediaFile

Is Zynga’s lead slipping on Facebook?

Electronic Arts, the second-largest video game company in the U.S., is stealing market share away from Zynga, the top dog in social games on Facebook, according to a new report on gaming behavior.

The report, released on Wednesday, is based on data that tracks the game play of more than 10 million users of Raptr, a website that automatically tracks its users’ video game activity on Facebook, consoles and PCs.

 “EA has stolen 10 to 25 percent playtime from Zynga’s top games,” the report said.

Since the launch of Sims Social, EA’s Facebook game that has more than 66 million monthly active users, Zynga games such as FarmVille, CityVille and Empires & Allies have all lost players, the report shows.

To be sure, Zynga still dwarfs EA’s users on Facebook by more than 2-1 according to the website AppData.

Tech wrap: BlackBerry problems hit four continents

Disruptions to BlackBerry services spread to Latin America on Tuesday, more than a day after users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India suffered extended outages. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd, which is losing share of the corporate email market it once took for granted, said it was working on the problem but gave no details of the cause.

Adding to RIM’s woes, a growing mass of its investors backs calls for a sale or break-up of the company and wants a new, “transformational leader” at its helm, according to a shareholder leading the drive for change.

Business-software company Box has won $81 million in funding to expand its business, illustrating investors’ continued appreciation for start-up companies that tap into the cloud.

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.

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?

Playdom gets acquisitive

Fresh on the heels of its $43 million financing round, social gaming company Playdom announced a pair of acquisitions Thursday in a move to expand its portfolio of games. It acquired Facebook game developer Green Patch and Trippert Labs, which develops games on Apple’s iPhone. Terms of the deal were not released.

Playdom Chief Executive John Pleasants said in a phone interview that while the company’s main goal is to develop its own titles, it will make acquisitions opportunistically. “We have ample cash to do deals on our own,” he said.

Social gaming companies are suddenly on investor’s radar screens. Earlier this week, Electronic Arts said it would pay $275 million in cash for Playfish, a Playdom rival, along with other consideration that could eventually lift the company’s valuation to $400 million. Social gaming companies earn money by selling virtual goods to players.

Social gaming startup eyes big opportunity

Social gaming startups, which offer free-to-play games on sites like Facebook and MySpace, have been all the rage, scooping up funding from the venture capital community and nabbing executives from traditional gaming outfits. The hoopla seems warranted given the meteoric growth many expect to see in the space over the next few years.

Playdom, which was launched last year but only emerged from stealth mode in March, recently made a big splash when it lured John Pleasants from his perch as COO of Electronic Arts to become its CEO. Playdom battles rivals Zynga — which predicts revenue of $100 million or more this year — and Playfish in an increasingly competitive space.

In an interview, Pleasants called his return to the startup space “refreshing” and used a whiteboard to make a convincing case about the industry’s potential. He pegs the overall social gaming market at around $500 million, but expects that to increase ten-fold in the next several years.

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.