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.”

from Fan Fare:

Hulu gets social

Video streaming Web site marked its one-year anniversary on Thursday by announcing new social networking features, as the site seeks to gain ground on other Internet entertainment hubs.hulu-ceo-jason-kilar
The Web site, a joint venture between General Electric Co.-owned NBC Universal and News Corp., launched "Hulu Friends" which integrates functions from social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, as well as e-mail providers Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, and allows users to see what their friends are watching, share new videos and leave notes for each other.
Hulu, which allows visitors to view television episodes and movies on their home computers, still has a long way to go if it hopes to catch up to video sharing giant Internet tracking site comScore reported this month that YouTube accounted for about 43 percent of all videos viewed over the Internet in January. By comparison, had only a 1.7 percent share of all videos viewed. The Google-owned YouTube has reached out to mainstream entertainment companies, including Universal Music Group, as the site seeks to add more premium entertainment on its site. But unlike YouTube, which mostly has short video clips, Hulu allows users to view entire episodes, and it has positive trends in its favor.

Research firm Knowledge Networks reported in February that use of third-party video hosting sites such as Hulu to access network television shows doubled since 2007 among Internet video users age 13-54.

Facebook says Oops, (we) did it again

One day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking site would stand by its revised terms of use, he capitulated and said Facebook would return to its old terms while “we resolve the issues that people have raised.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook would work on a “substantial revision.” In the meantime, members can voice their opinions — or as the case has been, give vent to their outrage — through “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” a group created by the networking site.

Here’s a sampling of the 4,229 wall posts so far:

“you guys are a major corp and you think im to believe for a second that you would not share all of our information to make some money for yourselves……PLEASE TELL US ALL ANOTHER LIE!!!!!!!!!!” (James Stull, Montreal, QC)

VCs give Twitter a Valentine’s Day gift

Venture capitalists are stingy with their money right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t shell out a few dollars for a hot Internet startup like Twitter.

The micro-blogging website announced on its blog it had received new funding from venture capital firms Benchmark Capital and Institutional Venture Partners, although they didn’t say how much. Some folks are reporting it’s in the neighborhood of $35 million.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in a post Friday morning they weren’t looking for more funding. “Nevertheless, our strong growth attracted interest and we decided to accept a unique opportunity to make Twitter even stronger with a very attractive offer,” Stone wrote.

You’ve come a long way, baby

Facebook turns five today, and founder Mark Zuckerberg took a moment yesterday to reflect on the social networking site’s journey from a Harvard dorm room to an online hangout spot for 150 million people. It hasn’t been easy, Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post.

But “the challenge motivates us to keep innovating and pushing technical boundaries to produce better ways to share information,” he wrote.

And so in the spirit of sharing, Facebook members can “Give Thanks” to their online buddies via a free virtual gift today.

from Fan Fare:

MySpace Cafe at Sundance. Is it Yahoo II: the sequel?

USA/Years ago at the Sundance Film Festival, Yahoo! sponsored a small cafe where festivalgoers could drop in -- if they were on the list -- and grab a quick bite to eat. But over time, it seems Yahoo's fame and fortune as an Internet portal have receded, and in it's place popped up social networking site MySpace. And in recent years, MySpace has sponsored the cafe at Sundance.

Now, it seems that in its fifth year (2009) MySpace is facing the keen competitive threat of social networking site Facebook. So, when we sat down with MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe in the MySpace Cafe, we couldn't help but note the irony. Could MySpace be "Yahoo II: The Sequel"? (We couldn't resist the movie pun. It is Sundance, after all). DeWolfe laughed. He doesn't see it that way at all and, in fact, he said the outlook for MySpace appears bright.

"During the first half of our fiscal year, we are up (in revenues) year over year, and we're profitable. We're cautiously optimistic over the next 6 months," he said about the business climate. "The overall advertising marketing, in general, both online and offline is softening ... how that affects us in three or four months is really difficult to say ... (but) the economic downturn during Bear Stearns and the financial crisis, we've done great through all that, and again we're up year over year."