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.

Inside Zynga: Tour the office that’s raised the ante in Web start-up workspaces

Remember when a foosball table or a massage chair at the office was all it took for a company to flaunt its Web street cred?

Today, such on-site accoutrements seem as passé as a cathode ray tube monitor sitting atop a desk – a fact reporters discovered on Tuesday when they were invited to the new headquarters of Zynga, the social gaming giant that’s poised to do an IPO of up to $1 billion.

At the event, Zynga’s top brass took the stage to unveil a flurry of new games. But the event also gave the five-year-old company, whose hit titles include FarmVille and Mafia Wars, the chance to show off the new theme-park-like digs it moved into over the summer.

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.

A simple plan to save Yahoo, by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman

In Silicon Valley, it’s not tough to find someone to offer advice on how to save Yahoo, the struggling Internet portal that fired CEO Carol Bartz last week.
But one voice that the Sunnyvale, California-based company may want to pay attention to is Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn-turned-venture capitalist, and one of the most respected players in the fast-growing social networking market.
While investment bankers and private equity advisors are circling around Yahoo, looking for the best way to break the company into little pieces that can be auctioned off to the highest bidder, Hoffman thinks Yahoo may still be able to pull off a comeback.
“I think renovation and rebirth is possible and I think that’s the play you make,” Hoffman said, citing the Apple example, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Monday.
How would he do it?
First, Hoffman said he’d focus on investing the resources to make big technological innovations on Yahoo’s most popular online assets, such as its Web-based email product, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Groups.
Then, he suggested, Yahoo to end its reliance on online brand advertising and get creative about how it makes money.
“There are other kinds of business models that I think we have yet to invent on the consumer Internet,” Hoffman said, citing Zynga, which has developed revenue from new sources, such as the sale of virtual goods that enhance the experience of Zynga games.
So there you have it, a simple two-step plan to revive Yahoo. Perhaps Reid Hoffman should call Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang directly…

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?

Tech wrap: Breaking down Zynga’s possible IPO delay

One of tech’s most anticipated public offerings of the year could be delayed, according to a report in the New York Post on Monday. Online gaming company Zynga may hold off on its IPO until November said The Post, citing a “source close to the company.”

The delay is partly related to questions the SEC has about how Zynga measures its daily and monthly users, as well as its bookings, CNBC reported. “Zynga’s accounting measures are less worrisome to the SEC than Groupon’s, says one person familiar with the matter, but the agency is nonetheless working to make Zynga’s prospectus as accessible to investors as possible,” writes CNBC’s Kate Kelly.

Renowned venture capitalist Alan Patricof, managing director of Greycroft Partners LLC, told Bloomberg TV he thinks Zynga is merely waiting for a “hole in the market,” which he described as a one or two-week period where the markets are up and the underwriting bank “calls up and says we’re going tomorrow.”

Tech wrap: Clash of tech titans looming?

Apple Inc’s increasingly effective patent war against rivals like Samsung Electronics may mask its real target: arch-foe Google Inc. Poornima Gupta writes: “Recent success in blocking sales of Samsung’s latest Galaxy tablet in most of Europe and Apple’s challenges to the Korean giant in Australia reflect an aggressive effort to defend its top position in the red-hot mobile market from the runaway success of Android.”

AOL said on Thursday it would buy back $250 million of its stock, a move presumably intended to boost confidence in the shares, which fell 32 percent in two days. AOL has been in a turnaround mode since it was spun off from Time Warner in December 2009 after one of the most disastrous mergers in recent times.

Zynga, which has filed for an initial public offering of up to $1 billion, revealed it draws fewer paid players than expected in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Tech wrap: Is Groupon’s IPO window closing?

As the Nasdaq Composite index continued its week-long tailspin, tech investors and analysts are wondering what the stock plunge could mean for the pending IPOs of companies like Groupon and Zynga.

The coming week, which has about a dozen IPOs scheduled to price, will be a good test of the severity of the selloff, according to Nick Einhorn, an analyst at Connecticut-based IPO research house Renaissance Capital. “Less mature, less profitable companies could have a tougher time going public,” Einhorn told Reuters.

If there was to be another recession, writes Investor Place’s Tom Taulli, “the IPO market will freeze up. It will mostly be only standout companies – such as Zynga and Facebook – that will get traction. A company like Groupon, which has substantial losses, may have to delay its offering or cut the valuation.”

In a twist, Zynga brings mobile game to Facebook

On Monday, Zynga said it would be bringing its most popular mobile game, “Words with Friends,” to Facebook. The social games maker said the game would be coming soon.

Players on Apple- or Android-powered devices will be able to carry over games from their phones or tablets onto Facebook. Zynga, in an attempt at bathroom humor, said this would allow “a seamless transition from your work computer to the bathroom… don’t lie, you know you do it.”

While it’s no surprise that Zynga would want to tap Facebook to attract more users to “Words with Friends” — a game you have to play with at least one other person — it’s a curious move for a company whose biggest IPO risk is its dependence on Facebook. Future investors are more likely to welcome an announcement in which Zynga distances itself from Facebook, like the recent one about Zynga entering mainland China through its partner Tencent.