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Archive for the ‘Farmville’ Category

Are Facebook games a dying fad?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

FarmVilleInternet companies may launch their initial public offerings of stock with a splash, but that public arena has its drawbacks as both Facebook and Zynga are learning.

Zynga Inc., the maker of Facebook’s most popular games, Farmville, Words with Friends, Draw Something and others, saw it shares fall sharply yesterday on the heels of a report from analysts at Cowen and Co. saying the number of active daily users of its games fell 8 percent in May.

That’s the second consecutive monthly drop. All the Zynga games declined.

The San Francisco-based company’s stock fell 10 percent to $4.98 yesterday afternoon, down more than 50 percent from its $10 IPO price. The stock has traded as high as $15.91 (March).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a decline in Zynga game-players on my Facebook  stream for quite a while. While the games were extremely popular, many Facebook users did not like all Farmville and other game requests popping up on their newsfeed if they didn’t play.

Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz said consumers are switching to mobile games, something Zynga has been experimenting with, although the Facebook games are still its major focus.

Creutz said that Zynga’s games trail more weighty role-playing and multi-player games on mobile phones.

We’re not sure we agree with that. We see people playing easy zombie shooter games, Angry Birds, and solitaire most often on mobile devices.

What do you think? Are Facebook games a dying fad? Would you be sorry if they were?

Creutz cited figures from AppData in his analysis. — Allan Maurer


Zynga seeks $1.15B IPO, posts roadshow video

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

FarmVilleZynga, which created the Facebook games FarmVille, CityVille, and CastleVille, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise from $850 million to $1.15 billion in an initial public offering of stock at a valuation of from $5.9 billion to $6.99 billion.

The social game maker will price the offering, which reports peg at 100 million shares (about 14.3 percent), Dec. 15 and begin trading the following day under the ZNGA on the Nasdaq exchange. Zynga had previously planned to launch its IPO July 1.

The valuation is about a third of the $15 billion to $20 billion bandied about when it filed initially.

Founded in 2007, Zynga makes money selling virtual goods for its popular, free Facebook games. It reported net income of $12.5 million in its third quarter, down from $27 million in the same period a year ago, but up from $1.4 million profit on $2809 million in revenue in the second quarter.

Its CastleVille, launched just over two weeks ago, already has 20.8 million users, making it one of the fastest growing games ever. CityVille, launched a year ago, has 58 million active monthly players, according to its roadshow video.

Zynga plans a 9-day roadshow to pitch the IPO to potential investors. It posted this video version of its roadshow pitch.


Sharp spike in tech savvy shoppers expected on Black Friday (infographic)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

SocialVibe, a digital ad tech company, shows that 70 percent of tech-savvy consumers plan to shop on Black Friday – the Friday after Thanksgiving – which is a steep increase over 52 percent of respondents who reported they shopped on Black Friday in 2010.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 70 percent of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed plan to shop this Black Friday, up from 52 percent who reported they did so in 2010
  • 61 percent of surveyed consumers plan on taking advantage of Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving) deals this year
  • The most popular items on people’s shopping lists are Computers/Laptops (40 percent); Clothing (38 percent); Electronics (34 percent); and TVs (32 percent)

SocialVibe Holiday Shopping Infographic

    “Our research shows that about two-thirds of consumers intend to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so brands should really be looking for effective ways to draw people into stores, as well as drive site traffic on these mega-shopping days,” said Jay Samit, CEO of SocialVibe.

“The key to reaching consumers is to interact with them, rather than rely on a display ad, in the environments where they are already engaged and then provide a valued benefit along with your message. It’s not too late to look beyond banners and fuel holiday sales by incorporating engagement ads into your media plan for the holiday shopping season.”

Throughout October 2011, SocialVibe surveyed the most active social media consumers across eight of the top 10 Facebook apps and other social sites about holiday shopping trends.

The study, which was opt-in and garnered more than 1,000 responses, ran throughout SocialVibe’s network of premium publisher sites including Pandora and and social games such as Zynga’s FarmVille and CityVille.

SocialVibe’s  value-exchange advertising platform offers consumers something they value – such as virtual currency for a social game, premium content, or a donation to charity – in exchange for paying attention to and interacting with an ad. Consumers who completed the in-ad unit survey were rewarded for their participation with virtual currency or a free donation to charity, for example.

“Online advertising campaigns that incorporate interactive features and provide an incentive in exchange for a consumer’s attention to a brand message can increase website and in-store traffic, as proven by the research we announced last month with KN Dimestore,” Samit continued.

According to the company, the ads work well.

“Consumers exposed to SocialVibe’s engagement ads are 161 percent more likely to visit a brand’s website and 36 percent more likely to shop for a brand at the store after interacting with the ad—key metrics brands should be thinking about when it comes to holiday-driven marketing campaigns.”

A Farmville movie?; Netflix keeping DVD biz; Kindle Fire news

Monday, October 10th, 2011

FarmVilleTwo Hollywood scriptwriters are in talks with Zynga to adapt the Farmville game as a movie.

Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, who wrote “Toy Story” and “Garfield,” disclosed the talks.  The game debuted on Facebook in 2009 and was a major hit for Zynga, even if it did annoy many Facebook users when their friends sent numerous Farmville requests (a problem that persists with Zynga “Mafia Wars” players on Facebook).

Rumors say Zynga is also interested in developing a “Mafia Wars” game, which seems a more likely movie inspiration than “Farmville.”



Netflix keeping its DVD service after all

Well, that didn’t last long: Netflix told its customers it is abandoning plans to spin off its DVD division as Qwikster and will keep both services bundled on its home page and customer accounts.

Netflix also says it is beefing up its streaming service, adding AMC’s popular “Walking Dead” series to its streaming service. The way Netflix has been stumbling around lately, you have to wonder if it doesn’t have some zombies stalking its halls. The first season is available now, and it will also be offering past seasons of AMC’s other original series, “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men.” walking dead

The company stumbled when it essentially doubled its price for customers who have both its streaming and its DVD service. Many users cancelled and the company’s share price plummeted 60 percent since that announcement in July. The company apologized, but that didn’t satisfy disgruntled customers.

Our columnist Joe Procopio had this to say:

Why I’m breaking up with Netflix  



Amazon trademarks Kindle Fire under different company name

Kindle Fire

A Kindle Fire tablet computer



H’mm, now what does this mean? Amazon Inc. has trademarked its new Kindle Fire tablet and related products under the a separate company name, Seesaw LLC.

The online retail giant makes a handful of Kindle’s now with more to come. A new version sells for only $79.

Personally, we love our Kindle WiFi, but we’ve ordered a Kindle Fire. We’ll likely continue to do most of our reading on the eInk WiFi Kindle, which is as easy on the eyes as words on paper, but could use a light connected tablet. We found the 10-inch Galaxy tablet from Motorola too bulky (and overpriced), but this 7-incher from Amazon may do the trick.

We’ll let you know after we try it out. — Allan Maurer








Music & video services will drive mobile consumer cloud revenue to $6.5B

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Juniper ResearchHigh-profile launches from players such as Amazon, Google and Apple are expected to galvanize the growing market for consumer cloud mobility services, generating revenues reaching almost $6.5 billion per annum by 2016, a new report from Juniper Research has found.

According to the report, while initial consumer deployments in the cloud were focused primarily on the social networking space, music and video storage/acquisition services such as Amazon’s Cloud Drive and the forthcoming Apple iCloud are expected to gain rapid traction with substantial adoption over both smartphones and tablets.

Both services are geared to migrating end users’ music collections onto the cloud as well as enabling the purchase and storage of additional tracks, while Amazon also offers a cloud-based delivery mechanism with its Cloud Player.

Further opportunities in social media, security solutions

However, mobile social media services are also expected to benefit as providers increasingly seek to develop revenue streams based around virtual goods: the report highlighted the success of Zynga’s Farmville, and suggested that growth in this sector should receive a particularly strong boost as consumer tablet adoption accelerates.

While the report claimed that the increasingly competitive storage sector meant that the provision of consumer storage in isolation was unlikely to generate substantial returns in the longer term, it identified bundled storage and security solutions as a key growth area. According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, “The handset is now the repository — in many cases the sole repository — for data such as photographs, videos, address books, games and music; when the device is lost or stolen, that data may be irreplaceable. Hence, the facility to offer remote back-up becomes increasingly attractive.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • Enterprises need to develop policies to cover the use of consumer smart devices in the workplace
  • Cloud offers network operators the opportunity to develop double-sided revenues from PaaS solutions for enterprise and consumer markets

The Mobile Cloud White Paper is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the study ‘Mobile Cloud: Smart Device Strategies for Enterprise & Consumer Markets 2011-2016.’

Early bird rate on Raleigh Internet Summit ends Aug. 31

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Internet SummitRALEIGH, NC – You can still get the Early Bird rate of only $195 to attend the Internet Summit 2011 in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 15-16, but only until August 31.

The Summit promises to be the biggest and best yet. It features:

  • Keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk, “Social Media King” & NY Times bestselling author
  • Over 100 top thought leaders & industry innovators sharing insight on topics that matter to you
  • More than 60 presentations & panels covering topics likeSearch/SEO, Social Media, Analytics, Mobile, Video & more
  • Network and connect with close to 2000 of your peers
  • Leading edge concepts & strategies you can put to use today
  • Entrepreneur offerings – Startup Bootcamp, Demo Showcase & Startup Lounge
  • Dedicated Tech Track for IT Professionals from cubicle to the corner office
  • Opening reception special performance by master video DJ Mike Relm
  • Additional Pre-Conference offering 25 more in-depth sessions led by expert interactive and marketing pros

Early confirmed presenters include:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk, Co-Founder, VaynerMedia
  • Mac Cendella, Founder & CEO, The Ladders
  • Perry Cooper, Sr VP Digital Media, NHL
  • Peggy Fry, Chief Revenue Officer, Clearspring Technologies
  • Bob Young, Founder & CEO,
  • Jack Krawczyk, Sr Product Marketing Mgr, StumbleUpon
  • Jeff Ragovin, Chief Revenue Officer, Buddy Media
  • David Perry, Business Development Executive, Google
  • Donna DeMarco, Co-Founder & VP, Viddler
  • Ryan Mannion, Chief Technology Officer, Politico
  • Fran Maier, President & Executive Chair, TRUSTe
  • Scott Gunter, VP of User Experience, Usability Sciences
  • Lindsay Wassell, Partner & Consultant, KeyphraSEOlogy
  • Gerard Bush, Chief Creative Dir, The brpr Group
  • Rob Ousbey, VP Operations Seattle, Distilled
  • Jim Tobin, President, Ignite Social Media
  • Kevin Pomplun, CEO, SkyGrid
  • Sherry Bastion, Web Creative Director, Lenovo
  • John Lovett, Sr Partner, Web Analytics Demystified
  • Mike Relm, Relmvision
  • Lynette Montgomery, VP Ecommerce, Burt’s Bees
  • Noah Dinkin, Co-Founder & President, FanBridge
  • Jessica Bowman,
  • Donna Bedford, Global SEO Lead, Lenovo

​Register today, prices increase September 1st

Hulu, 1M subscribers; Facebook civilized; Amazon music; Google Plus

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

HuluThe online video service Hulu says it expects it will have more than a million paid subscribers by the end of summer. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said in a blog post that 875,000 people were subscribing to the $8 a month service in June. Hulu also offers a free ad-supported service, although the premium ad free service also offers additional programing choices.

Hulu, which is up for sale, is owned by The Walt Disney Corp., News Corp. and Comcast Corp., is headed for about $500 million in revenue in 2011, up from $263 million from 2010. The Associated Press reports that the company is talking to a dozen potential buyers, including Yahoo and Google.

Facebook gets civilized

The popular Sid Meier game “Civilization,” in which players construct a virtual world over millennia, is coming to Facebook as Civ World. The social version of the PC game – one of many developed by Meier – has players cooperate to build cities, act as diplomats, and develop economies and scientific advancements. It is a more cerebral game than many others on Facebook.

The game is free, but sells virtual items the same way as Farmville and Mafia Wars. The number of items players can buy in a single day is limited. As many as 200 people can play each game, which proceeds from ancient times and proceeds to beyond the space age. The game does not bug other Facebook friends with messages about a player’s activities, one of the things that bother many about Zynga’s Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Amazon to allow unlimited music storage in the cloud Inc. (AMZN) says users of its Cloud Drive can now store an unlimited amount of music there for $20 a year.

Music Amazon customers buy from the company is stored in the cloud free. If you’ve ever had problems grabbing your music with Amazon’s downloader or only received part of an album, you may appreciate Amazon’s cloud storage of your buys. The company has always been good about restoring albums for download if we had problems, but it’s a pain. With the cloud service, whatever you buy is right there if you want to download it to a different device or something went wrong.

Amazon’s new iPad Cloud Players resembles its similar program for Android devices. Both Amazon and Apple Inc. are pushing their cloud music services as smartphones continue to gain marketshare and other mobile devices such as tablets become increasingly popular.

Google Plus reopens invites, but says businesses should wait to create a profile

Google logoGoogle+, which briefly suspended invites to its new social networking service this week due to “insane demand,” has reopened its invites. Whether the new service will fare better than its previous attempt, which so far as we can tell, sank without much fanfare following a lot of hoopla upon its presentation, should soon be evident.

Google says businesses should wait to create Google+ listings.

In the video below, Google+ Ad Lead Christian Qestlien says business owners who list a firm that is not an actual person risk being removed by Google.

He says the company is working on a business optimized version of the social networking service. It will include analytics and the ability to connect to other parts of Google the business may use daily, such as AdWords.

Facebook alters “anticompetitive” virtual money terms, but FTC action still needed, says group

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Facebook logoFacebook has revised terms for game developers using its “virtual money,” Facebook Credits, changing one blatant anticompetitive provision in the wake of an antitrust complaint from Consumer Watchdog, but Federal Trade Commission Intervention is still necessary, the nonpartisan, nonprofit group, says.

These developments are important to a number of companies in the digital space, not just game developers. A number of firms are developing ways for marketers to offer Facebook credits to consumers for taking certain actions, from watching a video to clicking on a link.

Facebook’s revised terms still require developers to use Facebook Credits exclusively to sell virtual goods in their games and to pay an exorbitant 30 percent fee for redeeming credits so they can be paid. Facebook also claims the right to change the Facebook Credits terms at any time.

“Faced with an antitrust complaint, Facebook tweaked one blatantly anticompetitive provision, but they’ve used their monopoly position to maintain an onerous burden on developers that ultimately will mean higher prices for consumers,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.

Not run from a dorm any more

“Facebook tweaked its terms when its worst policies were highlighted; now there is nothing to stop them from changing them when the heat’s off. We call on the FTC to formally block Facebook’s predatory policies.”

The old policy prevented game developers from offering lower prices for virtual goods when they used a different platform for a game than Facebook — for example My Space or Yahoo or their own website — a clear limit on fair price competition.

“Facebook isn’t being run out of a dorm room anymore,” said Simpson. “It’s a global, multi-billion dollar corporate giant that dominates its market and must play by the rules. Its executives shouldn’t have to be embarrassed into doing the right thing by the filing of a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.”

The revision in terms came on the eve of July 4th holiday weekend as the social network giant began requiring all virtual goods sold through game applications to be bought with Facebook Credits. Until July 1, game developers could take payment for their games’ virtual goods directly using such methods as PayPal or credit cards.

Revised rule more competitive

The revised rule says, “You may not charge a logged-in Facebook user of your game app on Facebook a higher price in Credits for an item, virtual currency, or service than you would charge a logged-in Facebook user on another platform or service via another payment method.”

Thus, a developer now can offer price competition on other platforms as long as the player isn’t logged into Facebook.

“While this specific modification quells concerns about the effects of the Credits terms on other possible markets which may arise through the Facebook platform, we still need to remember that Facebook holds monopoly power in the market for virtual goods purchased in social games so it’s important to keep a close eye on its pricing terms in this market,” said Laura Antonini, Consumer Watchdog Research Attorney.

Read an analysis of the changes in the Facebook Credits terms.

Read the Facebook Credits terms revised on July 1.

Read the old terms

The virtual goods market is expected to produce revenue of $2.1 billion in 2011, up from $1.6 billion the previous year, Consumer Watchdog said. Facebook has 500 million users worldwide, with 30 percent of them in the United States, meaning roughly half of the U.S. population uses Facebook. The social network controls well over 50% of the market for virtual goods offered in social gaming, Consumer Watchdog said.

Even with the rule change, Facebook’s dominance of the market gives it unreasonable power over game developers. The social network will charge game developers a 30 percent fee when they redeem their Facebook Credits. While the rule blocking competition outside the Facebook platform has been eased, the service fee exacted by Facebook from game developers may make it cost prohibitive for smaller game developers to compete inside the Facebook platform against larger developers.

Read the June 28 complaint from the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group.

Consumer Watchdog warned that Facebook was creating its own online monetary system and could use exclusionary tactics similar to those from social gaming to control prices and exclude competitors from other markets.

Facebook is expected to offer streaming media, music, and potentially real-world, non-digital goods for purchase with Facebook Credits as the applications become more diverse on the social network.

GoDaddy goes for $2.25B; Zynga files for IPO, BLiNQ

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Go DaddyGo Daddy Group Inc., parent of domain registrar, has sold to private equity firms for $2.25 billion, the company said. The company sold to KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures.

GoDaddy is looking to exceed $1.1 billion in revenue this year. The company is known for its excellent company service. If you ever bought a domain name from GoDaddy, you likely got a call not long after from one of its service people. The company, based in Scottsdale, AZ, was founded by CEO Bob Parsons in 1997.

Some folks in the tech community have expressed concerns that the private equity buyers of the company will milk it for all its worth without regard to its tradition of selling domain names inexpensively with great service. We’ll see.

Zynga, Farmville-maker files for $1 billion IPO

San Francisco-based Zynga, the game maker that created Farmville and Mafia Wars, two of the most popular Facebook games, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of stock to raise at least $1 billion.

For a detailed infographic on Zynga’s path from founding to IPO see: Zynga infographic at

Zynga, founded four years ago, has users in 166 countries. About 230 million people play its games every month. The company has revenue of $597 million in 2010, up from $121 million in 2009. The profitable company earned $90.6 million in 2010.

It is the latest of the much ballyhooed Internet companies to seek public status following LinkedIn (Linkd) Corp. Analysts expect even greater interest in Zynga’s IPO and the amount of money it decides to raise may change as the level of that interest is better evaluated.

The company was founded by CEO Mark Pincus and has about 2,300 employees. The company’s shares recently sold for $15 each on secondary markets, which would value the firm at $12.6 billion.

The filing with the SEC reveals the company is investing in its own data centers to supplement its use of the Amazon cloud service, which allowed the company to grow fast without building infrastructure. Most Facebook game companies rely on Amazon’s cloud. VentureBeat says Zynga’s ability to design apps that take advantage of Amazon’s cloud is one reason for its success.

Despite the inevitable suggestions that the moonbeam valuations of Internet companies may signal another Internet bubble, many analysts point out that the difference is in the fact the today the Internet is more fully integrated into our public, personal and professional lives. These companies have substantial revenues, enormous numbers of users, and some, such as Zynga are even profitable.

Some analysts note, though, that their market values may still be quite overvalued.

BLiNQ names John Tawadros president, COO

BLiNQ Media, a global technology innovator in Facebook advertising and the only pure-play media and technology company worldwide with official access to the Facebook Ads API,  has hired former COO for top search-marketing firm iProspect John Tawadros as president and COO.

Prior to joining BLiNQ Media, Tawadros was the COO of iProspect. Over the course of ten years he helped build the company from a basement startup to the #1 search marketing firm in the world, acquired for $50MM in 2004.

While at iProspect, he built and ran a world-class client services team with a 90%+ client retention rate, a companywide training program and scalable business processes to drive efficiencies, communications, ROI and overall performance.

The client-facing, algorithmic and paid search, technology, training and innovation teams all reported to Tawadros. He also played a significant role in the integration of iProspect with Aegis and in the acquisition and integration of a Texas-based retail industry search firm.

“Social media is the new search,” said Tawadros. “Facebook, the biggest player in digital media, is now the home of innovation, and BLiNQ Media helps advertisers make the most of it. It’s an honor to join this creative, intelligent and hard-working team.”


News Corp. finally sells MySpace for $35

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

myspaceNews Corp. has sold the once dominating social network MySpace for $35 million, most of it in stock, the Associated Press reports. The price is a fraction of the $580 million the company paid for it in 2005.

Reports say the sale is to Specific Media, an online advertising network, and that News Corp. will retain a 5 percent stake.

Founded in 2003 by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, MySpace was particularly attractive to musicians marketing their wares and a place where people acquired friends, but Facebook, founded in 2004 quickly eroded its popularity, aided by popular apps and games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars.

We never did much with MySpace, which seemed largely geared to the younger generation, ourselves, but Facebook caught us in a matter of months after it went national, just as it did many other people. MySpace later copied the Facebook news feed idea and News Corp. attempted to reposition it as a music venue, but the social network continued to lose relevance.

Along with once high flying AOL, the MySpace story is a lesson in the volatile nature of the Internet. Adaptability is essential to any continuing success.

Zynga IPO filing expected soon at $15 to $20B valuation

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

ZyngaGame-maker Zynga is expected to file for an initial public offering of stock this week, possibly Wednesday, according to CNBC.

Zynga, already profitable, unlike some of the other digital media companies that have launched IPOs, such as Pandora, recently rasied $250 million at a $7 to $10 billion valuation, according to reports.

The company is expected to have a valuation of between 15 billion and 20 billion and will raise between $1.5 and $2 billion in its IPO, according to Kelly.

Zynga’s investors include Google, DST, Reid Hoffman, Tiger Global, Kevin Rose, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel, Foundry Group and IVP.

Among other games, Zynga makes Farmville and Mafia Wars, two of the most popular Facebook games.

Half of Americans playing social games daily, many like brand promo games

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

FarmVilleDo you play social games at work? You may not want to admit it yourself. But about half of Americans play social games for more than 30 minutes a day, 28 percent of them while at work, according to a new study from Saatchi & Saastchi S. More than a third (37 percent) said games are a preferred way of hearing about a new product, and 85 percent said they would be interested in playing for at least 30 minutes for the chance of winning a $100 cash prize.

The study, “Engagement Unleashed: Gamification for Business, Brands and Loyalty,” sought to identify perspectives, attitudes and key drivers to use games as a vehicle for engagement within the employee context and more broadly across the consumer landscape.

“Leaders are beginning to understand the enormous opportunities that games hold for businesses, brands and people. Games, challenges and the notion of weaving fun and play into the fabric of society is tantamount to a renaissance,” said Judah Schiller, CEO and co-founder of Saatchi S. “Well-designed games have the potential to create dynamic, rich and deeply enjoyable experiences that can foster innovation, reinforce positive behavior and increase engagement.”

According to study data, about half of online Americans are already playing social games during a typical day.  Of those employed, 28% of respondents are playing games more than 30 minutes a day while at work. When asked how they would like to hear about a new product, 44% of respondents preferred email communications and 37% would choose some kind of online game experience.  Only 3% wanted to be told about new products by TV or radio advertising.  Seventy-five percent of smartphone owners are interested in playing a clues-based challenge, and 85% would be interested in playing for at least 30 minutes for the chance of winning a $100 cash prize.

Other key findings include:

  • When it comes to specific kinds of social challenges, respondents were most interested in participating in multiplayer gaming and trivia challenges.  While not as many people are familiar with scavenger hunts and guessing/probability scenarios, they did express interest in participating in these kinds of challenges.
  • 27% of those interested in social challenges said they would be very likely to opt in to a social challenge sponsored by a large corporate brand; 64% very likely if it were initiated by friends or family.
  • ‘Discounts’ are the most compelling incentives for winning a social challenge, followed by ‘Social Action’ and ‘Points Towards Loyalty Program’.  Only 1-in-4 of those interested in social challenges said that ‘Status in the Community’ was a very compelling incentive.
  • Among those interested in social challenges, males and tablet owners are most likely to view these challenges as ways to connect with the local community and make new friends.
  • Heavy social gamers are more likely to be interested in clues-based challenges and are more aware of recent in-game ad campaigns from specific brands.
  • Green Giant scored high in positive sentiment following a Farmville campaign where players could earn cash to buy Green Giant products.
  • 58% said it is important for brands to be fun and playful.
  • Younger Americans (18-24 year olds) were the group most willing to take a salary reduction to work for a socially responsible company.

A summary of key findings from the study and graphs are available at

Offbeat file: Robot battles man in Angry Birds match, Farmville with real animals

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Angry BirdsShades of John Henry: a Finnish company that makes machine vision, camera systems and optical measurement technology chose an unusual way to promote their products: They pit a human player against a robot equipped with their technology playing the popular Angry Birds game. Who won?

Watch the video below.

Here’s a video on how they made the robot and the video:

Farmville with Real Animals

The website Onearth says some real farmers in the UK” are planning on turning their farm into a real world FarmVille (the popular game on Facebook).

Web users took over the “large working farm” Wednesday, according to the report.

People who join the MyFarm experiment, which requires a substantial fee, will make decisions such as which bull to purchase, which crops to plant, except for “cannabis or bananas,” says Richard Morris, manager of Wimpole Estate Farm in Cambridgeshire, UK.

The online participants will make decisions after discussions through votes.

Farmville is Facebook’s second most poplar game and has 47 million players each month.

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Gaming For Everyone: John Austin, Joystick Labs, the East Coast Game Conference

Monday, April 11th, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

It’s a little known fact that I developed my first video game in the 1980s.

I know. Shut up.

The source code is long gone – in fact, I believe the hardware and the language are long gone as well – but the game involved translating and then conjugating verbs in Spanish under top-secret orders from the mysterious and powerful Dr. Pedro (remember, this was the 1980s and you could get away with that kind of thing).

The kicker was if you conjugated too many verbs incorrectly, you would fail to stop the countdown of the accidental launch of both the US and Soviet Union’s entire nuclear arsenals.

Everyone you love, dead, and all because you forgot that the present indicative of saber (to know) is “yo sé.” It was a weird time in history, but everyone in my Spanish class got an A that semester.

Destrucción Mutua Asegurada

Like I said, this was a weird time, when video games were more about quarters and degenerates than mobile phones and sheep breeding.

When I look back on those days, I don’t get too nostalgic. Within the space of six months, I quickly figured out the looming social struggle of being the only kid from my grade in the “computer class.”

Not too long after that realization, I latched on to much cooler pursuits, like BMX bicycles for instance, and I ran away from the world of technology screaming “Thank God I got off this path that would most certainly lead me to a top-notch education, a stable and lucrative career, and the ability to wake up every day and enjoy what I do… PHEW!”

Back then, there was no support structure for someone who had an interest and passion for technology, let alone gaming. Gaming was the red-headed stepchild of corporate technology, something that required years of study (and social isolation), massive amounts of capital (and social rejection), and arcane knowledge (and social exclusion).

Back then there weren’t too many dudes like John Austin around.

Gaming for Everyone

John Austin

John Austin

John Austin heads up two initiatives that exist mostly to bring both the creation and the consumption of gaming to the masses. He is the co-founder and conference chair of the East Coast Game Conference (April 13th and 14th at the Raleigh Convention Center) which, among other inclusion-sparking practices, is using extra sponsorship revenue to lower registration costs and also offers a student track at an even lower cost.

He’s also the new Managing Director of Joystick Labs, RTP’s gaming incubator. Joystick, along with LaunchBox Digital and CED, anchors American Underground, the hub of entrepreneurial Durham. Joystick is currently accepting applications for their second semester, and anyone with an idea and the drive to get their game polished and built can apply.

Both the ECGC and Joystick offer copious opportunities for your average everyday kid to create the next Dr. Pedro’s Global Thermonuclear Verbs or even the next Angry Birds. But it’s not just everyday kids – it’s twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, and in fact it’s pretty much any-somethings.

Gaming is Not Cool, It’s Core

This will be my third (out of three) attendance at the ECGC. I’m not going because I want to build video games (I don’t). I’m not going because I’m a hardcore gamer (I’m not). Nor am I going because they’ll be handing out beta copies of Gears of War 3 (they won’t).

I’m going because we’ve reached the point in the history of video games when it has become more than apparent that gaming drives pretty much everything else in technology. And I’m not talking about Zynga and their over-ubiquitous presence in social networking.

What’s Your Game?

I’m actually talking about social networking (and everything else). The impetus of why you have a Facebook account and collect friends and publish status can be boiled down to the concepts of gaming. It’s fellowship, competition, and rank, and it’s this oddball sort of living the digitized and streamlined version of you while interacting in a digitized and streamlined manner with digitized and streamlined versions of your friends.

The insides of Facebook likely look a lot like the insides of Tron — 1982 Tron, not the recent forgivably cool one — and the discovery of this ugly secret would be a huge bringdown for 95 percent of Facebook users.

Let’s face it. Facebook is essentially a heavily disguised World of Warcraft.

So eat it, nerd.

But gaming is no longer a nerd’s world. And it’s a little more than coincidental that the only sector of gaming that’s really suffering is massively multiplayer online. According to Austin, it never really took off like it should have, and he agreed with my theory, smart-aleckly proven above, that these social networking games, and in fact social networking itself, has replaced MMO, but not so much the massive and not so much with elves.

Revenge of the Jock

The console, another step in bringing gaming to the masses, is not as dead as you might think, also according to Austin. Madden and the rest of the sports franchises brought in huge numbers of first-time gamers, who converted pretty quickly over to Halo, GTA, and Gears. These types of multi-million-dollar investments in the cutting edge of absorption, be it ridiculously life-like video or Kinect-style control, will always have it’s following.

Also, as the console becomes an entertainment hub with the addition of Netflix and ESPN3 and so on, it’ll maintain a place in the living room.

Small, Smaller, Smallest

Joystick LabsThe rest of gaming is going micro: 99-cent titles on your iPhone or Android, low-footprint social games like Farmville, games that require a tiny investment and, if done right, can provide huge returns.

This is where Joystick comes in.

While Joystick still believes and will hopefully incubate at least one console-style title, the focus is on the mobile and social gaming sector. The fact that these games require less overhead allows for the democratization of the creation, thus keeping the vibe of inclusion alive.

Further, what they come out with on the other side of the semester is more than just a handful of viable titles, they could stumble upon that next great turbo booster in technology itself. Like I said, gaming drives pretty much everything.

If you’re in the technology field and you’re not going to the ECGC, you should. Whether you’re a developer, a designer, an executive, or a student. Whether you’re designing 3D-graphics for mobile handsets or creating accrual algorithms for insurance software, there’s something to this stuff that everyone can use.

And you never know, you might get inspired by ECGC, apply to Joystick, and come out of the other side with the next mobile social farming masterpiece.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet ( He also owns startup consulting firm Intrepid Company ( and creative network Intrepid Media ( You need cred? Friday night he was playing a networked game of Quake II Action Mod with former co-workers on both coasts. There’s your damn cred. Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco.


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