Phosphor Games Studio’s last creation, Dark Meadow, received high praise for its haunting atmosphere and attention to detail. Now, they’ve announced a partnership with social gaming juggernaut Zynga to help release their newest title, Horn. The game appears to continue their tradition of intricate world-building and Infinity Blade-inspired action while moving in a more fantastical, almost Shadow of the Colossus styled, direction. However it ultimately turns out, this adventure at least looks promising.
Horn puts players in control of a young blacksmith’s apprentice named Horn in a story based on the Old English tales of King Horn. Using his sword, crossbow, and, of course, his horn, players must lead Horn in a quest to undo a curse that has transformed his fellow villagers into bizarre monsters. Every action from combat to puzzle solving makes use of the game’s touch gesture system. Horn features three distinct open-worlds to explore and nine game levels making for a campaign about 10 hours long.
We also know that Horn’s score comes courtesy of Austin Wintory, the award winning composer behind PlayStation indie darling thatgamecompany’s flOw and Journey. Unfortunately, we do not yet know Horn’s price or release date. Expect more news soon though.
It’s a tiny bit depressing that many of us here are older than Atari. Still as OG’s (original geeks) most of us equate the name with our and their glory years of gaming. Recently the former giant has been reinventing itself, having previously released their VCS catalog and a few arcade hits in a Greatest Hits package for iOS, and with more recent forays into the App Store like CircusAtari and Centipedes Origins. They are also winding up a contest for indie developers who took their original, maybe the original video game, PONG and remade it for iOS. The finalists have been announced and can be found here. The company turns 40 today and much of the recent flurry of activity is to celebrate the occasion.
The company was founded back in 1972 with PONG making their presense known to a new generation. Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Dig Dug,Paper Boy and dozens of other arcade games became quarter-gobblers through the 70’s and 80’s, while the Atari 2600 defined the home console market.
The company is using the big day to announce a new partnership with Zynga to make mobile titles, freemium games we presume. That’s a dubious partnership, but one that should be interesting to follow. They are also holding a big giveaway, “40 Giveaways in 4 Days” which is open to US residents only, with details on Atari’s Facebook page.
We wish Atari many happy returns of the day, and look forward to a new generation getting to know them on iOS. Check out the nostalgic trailer and peek in the gallery to see a cool infographic on Atari’s history.
The social gaming giant, Zynga, just released the next app in their casino gaming line on Friday, Zynga Slots. With little marketing at all, the game rose in the free iPhone game rankings from #105 (Sunday) to #6 (Monday night). BTIG Media‘s Rich Greenfield, an analyst for the company, made some interesting observations on Zynga’s casino gaming line and what it may do to their valuation.
Greenfield observed they incredible and lasting success of Zynga Poker. The game was released in 2007 and continues to be the #7 top grossing app on iOS and accounted for 16% of Zynga’s revenue in Q1. He see slots as another easily monetized game and notes how Zynga competitors are already fairing in that space,
“Both the monetization and staying power of poker is intuitive. For slots games, it is a little less intuitive. However, Zynga competitors have been very successful in the space – illustrating the addictive nature of the game.”
Greenfield also noted that the demographic Zynga is going after with a slots game is a demographic it knows well – women over 35. For Farmville, two-thirds of its player base are women and 50% of those players are over 35. Slotomania, a slots competitor, has similar numbers (two-thirds women and two-thirds over 35).
BTIG Media and Entertainment Research believes that there’s option value in Zynga right now in terms of the legalization of online gambling,
“We continue to believe that there is significant option value in Zynga for the legalization of online gambling, which is not reflected in ZNGA shares…We believe there will be gambling potential on nearly all of Zynga’s games. However, the most immediate traction will be in traditional casinos games.”
Connectrode is made by Shay Pierce, who at one time found himself working for OMGPOP, creators of Draw Something. He became famous for being the only employee of OMGPOP to not be part of Zynga’s buyout offer, because he would have lost control over Connectrode by joining Zynga, and for having blogged about doing so. According to Shay Pierce, the game actually saw a sizable sales increase because of it, selling “in the low thousands” after the blog post was published.
So, this Connectrode update is a thank you to the people who bought the game and supported him along the way. There’s a new endless game mode, Push Mode, that has new pieces come up from the bottom every 3 pieces or so. Connectrode is now universal, with support for the iPad Retina Display. Finally, the colors of all the pieces can be customized in order for colorblind people to enjoy the game. The free update is available now.
Not too long ago, Zombie Smash developer Game Doctors was acquired by Zynga. Their next game, merging of Zombie Smash with the Zynga casual game machine, the Zyngification if you will, has been announced, Zombie Swipeout.
The good news? It’s an interesting game. In our few minutes with it earlier this week, it seemed very enjoyable. It borrows heavily from Fruit Ninja yet makes a few interesting twists on the swipe-things-thrown-into-the-air genre. Then there’s the aforementioned Zyngification of the game. You earn coins while playing the game to buy upgrades and progress in the game, yet your progress is limited by your energy level. All of that can, of course, be bypassed by buying in-game goods with cold hard cash.
Wether the game suffers from this paywall method is yet to be seen. Game developers are good, how much and how often you can play are dynamic — so they can change it at any time. Their goal, of course, is to tune it to maximize revenue. To do that, they need to make sure they don’t annoy too many players.
Off my soap box for a bit, the game is actually very well done and I look forward to spending too much time playing it. Unfortunately it’s only out in Canada for another week or so for some final testing. But it will be hitting the rest of the world soon enough. Keep an eye out for it.
Insanely popular and recently Zynga-purchased game, Draw Something, has updated with many features that fans have been asking for since the app released back in February. Features to get excited about include Say Something!, Share Something!, and Save Something!
Say Something! allows players to comment on each other drawings. This adds a sort of chat system to the game that lets players tell them what they thought of each others drawings. Share Something! lets players share their favorite drawing to Facebook and Twitter for their friends’ amusement. Right after a drawing is finished, a Facebook and Twitter button becomes readily available for users to press and instantly share with their friends.
And Save Something!, probably the most desired feature from people I’ve talked to, gives users the ability to save drawings to the iOS device’s camera roll. In the same screen that displays the social networking sharing buttons, a save to device button is presented. It’s an easy way to save those special drawings players spent their valuable minutes on. Sharing options from the camera roll then become limitless.
Other features include Undo Something! and Refresh Something!, adding the ability to undo the last line and refresh game updates by pulling the list down. More updates are sure to come soon.
Social gaming giant, Zynga, has purchased app developer OMGPOP, creators of recent success story, Draw Something.
During today’s conference call, Zynga commented that they would not be announcing the financial information about the acquisition today. But according to sources for AllThingsD, Zynga paid $180 million for OMGPOP with about $30 million more in employee-retention payments.
OMGPOP is a 40 person company based in New York City. Their recent hit, Draw Something, produces more than 1 billion user-created drawings per week. Both paid and free versions of Draw Something are currently #1 on the App Store charts.
New features in future updates were brought up during the conference call today. CEO of OMGPOP, Dan Porter, responded with some possible features including saving drawings to the camera roll, chat, and other gameplay features. He also commented that despite being purchased by Zynga, they are not changing the name of the game to Drawing with Friends.
It’s possible that OMGPOP made a real mistake by selling so early. Apparently, Draw Something generates $250,000 a day in revenue. If the price of the sale is accurate, it’s quite possible that Draw Something could have generated even more revenue than the $200 million sale price.
Henry Blodget from Business Insider makes a great point. It took AOL about 9 years to hit 1 million users, Facebook 9 months, and it only took Draw Something about 9 days. Draw Something now has over 12 millions active users on a daily basis.
Dream Heights, the new freemium game from Zynga that looks an awful lot like Tiny Tower, has officially been launched on the US App Store. And, proving that gamers have long and vengeful memories, the title has promptly been slammed with a whole mess of One Star reviews. Choice morsels include “Blatant copy of Tiny Tower mechanics /w a Zynga art dept. skin. But I have to say, the way Zynga innovated with regards to being stingy with in app currency is nothing short of ground breaking,” and “Wow, not a Tiny Tower ripoff. Not at all. Completely different in every way.” As of right now the game has received 311 One Star ratings, but that number has been largely overwhelmed by the 1263 Five Star ratings it’s also seen.
Zynga has been accused of shady business practices in the past, but this time around the community seems to be taking particular offense. Part of the controversy stems from the fact that Zynga attempted to buy outTiny Tower developer Nimblebit at one point, but was refused. Thus, many are taking the launch of Dream Heights as a slap in the face to the smaller company. Still, it seems the rage has all but abated, and it appears Zynga may weather the fury of the Internet and come away largely unscathed. The game is currently averaging a Four Star overall review score, and the average iOS social gamer is probably largely unaware of the controversy. We’ll wait a bit and see if there’s any long-term effects, but for now it seems that Zynga’s future (and stock price) remains mostly unaffected.
Zynga has launched the latest in their series of Games with Friends. Following their adaptations of Scrabble and Hangman, their latest is Scramble with Friends, their take on Boggle. How this works in a multiplayer context is that players take turns with 2 minute sessions on a 4-by-4 grid of letters, trying to form words from tiles that are adjacent or diagonal from each other. Each letter is worth a certain amount, with extra points given for word length. As well, later rounds introduce special bonus tiles. The player with the highest combined score after 3 rounds wins the match. Similar to other Zynga Games with Friends titles, the game comes in free ad-supported and paid ad-free flavors, and has a token system for using powerups such as hints, and a board rotator. Tokens are required in order to play some moves, with free “bonus tokens” that the game hands out. Naturally, tokens can be bought through in-app purchases as well. Scramble with Friends, Apple’s Game of the Week in the US, is available now.
Zynga has a lot going on right now, especially with its IPO hitting the main stage on Friday. To give potential stockholders another reason to buy is the company’s latest installment, ForestVille for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Available for download on the App Store, the game positions the player in a magical forest where they can build, doctorate and play with an ensemble of animal characters including such cute little furry friends as Daisy the fox.
Pegged as the weekend escape for CityVille urbanites, ForestVille is sure to provide an unforgettable weekend escape of exploring a lust forest where players can enlist the help of beavers to enhance their new outdoor community. As must Zynga titles, this one allows the player to design their own forest with homes, landmarks and decorations all while enjoying the liveliness it brings to the area. Skewed heavily towards the cute side of gaming, the game is one of the seven launches this quarter for Zynga, including Words with Friends HTML5, Zynga Poker Mobile Web, FarmVille Express, Mafia Wars Shakedown, Dream Zoo and CityVille Holidaytown.
Wait for one new Zynga game and two come bouncing along, just like a cuddly animal would. Note the tenuous link? Yup, Zynga’s new title is all about taking care of exotic and zany animals in a zoo.
Dream Zoo is another first for Zynga. Their first zoo themed game to be exact, presumably ensuring that casual gamers with all types of interests will be hooked by at least one Zynga game at some time. Interestingly, it’s also the first Zynga title to offer bonuses and in-game rewards based upon playing in multiple different locations.
Players are given the opportunity to breed and collect thousands of different animal varieties in a way that’s bound to hook ‘gotta catch em all’ style addicts. A selection of mini-games give the player the chance to pet and tend to their animals with feeding and washing games simple yet fun to play.
All manners of animals are catered for from aardvarks to zebras. Going on safari enables players to discover these different species while also having plenty of fun along the way! Players can even breed different animals together to create all new and unique types of creatures. Along the way, players can also collect up other items on safari, thus boosting their zoo’s looks or finances. Once everything is arranged just how the player wants it, they can take photos of their animals to show off to others.
We all know and love what Zynga has to offer the freemium gaming world and it looks like the magic has transferred to the world of zoo keeping in Dream Zoo. Like other Zynga titles, it’s a free app with plenty of in-app purchase based options. Fortunately, it’s not essential to progression, it just speeds things up a little.
For those looking for a new free to play fix, Dream Zoo is out now.
Thanksgiving has only just passed yet already we’re looking to the future; Christmas, to be exact. It’s only a month until Santa hops down everyone’s chimneys and we revel in a day of present exchanging and eating huge quantities of food.
The season also brings with it a good dose of Christmas-themed gaming delights. One such game is that of Zynga’s CityVille Holidaytown, the company’s first Christmas-themed app.
I was quite a fan of CityVille Hometown when I looked at it in the summer. While deeply seated in freemium elements that actively encouraged in-app purchases, it offered a solid structure of fun ensuring that players felt like they were constantly achieving things.
CityVille Holidaytown looks set to offer a similar experience but with one crucial difference: everything is in order to save Christmas! Players must help Santa rebuild the North Pole after a terrible blizzard. Enticing elves back home is vital in order to rebuild workshops and make more toys for the children of the world. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways to do that.
A steady supply of objectives pop up as the player grows their economy by building new workshops and harvesting magical winter crops to use. Plenty of cute Christmas themed decorations can also be placed around the area. Players can also help their Facebook friends by visiting their towns.
It’s a cute idea and no doubt one that’s bound to entice families and children alike. Further incentive comes from the special prizes that can be earned each day, plus CityVille Hometown players get an added bonus. It should all keep players entertained in the run up to the big event.
To get into the Christmas spirit, why not download CityVille Holidaytown now? It’s a free and universal game with plenty of in-app purchases available, but none vital to progression.
We’ve seen partnerships between artists and apps before, but this one is news-making in its sheer scope. Lady Gaga has recently announced a partnership with Zynga to promote her new album, Born This Way, across a number of their games, including two of its biggest hits, Words With Friends and Farmville. Thought you could escape the pop idol? Sorry, she’ll be lurking in your virtual field now, too!
The promotion starts on May 17th. Farmville players will be able to visit “GagaVille,” a new, uniquely designed neighboring farm sporting unicorns and crystals, among other things. GagaVille will allow “little monsters” (as Gaga dubs her fans) worldwide to listen to unreleased tracks from the new album. And players who buy a $25 Zynga game card from Best Buy will also be treated to a free download of the new album.
Meanwhile, Words With Friends will feature a daily “Words with Gaga” contest, which will award real-life Gaga-themed prizes, ranging from concert tickets to a signed copy of “Born This Way. ” The contests have yet to be announced, but as an example Zynga says that players who play a special word (“UNICORN,” perhaps) might be entered in a sweepstakes. Finally, special edition virtual items will also be available across other Zynga games.
“I want to celebrate and share ‘Born This Way’ with my little monsters in a special way that’s never been done before,” said Lady Gaga in a statement on Zynga’s website. “Zynga has created a magical place in FarmVille where my fans can come play, and be the first to listen to the album.”
“We’re focused on creating cool new ways to entertain and surprise our players,” said Owen Van Natta, Zynga’s executive vice president of business. “Our partnership with Lady Gaga offers many new experiences…We want to thank Lady Gaga for working with us on this truly great surprise.”
This isn’t the first time that Lady Gaga and Zynga have teamed up, however. In March, the two combined their efforts to raise over $3 million for Japan relief. Whether or not this new venture will produce similar results (albeit this time profit) remains to be seen, but I suspect that “GagaVille” will be quite the hit. At the very least, Gaga fans should find a lot here to enjoy. For more information on this newest Gaga/Zynga promotion blitz, check out the website dedicated to the event.
Drop7 has been re-released by social gaming juggernaut Zynga, who purchased Drop7 developer Area/Code earlier this year and renamed them Zynga New York. The game has not undergone any major changes in this re-release besides graphical updates for Retina Display devices and the iPad. The game was universal before, but now looks a lot better on the iPad. The game has also been released as an ad-supported free version and a new paid version for $2.99 (which was free during the launch weekend). Apple doesn’t allow for apps to change publishers after they are released (unlike on the Android Market, where their version of Drop7 is now published by Zynga), but Zynga has a fair deal for previous Drop7 owners. The original Drop7 app got an update recently that prompts users to download the free version – by downloading the app through this link, the free version has its ads disabled. Given their limited options, this seems like the best possible move from Zynga to support their customers.
Facebook developers are taking over the world. There, I said it. With developers like Zynga recently getting valued at over ten billion dollars, and numerous others rapidly building and expanding on their stable of social friendly games, it was only a matter of time before we started to see the growth bleed over to the iOS. One such developer looking to make further inroads on Apple’s baby is Booyah, the team behind the immensely successful MyTown.
Booyah’s next foray is actually an attempt to build on an audience that they have developed in their Facebook franchise, Nightclub City. Instead of invading the platform with their existing game, they have decided to just use Nightclub City as a backdrop for a new and interesting game genre: Rhythm-based Role Playing Games. I know it sounds kind of farfetched, but the upcoming Nightclub City DJ Rivals will attempt to turn this unholy hybrid into a reality.
Playing as a newcomer to the DJ battling scene, you will get the chance to face off against some of the biggest names in Nightclub City’s apparently budding underground. As you succeed in sticking it to the man as much as musically possible, your notoriety will grow, eventually making you one of the biggest names in the city. This is just the beginning, however, as there is an well flushed out multiplayer system that will also encourage you to show off superior scratching skills to win perks, unlock items, and even leave an impact across the city.
Keep an eye out for more details on the game, which is scheduled to launch in the March/April window of this year. Until then, check out this trailer below and see if it makes you want to indulge your inner spinster.
In the least clever pun we could think of Zynga has got themselves a new toy by announcing today that they have acquired Newtoy Studios. Newtoy is most famous for producing Words with Friends, Chess with Friends, and We Rule for ngmoco:). While Zynga is of course the company which brought us Farmville. Newtoy has been rebranded Zynga with Friends and will continue working out of their Texas-based headquarters.
The new entity will also retain the same management, with Newtoy CEO and co-founder Paul Bettner assuming the role of VP and GM of the Zynga With Friends studio. “We’re reinventing the way people are social on their mobile devices,” Bettner. “The Zynga With Friends studio will build on the Newtoy legacy of creating approachable, highly social games that are accessible to anyone from anywhere.” His brother and co-founder, David will be working as studio director, and Michael Chow will continue his role as director of operations. So it would seem that the day-to-day work around the office will remain pretty much in place and all the familiar faces will stay in place, all that’s changing is the sign on the door. That’s all probably for the best, as there’s no reason to mess up a good thing.
So what is Zynga planning to do with the new Zynga with Friends studio? No specific plans were set but Mark Pincus, founder and CEO said, “The Games With Friends franchise is the best social game experience available on mobile today and we are excited to welcome the Newtoy team to the Zynga family. The Zynga With Friends Studio will continue to invent great mobile social game experiences for Zynga users everywhere.”
Of course we’ll keep you posted of any news coming out of the Zynga with Friends studio, but for now we’ll just say congrats to both companies and best of luck.
The social farming genre has been dominated as of late by ngmoco:) and their trilogy of “We” games (We Farm, WeRule, WeCity), but the genre leader Zynga isn’t conceding the iOS wars. Today, Zynga launched the iPad version of their international super hit, Farmville that is entirely cross compatible with their iPhone and Facebook versions. Now you can start a farm in the morning, tend to it while sitting in traffic, and watch it grow at work… all without missing a beat! (Warning: Don’t drive and play Farmville.)
“We want to reach people wherever they want to play the games they love, and deliver the most fun and social experience on every platform,” said Steven Chiang, president of studios, Zynga. “The iPad is a spectacular gaming device, and the new FarmVille app leverages its larger touch screen interface and enhanced graphics. FarmVille on the iPhone was an instant hit and now we are giving people another Apple device to play on.”
According to Zynga, the iPhone version has been a huge success since its launch. It spent more than 50 days in the top 25 and is played in 85 countries around the world. They also estimate that over 60 million people play Farmville on all of its different platforms, accounting for 1% of the global population.
Is it slightly disgusting to think that 1 out of every 100 people around the world plays Farmville? Absolutely, but it does show the huge growth potential of the casual gaming industry. If 60 million people will tend to a farm every day, who’s to say that 70 million people wouldn’t do something a bit more entertaining?
Anyways, be sure to pick up the iPad compatible version of Farville today for the cool price of free. It may suck all of your time away, but you’re not one of those folks who thinks that time is money, right?
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted June 29th, 2010 by Brian Hudson Our Rating: :: FAITHFUL TRANSLATION
Farmville finally makes it to the iPhone. This app is exactly the sort of tool Farmville fans need to keep tending their virtual plots while on the go. If you're not into Farmville on Facebook, however, you can give this app a pass.
Sling Media has added support for Chromecast through their Slingplayer app for iPhone and iPad. Chromecast allows you to send content to your TV straight from your mobile device, and Slingplayer lets you turn that around and watch TV on your mobile device. With the two combined you can use the Slingplayer as a remote control for […]