Social Gaming News Roundup: Google+, Car Town and Nordeus

First Person Social Games on the Way from New Studio U4iA – Former Activision vets Dusty Welch and Chris Archer have formed a new studio called U4iA that will focus on hardcore social games according to Gamasutra. The company has trademarked the term “first-person social” and is set to release its first game in 2012.

Gigamedia Reports Third Quarter Loss, Promises to Pivot into Mobile – Taiwan-based social game company Gigamedia reported this week that its third quarter revenues had dropped 12% quarter over quarter to $7.8 million dollars. The company also reported a loss of  $3.9 million dollars for the quarter. In a press release accompanying the results, CEO Yichin Lee said the company would change course, extending its platform to mobile devices.

Brazilian Social Gaming Market Growing Quickly – Research firm SuperData is predicting that the Brazilian social gaming market is will be worth $238 million by 2014. At that point more than 52 million Brazilians will play social games, up from the 35 million people who currently identify as social gamers.

Nordeus Best Social Gaming Startup of 2011 – Serbian social game company Nordeus has been named the best gaming startup of 2011 at the annual Europas Awards. The company won the award due to the strong performance of its football game, Top Eleven, which currently has over 3.3 million MAU, according to AppData. The Europas Awards are decided by a panel of industry experts.

Brands Flock to Google+ – Bright Edge is reporting that 61 of the world’s top 100 brands (well known household brands like Coke and McDonald’s) have set up Google+ brand pages since they’ve been available. However, according the company’s November Social Share report even the biggest brands had yet to attract a significant following on the brand new social network. According to a quick search of the social network, just 221 people have added Coca Cola to their circles.

Zynga and Best Buy Team to Offer Limited Edition FarmVille Toys – Just in time for Christmas, fans of FarmVille will be able to collect a series of 8 FarmVille plush toys. Each toy is $9.99, or $0.99 with the purchase of $25 Zynga gift card. The toys will be blind-boxed, but players who collect all 8 will be able to unlock a special in-game Super Orchard.

Car Town Teams with Nitto Tire for Yearlong Campaign – Cie Games has signed an agreement with Nitto Tire to embark on a year-long integrated advertising campaign in its Facebook game Car Town. The promotion will include in-game activities, contests, giveaways and virtual items. Car Town is no stranger to in game promotions, having previously signed deals with Walmart and Universal Pictures.

120 Million People a Week Playing Social Games according to PopCap Survey – PopCap has funded a study conducted by Informations Solutions Group that has found the number of people playing social games has grown extensively. According to the study than 81 million people play social games at least once a day and 120 million people play social games once a week. The whole study can be found here.

Google+: Rumors of My Demise are Greatly Exaggerated – Online analytics service Experian Hitwise is reporting that Google+ traffic continues to grow, with the site receiving 6.8 million US visits between November 5th and 12th, 5% more than it received the week before. 74% of those hits were from returning visitors.

Shanda Games Reports Record Quarterly Revenues, Sees MAU Drop – Chinese free-to-play MMO publisher Shanda Games released third quarter results that showed the company posted revenues of $212.9 million, a 23.4% increase year on year,  but had lost 3 million MAU between the second and third quarters.

GaiaX Expands With Philippines Based Subsidiary – GaiaX, a Japanese company that provides social media monitoring and social app support services for a variety of companies, including DeNA’s Mobage network, is expanding, launching a new multi-language subsidiary that will be based in the Philippines. The subsidiary will be called GaiaX Asia Corporation.

Live Gamer Raises $8.5 Million – Online virtual goods marketplace Live Gamer has raised an additional $8.5 million in funding from a mixed securities offering.  The company, which bills itself as a combined e-commerce and advertising platform has raised more than $35 million so far.

Mobile, Social Gaming Cutting into Handheld, But Not Console Dollars – According to a new survey from the Cowen Group, only six percent of self identified “gamers” reported spending less on traditional console games because of time spent playing mobile and social games. However, out of people who identified themselves as “casual gamers” 29% of them reported being less likely to use a dedicated handheld system like Sony’s PSP or Nintendo’s 3DS.

Will Wright Has a HiveMind – Sims creator Will Wright is launching a new game and company, both called HiveMind according to an exclusive interview on Venturebeat. HiveMind’s products will be based around collecting information and then customizing the game for its player, rather than the typical model, which sees the player adapt to the game’s rules. While Wright was low on specifics, he did reveal that the company’s products could be staged on either mobile devices or Facebook.

Warren Spector on Social, Mobile Games – In an interview with IndustryGamers, Deus Ex creator and games industry veteran and Warren Spector has revealed a mixed attitude to mobile and social games. Spector was quoted as saying: “Selfishly, I look at social and mobile games and think, “Didn’t I just spend 20+ years of my life trying to get away from graphics and gameplay models like this?” It seems inevitable that social and mobile will be a big part of our gaming future, that’s for sure.”

[Launch] A&E Brings Storage Wars to Facebook as Social Game – A&E’s hit reality TV show Storage Wars is now a social game on Facebook. Players in the game compete with one another to bid on storage locker auctions, just like in the TV show. The release of the game coincides with the debut of the new season of the show.

[Launch] Dungeon Overlord Makes Official Debut – Night Owl Games’ Facebook MMO Dungeon Overlord has gone out of beta with 80,000 MAU, according to Appdata. At the end of October we reported that The9 Korea had acquired the exclusive Korean operating rights for the game.