FarmVille Wins Major Award – In only a few years, social games have changed the video game industry as a whole. However, now that change has been officially recognized as this past week hosted the Interactive Achievement Awards in Las Vegas. At the event, the first-ever award for excellence in social gaming was given out by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. The winner was Zynga‘s ever popular FarmVille who was granted the title of social game of the year. Currently, the social game has over 80 million monthly active users.
Vegas, the Dating Market, and Making Serious Business a Success — Siqi Chen talks about founding and growing his social gaming company, coming up with the idea behind its formative social game, “Friends for Sale,” moving to Silicon Valley, and much more in this in-depth interview with Kim Ngo of Intimate Math. Chen’s company sold to Zynga for an undisclosed amount in a deal announced last week — his story includes a lot of good advice for entrepreneurs building Facebook games. Check out the video below for more:
World of Warcraft Partially Resumes in China – Having been in censorship battles for over a year, NetEase has obtained a license to operate World of Warcraft in China; the last expansion, anyway. While The Burning Crusade is now reactivated in the country, word on the most recent expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, has yet to be heard.
Pandaren Pet Sales Raise $1.1 Million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation – In other Warcraft related news, Blizzard’s first major use of virtual goods, a pair of digital pets for World of Warcraft, raised a nice bit of money for a good cause. Of the two pets, the Pandaren Monk, had 50% of its sales donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation between November and December of last year. The benevolent little critter’s sales led to a donation of over $1.1 million to the charity.
Apple Gets Strict on Sexual Content – While sex does sell, it would seem like it’s going to sell a little bit less often in the App Store. According to reports from TechCrunch earlier this week, a number of sexually oriented applications have been removed from iTunes completely. Based on an email to Jon Atherton, the developer of Wobble iBoobs, his app (and, likely, many others) was removed due to “overtly sexual content.” Oddly enough, some similar apps, such as Sexy Girls Uncovered, still work, leaving the that “overtly sexual” line a bit obscure.
Rixty Announces 13 & Under Payment Service – Payment service provider Rixty says it can now safely and anonymously provide payment services for children under the age of 13. In adherence to the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) and with the help of Coinstar, Rixty users under 13 can sign up without having to give out any personally identifiable information. All that is required is a username, password, birth date, gender, zip code, and a parent’s email address. Upon the latter’s entering, the parent will receive immediate notification with the options to delete the account or to be notified whenever the child tries to make a purchase.
Ultimate Game Card Expands – Popular prepaid card, the Ultimate Game Card (UGC), from PlaySpan is expanding. Earlier in the week, the card was made available in the regions of Taiwan, South Africa, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. With the expansion, the UGC is now available in over 70,000 retail locations around the world and can be used to purchase virtual goods and premium services in over 300 online games, and over 700 social, Facebook and MySpace games.
Topps Forgives Mom With One Major League Virtual Good (But Don’t Keep This One Virtual) – With the slogan, “We’re giving you back the cards your mom threw out,” trading card company Topps announced its Million Card Giveaway. For every sixth pack of Topps trading cards, there will be special cards with a nine-digit code redeemable at toppsmillion.com. The digital code will then reveal either an ordinary card from last year, or a vintage 1952 card that can be delivered, kept in online Topps accounts to trade, or used in sweepstakes.
Of course, of all the possible cards to get, the company states there are at least three Mickey Mantle rookie cards up for grabs.
Android Gets Flash Support – The Android has, unfortunately, taken a back seat to the iPhone in times past; especially in the realm of gaming. However, expect some changes in the future in how developers create their mobile Android games and apps as Adobe officially announced at the Mobile World Congress that both Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR are now supported on Android.
Richard Garriot Launches Portalarium – Creator of the Ultima game series, game designer Richard Garriot has launched a new social games company by the name of Portalarium. By the looks of things, the company will be creating a social games platform that will support games of higher quality than the current Flash standard and will make use of a plugin called the “Portalarium Player.” Already, the company is getting under way with the development of a social suite of casino games, starting with Sweet @$! Poker.
Gas Powered Games Gives Behind-the-Scenes Looks – Game designer Chris Taylor announced the latest game coming out of studio Gas Powered Games this week. The new real time strategy game will be dubbed Kings and Castles will be coming out on the PC and “next-gen consoles,” but the real treat for fans is that Taylor will be making use of kingsandcastles.com, Twitter @DeathBot9, and Facebook let show the development of the title until its release.