Social Gaming Roundup: Saving the World, WoW in China, Mystery Fundings and More

GaikaiGaikai Raises $5 Million – Another startup, online gaming company Gaikai, has also raised funding. $5 million, to be exact; also according to an SEC filing. Headed up by former Acclaim chief creative officer, David Perry, the company has made no comment regarding the funding. All the same, VentureBeat has previously reported that Gaikai is “planning to create a service that can deliver games on demand without the need to install or run software on a computer or game machine.” Instead, games will be cloud-streaming.

Video Games May Save the World – Despite the common complaints about violence in video games, Time Magazine looks to some of the more positive elements of this growing medium. According to the article, the past decade has had many pivotal success with games educating the masses of real world issues with titles such as Darfus Is Dying from MTV in 2006. The goal was to help refugees find water, and it had reached over 700,000 players in one month, leading thousands more to email and petition government officials about the pressing issues. Along with games such as Food Force, Half the Sky, and the myriad of recent Zynga charity benefits in games, hundreds of thousands of people are being educated and moved with games which Alan Gershenfeld, former vice president of Activision, describes as “powerful tools.” Certainly, it is an article best read in full here.

MySpaceMySpace to Host devJam Event – A few weeks ago, MySpace announced the MySpace Developer Challenge. Well, now the social network is hosting the devJam event in San Francisco on January 14th in order to offer a place where developers can not only meet their development team but get started on their submissions. With multiple coding sessions for each of the contest’s categories and updates on all new MySpace APIs, the general hope is to help developers have Challenge-ready submissions by the end of the day. Further details and RSVP links can be found here.

WoW ChinaWorld of Warcraft China Punishment Coming Soon?  – According to a report from Pacific Epoch, the massively multiplayer online RPG, World of Warcraft is going to have a more settled fate. The game has been had trouble with the country’s competing regulators, China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) and Ministry of Culture (MoC) — however the game license-holder in China, Netease, has been operating it since September. The regulators have reached a “consensus over whether NetEase [Chinese operator of World of Warcraft] is operating… in contravention of regulations, and plan to announce punishment in mid-January.” Hopefully, for the estimated 5 or so million Chinese players, “punishment” will not mean more downtime.

Widget FactoryYoVille Widget Factory Returns – September of last year played host to Zynga’s removal of, what was called, the “Widget Factory” from its social, virtual world, YoVille. In its place came the new Sweets Factory, but as a primary source of virtual income in the game, the loss of the Widget Factory led to a long and arduous protest from some of the player base. 53,000 protesters joined the virtual cause, eventually coaxing Zynga into bringing back the Widget Factory for the holidays. However, whether or not it is back permanently is yet to be determined.

Quepasa Parnters with Moblyng – Latin social network Quepasa.com announced a partnership yesterday with developer and cross-platform games publisher Moblyng. Through the partnership, Moblyng will make use of Quepassa’s implementation of the OpenSocial framework to make a myriad of its games available for the site’s users as well as through mobile phones. Thus far, eight games have been agreed upon for use including m:Poker Live, m:Vampire, m:Mafia, m:Racing, m:Zombies, Dungeon Quest, WordRacer, and Narcotraficante.

Xbox Live Virtual ArcadeXbox Live to get Virtual World Game Room – This week, Microsoft announced that it would be further socializing its Xbox Live and Games For Windows Live services with a virtual Game Room. Comparable to Sony’s PlayStation Home (though you cannot walk around yourself), the game room will allow users to interact with each other using their Live avatars in a classic arcade setting. The games will be a range of classic game titles such as Centipede, Sea Battle, and Asteroids. However, the key difference from Home is that this new launch will not feature the sale of virtual goods, but the arcade machines themselves for roughly 240-400 Microsoft Points ($3-$5). Furthermore, for a one-time fee, 40 Microsoft Points can be spent to to play a machine they do not yet own.

The new features were also previewed at the CES as well, which displayed multiple rooms; each of which were customized in different themes (via Kotaku). Moreover, Xbox Live offers two-player score challenges and local, live multiplayer. The service is expected to launch with 30 or so games later this year, and will be expanded significantly over time with an expected 5-7 games per week.

Wacky DigiblesTOPPS Launches Virtual Card App on Facebook – UpperDeck isn’t the only card company making use of the web anymore as TOPPS has launched a new Facebook app called Wacky digibles that allows uses to buy virtual goods called “digibles” and send them to their friends. Currently there are 15 different goods that each sell for about $1 and are intended to be comical references to current popular media.

OpenFeint 2.4 Launches – Just today, Aurora Feint launched the 2.4 version of its social, OpenFeint platform. The new version comes with overall leaderboards, geo-location leaderboards, achievements, cloud storage for saved games, instant messaging, in-app forums, and more. Facebook Connect is also integrated allowing for photo imports and status updates. Other features include Twitter, social challenges, push notifications, cross-promotion, and social game recommendations.

Mystery Developer, DNA Games, Raises $2 Million – A developer by the name of DNA Games has been so under the radar that it doesn’t even have an official website yet. Nonetheless, paidContent.org reports that, via an SEC filing, the company has raised $2 million in funding with another million sometime back in early December. Unfortunately, all that is known beyond this is that DNA Games was founded by three former executives from Bazaar Advertising by the names of Jonathan Lee, Shaun Haase, and Timothy Stevens.