Social Gaming Roundup: Virtual Goods, iPad, Twilight, & More

iPhone 4 Gaming – The big addition to the gaming world for iPhone 4 is turning out to be the gyroscope. One of the most notable titles so far to make make use of the motion-sensing device is Ngmoco with Eliminate: GunRange, in which aiming is completely, and accurately, done by tilting and turning the device.

Free Social iDevice Games Show Their Worth – Though it doesn’t happen often, Apple’s Top Grossing App charts for both the iPad and iPhone have shown two social iDevice games within their top 20 this week. Ngmoco’s god-playing app GodFinger comes in at #11 and The Playforge’s Facebook Connected zombie farming game, Zombie Farm, appears at #17.

Ubisoft Cross PromotionUbisoft Begins Cross Promotion – Core game developer Ubisoft has moved deeper into social games by starting to cross-promote its Facebook titles. Currently, the company has only promoted the growing title Castle & Co, but it is starting to push its app, The Settlers.

Apple iAds Arrive, Sorta – According to an observation from iLounge.com, Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform is making its first appearances within iDevice applications. Developer Avantar has updated a number of its apps (Showtimes, Munch, Yellow Pages, etc.) with the platform, but as iAds does not go live until July 1st, they are filled with placeholder test ads.

Clan WarsSuper Rewards Monetizes MMO Title – Resistor Productions recently announced a partnership with Super Rewards to monetize its freemium massively multiplayer online title, Clan Wars. The browser-based MMO is the only one of its type to allow for real-time, two-player fighting scenarios and will be monetized through advertisements and in-game offers that will reward players with virtual currency, virtual goods, or in-game points.

Bing Integrates Social Games – Microsoft search engine Bing has incorporated ways for users to search for and play casual and social games natively, according to the Washington Post. Furthermore, certain games will allow you to sign into your Facebook account in order to access your friends’ game feeds, as well as share various achievements and/or scores.

Twilight GoodsCrowdstar Plays Off Twilight Eclipse Hype – Fans are going nuts over the coming Twilight Eclipse movie, and CrowdStar is taking advantage by launching some loosely related themed goods. Limited items include a Twilit Beach Forest complete with Vampire Bats, Werewolves in Zoo Paradise and Eclipse Series Buildings in Hello City, including “Eddie’s House.” This is the first set (at least in recent time) of limited and themed virtual goods we’ve seen centered around franchise hype, instead of a special event or holiday.

Zynga Trying to Expand in San Francisco – San Francisco’s office market is hurting, but social developer Zynga may help by picking up some extra real estate. SFGate.com notes that the company is looking for “anywhere from 150,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet of space.” Unfortunately, the source asked to stay anonymous, but Zynga was previously reported to be close to signing a 140,000 square foot lease last year.

Kia SoulKia Motors America Partners with Zynga – Kia Motors America is building upon its Kia Soul “This or That” ad campaign, which stars hamsters, by allowing PetVille users to to create shareable “mash-ups” of the ad. The app is found at the bottom of the PetVille game page and participants will receive PetVille Cash as a reward.

RealNetworks Layoffs Hits GameHouse Seattle Studio – In May, we profiled the release of RealNetworks’ GameHouse platform for social development. Now, according to Gamasutra, the company has “effectively shuttered the company’s first-party game division,” essentially bringing casual game development at the GameHouse studio in Seattle to a stand still. So far this week, RealNetworks has said it would eliminate 85 jobs.

FarmVille Database System Goes Open-Source – In other Zynga developments, the NoSQL database behind FarmVille was released to the public as a membase open-source project this week. Current contributors are Zynga, NorthScale, and NHN . They announced the project at Membase.org, under the Apache 2.0 license.

Piper JaffreyApp Store = 1% Gross Profits – Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster did some interesting number crunching regarding the profitability of Apple’s App Store, as covered by Fortune. Based on available data from Steve Jobs’ keynote a few weeks ago, $1 billion has been generated for developers since the App Store’s launch in 2008. Apple keeps 30 percent of revenue, so the total is roughly $1.4 billion. At an average selling price of $1.49 an app, the gross margin for the App Store is about 44 percent. That comes to $429 million since the App Store’s 2008 launch, or about 1 percent of profit annually.

[image via Piper Jaffray]

FIFA Superstars Makes World Cup Predictions – The game between England and Slovenia may have been rattling nerves, but according to Playfish, the game has already been simulated in their new Facebook app FIFA Superstars. Apparently England had already won 3-1.

Along with this, an interview by VentureBeat with EA CTO John Schappert states that the acquisition of Playfish has allowed the company’s social department to grow, whereas other competitors have fallen by about 25 percent. Schappert also said that more intellectual property and licensed franchises like FIFA are on the way.

Mobile Virtual Goods Could Be Worth $168M – Frank N. Magid Associates and social mobile platform OpenFeint released a new study this week which states that Americans spent an estimated $168 million on mobile virtual goods in the last year. Of the 70 million estimated Americans that own a smartphone, 45 percent play mobile games, while 16 percent of that group spend around $41 a year on mobile virtual-goods.