Social Gamers Aide Haiti: With the horrid earthquake that struck Haiti a few days ago, the island nation has been in dire need of help. But while international aide has been arriving throughout the week, it looks like everyday people that aren’t in the Red Cross are contributing as well. In light of their recent charitable causes, Zynga is offering “limited edition social goods” within its top games of FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Zynga Poker. All proceeds will go directly to helping out Haitian citizens in their time of need.
Items include “white corn that will not wither if left unatteneded for a week” (FarmVille), a “Haitian drum” (Mafia Wars), and “a special chip package” that will give the user a rare, premium item (Zynga Poker).[image via Kotaku]
Virtual Currencies Exchangeable for Real Money in Korea: Legalities on whether virtual goods and currencies can be dubbed “real” have been vague, at best, worldwide, but it’s apparent value has surfaced from time to time. Well, at least in South Korea, it no longer is: The nation’s supreme court has stated that virtual currency is, in fact, equal to real money. The case was based around the exchange of Lineage II‘s virtual currency, Adeena, for real money. This means, that the sale of virtual currency is being considered the same as a currency exchange and is completely legal within the country.
The full story can be found here.
MySpace Hires Sean Percival: In an attempt to grow more social and reinvigorate the network, MySpace has hired Sean Percival as their new Director of Content Socialization. Having been one of the social networks first 3,000 members, he has been a consultant to the company for some time and is author to the book MySpace Marketing: Creating a Social Network to Boom Your Business. Other merits to Percival’s resume include his blog Lalawag as well as experience from Mahalo, Docstoc, and Tsavo.
Farm Anthology Compiles the Sea of Farming Games: With the deluge of farming games in circulation around… well… everywhere (Facebook, iPhone, etc.), it can be tough to keep track of them all. A new website by the name of Farm Anthology has done most of the foot work for us. The site contains a pretty thorough collection of all of 2009’s farm titles as well as app links, screenshots, developer names, number of users, and how they are being monetized.
Gowalla API Coming Soon: According to TechCrunch, location-based social networking is taking off quite a bit with apps such as Foursquare averaging more than a check-in a second. Already, Foursquare has released an API for the technology (back in November), but now competitor Gowalla is looking to do the same. A post on their blog states that the first version of the API is “nearly complete” and that an official announcement will be coming in the “very near future.”
iVdopia Brings Social Ads to the iPhone: Video-based mobile ad network, iVdopia, focuses most on the iPhone for its advertisements, but according to co-founder Srikanth Kakani, “People don’t buy stuff yet on mobile. They do a lot more than before, but we think the best way to capture people via mobile advertising is to get them to perform smaller actions, like becoming fans of Facebook sites or tweeting on Twitter.” That’s right, in order to become both viral and social, the network is introducing Talk2Me ads to the iPhone that allow them to be shared via Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, users can respond to them using old fashioned calling, SMS, or email.
Bigpoint.com Surpasses 100M Registered Users: One of the world’s largest online game portal sites with social networking features, Bigpoint.com, has reached a new plateau this week, stating that it now has well over 100 million registered users worldwide with an exceptional portion of those numbers stemming from Germany. In fact, the site states that it grows by roughly 250,000 users a day. Having partnered with PlaySpan over half a year ago to bring in new monetization methods, such as the Ultimate Game Card, it is certainly doing well.
OpenFeint Releases iPhone App: For all those trying to find quality OpenFeint enabled iPhone games, the search just got a little bit easier. At the tail end of last week, Aurora Feint’s social platform for iPhone developers finally got an OpenFeint app in the app store that can search the list games using the platform as well as access all of your friends, challenges, achievements, and so on. The only comment we have is… what took you so long?!
Apple App Submissions Get Faster: 2009 got Apple a number of complaints about the speed of their app submission process from iPhone developers. Well, according to Tuaw.com the site to submit and check app sales, iTunes Connect was down between December 23 – 28, and apparently, developer emails to Apple have been quite happy since then. By the looks of things, improvements have been made to the submission process as apps are receiving notices of approval that are ranging from four days to less than 10 hours!
Asian Social Network Gree Finds New Success: Forbes has named Yoshikazu Tanaka, of Japan, Asia’s “youngest self-made billionaire.” His social networking site, Gree, has earned a whopping $1.6 billion, and the man is only 32. With stock having doubled since 2009, and $170 million worth of shares sold since December 2008, the envy of the region is currently ranked #18 among Japan’s 40 Richest. To top things off, Gree may be getting even bigger, having announced the new “Gree Connect” platform, which will launch in April, 2010.
Foursquare Goes to Harvard: Looks like location-based app developer Foursquare is going back to school as it has, this week, made a partnership with none other than Harvard University. Okay, not really going to school, but with the app, Harvard and Foursquare will help students to actually explore the campus, view notes from the school paper, and read a myriad of tips about various campus locations from a special Harvard-themed, Foursquare website.
Pirates Pillage Apple: According to 247wallst.com Apple’s booming App Store may not be as well off as it could be. Apparently, the company has lost over $450 million to piracy since the Store’s inception back in July, 2008. Of the 3 billion downloaded applications, an estimated 13% – 21% are paid apps leading to quarterly revenue between $60 and $110 million. Unfortunately, reports of pirated games and applications on the iPhone is well over 100,000 and growing rapidly.
GCREST Expands to North America: GCREST, an online entertainment company from Tokyo, Japan, opened its doors in San Francisco this Thursday. As the developer of the popular social MMO, TinierMe, the company is looking to expand its presence in America based on strong user demand, according to VP of Global Operations, Masuru Ohnogi. Currently, American teens represent over 50% of the player base behind TinierMe.