Social Gaming News Roundup: Sony, Playdom and DeNA

New Social Game Focused PlayStation Home Debuts – Sony has unveiled the new look for its proprietary gaming service PlayStation Home. Formerly a virtual social destination for PS3 owners, the service never quite captured the interest of the gaming community. The new version of Home switches the focus from social to social gaming, and now lets users explore an environment filled with quests, shopping and more than 230 games, some of which are free-to-play social games, supported by advertising and microtransactions.

Nexon America Q3 Revenues Up 29% – Nexon America is reporting its third quarter revenues were up 29% year-over-year, partially to the due to the success of its microtransaction business model. This is the ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue growth, according to the developer. In the last year, Nexon has entered the social games market with MapleStory Adventures and Zombie Misfits, as well as with investments in social game developers A Bit Lucky and 6waves Lolapps.

DeNA’s Baseball Team Won’t Sport Mobage Name – Andriasang is reporting that DeNA has reached an agreement to purchase the Yokohama BayStars. Unfortunately for the company, Nippon Professional Baseball, the organization that manages the league quashed DeNA’s plans to add Mobage branding to the name of the team.

Call of Duty Elite Features Deep Facebook Integration – Activision’s Call of Duty Elite, a multiplayer subscription service for first person shooter Call of Duty will integrate Facebook directly into the game, allowing players to log in with their Facebook profiles and play with their friends from the social network according to a developer video posted on Destructoid.

More Details Emerge for DeNA/Grasshopper Manufacture Partnership – In September we reported that Japanese developer Grasshopper Manufacture would be teaming with DeNA to create games for social and mobile networks. This week DeNA revealed that the two companies are forming a spin-off venture which will be tentatively called Grasshopper Social Network Service Inc. The new company will be headed by Grasshopper CEO and auteur designer Goichi “Suda 51” Suda.

Social Games Profitable for Konami – Japanese gaming giant Konami’s video game segment brought in 58.1 billion yen between April and September of this year, up five billion yen from the same period in 2010. The company was helped by a 12 billion yen increase in social game revenue from games on the Mobage and GREE networks. According to the company, it had 11.5 million registered users on social game networks in September, but only 2.5 million at the beginning of the year. Its latest social game, Frogger Pinball, is now live on Facebook.

Funzio is the Most Innovative Social Game Company – Crime City developer Funzio has been named to this year’s Dow Jones VentureWire FASTech 50, a list of the most investment worthy startups as selected by the VentureWire and a board of venture capitalists. Funzio was the only gaming company who made this year’s list.

Hilleman: HTML5 Will Need to Improve to Survive – EA’s creative director Richard Hilleman has revealed that HTML5’s performance issues have proven to be major hurdle for game developers. According to Gamasutra, who attended the presentation at the New Game Conference in San Francisco, Hilleman said it was difficult to predict how an app would run different hardware specifications, and that HTML5’s audio issues will need to be addressed. Hilleman encouraged the industry to set technical standards for the platform and improve how games using HTML5 are distributed and monetized if the platform is to ultimately be successful.

Playdom Files for Trademark on City of Warfare – Fusible has discovered that Playdom has filed four trademark applications for the name City of Warfare. At this point its unknown if City of Warfare is a new IP or if the trademarks are for rebranding City of Might, a Playdom game currently in closed beta.

Gameforge Laying off 100, Cancels Games – Gameforge is significantly realigning its business structure to better integrate with Frogster in a move that will see the company scrap at least two upcoming games and lay off 100 staff. Gameforge is eliminating its client based games and web games divisions and replacing them with development and publishing divisions. Gameforge and Frogster merged in August.

Beach Cooler Games Rises from Ashes of Blue Fang – Gamasutra is reporting the former CEO and lead designer of now defunct studio Blue Fang Games have formed Beach Cooler Games, a Boston based startup that will focus on the mobile and social markets. Blue Fang was best known for the Zoo Tycoon series and the Facebook games The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

Social Games Evolving Faster Than Any Other Entertainment Medium: Insomniac CEO – Insomniac Games’ CEO Ted Price has given a candid interview to Gamespot explaining why a AAA console developer is getting into the social games market with its new division Insomniac Click. According to Price, social games are an exciting new frontier that is  “evolving faster than any other entertainment medium in the past 50 years,” which makes it difficult for developers who are “trying to figure out exactly where we want to focus in terms of making our mark in social games, because… there is no right way to do it.” The full interview can be read here.

Zynga: Developing in HTML5 Painful, But Worth It – Zynga’s Paul Bakaus had some interesting comments to make about HTML5 at the New Game Conference in San Francisco. According to Gamasutra, Bakaus explained that the lack of gaming support in the emerging platform makes developing for the platform feel like the dark ages of gaming, but it offers great opportunities to make the web a better platform for games.

Twiitz Blends Real and Virtual Goods in Online Store –  Twiitz is hoping to crack into the online shopping market with a store exclusively targeted towards social gamers. Featured items in the online retailer’s store come with $15 dollars worth of Facebook credits, delivered via pre-paid cards included with the items.

TheBroth Hires Claritics to Improve Barn Buddy – Australian social game developer TheBroth is implementing social analytics make its flagship Facebook game Barn Buddy even more popular. The developer has selected Claritics, who make a line of cloud-based SaaS analytics apps that provide real-time information and feedback on engagement and monetization efforts. According to AppData, Barn buddy currently has 1.6 million MAU and 370,000 DAU.

[Launch] Tight Lines Fishing Brings Social Fishing to Facebook – Independent Austrian studio Socialspiel released its first Facebook game this week, social fishing game Tight Lines Fishing. The game challenges players to compete against their friends to catch the biggest fish. Socialspiel was formed in 2010 by former employees of Deep Silver and Rockstar Vienna.