Social Gaming News Roundup: Zynga, Ubisoft and Kixeye

Zynga Hit With Shares Scandal – The Wall Street Journal reports that Zynga is looking to re-distribute the amount of shares that have been given to employees by demanding some employees sign over shares they had previously been awarded. CNN later received a copy of an internal Zynga memo, which said “the story is based on hearsay” and affirmed that “being a meritocracy is one of [Zynga’s] core values.”

Ubisoft Earnings Call Overview – Earlier this week Ubisoft had its third quarter earnings call. CEO Yves Guillemot said the the developments in the social space had been “exciting” for the company, with its Facebook game The Smurfs & Co. outperforming expectations in terms of both sales and profitability. He also said while the company focuses on creative content, Ubisoft is using analytics to ensure the company has both famous brands and great content. For the next quarter Guillemot revealed the company is trying to capitalize on the Facebook fanbase of its Assassin’s Creed brand, potentially through a new companion game similar to Ghost Recon Commander. He also revealed that Germany is a star territory for the company, generating higher average revenue per user as compared to other regions.

Xbox Live Boosts Social Features – Online gaming service Xbox Live is revamping its web portal with a host of new features, designed to make playing games on the network more social. In a new Social section users will be able to set beacons on game they wish to play with their friends and view their friend’s activity streams to learn what their friends are currently playing.

Call of Duty Elite Social Network Struggles Under Load – While it may have been one of the most highly anticipated game launches of the year, Activision’s Call of Duty Elite social network wasn’t ready for how popular the game would be. In what has been a very bad week for the Activision, it was revealed that the service’s PC launch had been delayed due to to security concerns. Meanwhile many subscribers have not been able to connect with the service due to heavy demand. In response Activision is extending all subscriptions by one month.

U.S. Population of “Gamers” Doubles – Research firm Parks Associates has released a study indicating the number of people in the U.S. who play at least one hour of video games a month has doubled in three years, from 56 million in 2008 to 135 million in 2011. The firm credits the increase to “casual gamers” who play games on social networks and mobile devices.

U.S. Colleges Now in CityVille – The Collegiate Licensing Co. has signed a deal with Zynga to extend its suite of brands into CityVille digital goods. Players can now add college-themed clock towers, libraries, dorms and sport stadiums to their CityVille cities. So far the top selling schools are Alabama, Clemson, Boston College, East Carolina and Boise State.

Take-Two Raising Cash for Mobile or Social Acquisition – is reporting that publisher Take-Two Interactive issued $200 million in convertible senior notes this week, a move that industry analyst Michael Pachter thinks is a precursor to a major mobile or social gaming acquisition.

Winter is Coming… To Social Games –  USA Today is reporting that George R.R. Martin’s popular book and HBO TV series Game of Thrones series will soon be the subject of a console game, an MMO and a social game developed by German free-to-play giant BigPoint. Little is known about the social game so far.

Ubisoft: Slow Social Road is Better – In an interview with Gamasutra, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said his company’s social games strategy has been more cautious than those of competitors EA and Activision. According to Guillemot, while AAA titles can benefit immensely from what he calls a social “revolution,” Ubisoft doesn’t “buy a company or work with a company to create [sales], we actually work from within the company, so that all of the games can take advantage of this revolution within the industry.”