This Week In Social Games – July 12, 2010

weekThis week was particularly interesting as the social games industry matures and brands take notice. We kicked off with the brand Charmin developing a virtual ‘TP’ing’ application. Next we learned about Google’s potential investment in Zynga; the news of layoffs at Offerpal; hi5 raising 14M in funding; 7 features that should be present in social games; Zynga introducing branded crops in Farmville; Discovery Channel’s foray into social gaming; iwi’s SuperFun Town reaching 1M+ users; PopCap to bring Zuma to Facebook and lastly, a summary of 5 big brands venturing into social games.

Will Users Throw Virtual Toilet Paper at Friends with New Charmin Facebook Application?

Remember those commercials where a large white bear indiscriminately juggles toilet paper while an announcer extolls the virtues of the softer Charmin toilet paper brand? Well the marketing executives at Charmin have discovered Facebook, and they’ve gone ahead and released their first branded Facebook application “TP-A-Friend”. The model of the game is that of the super gift or poke applications from years past, and it seems like some brands are just behind the times when it comes to Facebook applications.

Game Changer: Google Secretly Invested $200 Million in Zynga

What are the implications of the world’s largest search and video provider – Google – putting a healthy investment into Zynga, the world’s largest social games maker? We’ll get a chance to find out in the coming months if the recently reported TechCrunch rumor that Google is about to invest up to $200 million into Zynga is true.

Offerpal Forced Into Layoffs After Being Overlooked By Facebook Credits

When Facebook recently chose TrialPay as their offer provider for Facebook Credits, they also chose to overlook other possible offer providers like Offerpal and Super Rewards. Decisions like that have big consequences for companies like Offerpal that derive a majority of their income from Facebook games that use or are switching to Facebook credits, and the hammer has come down at Offerpal as they today announced a series of layoffs directly affected by the Facebook decision.

hi5 Raises $14 Million in Venture Financing for Social Entertainment

hi5 announced today that they have raised $14 million in venture financing from Crosslink Capital. This is the 2nd round of financing for hi5 after their round of $20 million in July 2007. The new round of funding is meant to accelerate hi5’s expansion into social gaming and virtual goods. After their previous round of funding, hi5 made some big moves by introducing the hi5 Coins virtual currency, a virtual gifts store, the hi5 Games channel and most recently animated avatars. What will they be doing with this new round?

7 Features That Should Be In Every Social Game

To be known as a “social game”, games need to have a number of elements that encourage player engagement amongst friends. Players need to be able to interact with their real world friends in many ways: they want to compete, cooperate, show off to and taunt friends. To better understand the ‘social‘ in social games, we put together a list of the 7 elements that should be included in every social game.

FarmVille Adds First Branded Crop, Goes Organic

FarmVille players can now engage in organic farming both on and off their virtual fields. In the first move of its kind, FarmVille has partnered with Cascadian Farm to provide players with opportunities to enjoy Cascadian branded crops on their painstakingly plowed fields as well as in the grocery store. The many benefits that Cascadian Farm items will bring to FarmVille players will be available from July 19th to the 26th.

Discovery Channel Attempts To Ride Social Gaming Waves With Deadliest Catch on Facebook

Facebook is becoming an increasingly attractive arena for brands to engage consumers and some are looking to go beyond just offering quizzes through their Facebook fan pages. Discovery Communications is looking to get into the action with a new social game based on Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel’s highest-rated show that will be produced by branded game producer Hive Media. What other brands will see jump on the boat?

iwi’s SuperFun Town on Facebook Goes From 1000 to 1M Users In A Month

It seems the audience on Facebook can’t get enough of city building games. The latest addition to the plethora of town building games comes from iwi. The concept? To let players build the town of their dreams. Built on a 2.5D engine, SuperFun Town offers a lot of what we have seen in the past but with enticing new additions. The game is currently at 1.1 million users and seeing solid growth.

Bejewelled Creators PopCap Announce Zuma Blitz for Facebook

PopCap, creators of one of the most popular casual games of all time with Bejeweled, have announced they are bringing their secondmost popular game, Zuma, to Facebook. The game has sold 20 million units worldwide in its iPhone, casual and downloadable forms. The Mayan-themed game revolves around blasting small balls from the center pedestal at orbs that snake around the outside of the screen. The Facebook version will have leaderboards and other social features.

5 Big Brands That Are Using Facebook Games To Reach New Audiences

It came across my desk today that Discovery Channel was creating a Facebook game, and I thought I’d use the opportunity to look at how some big brands are using Facebook Games to promote products.   Some of these work, some of them don’t, but the key factor here is that they are all leveraging social gaming to reach out to their userbases, and in my opinion that type of interactive marketing that incentivizes the user with fun is a step in the right direction.