This Week In Social Games – March 13, 2010

-Weekly Recap Icon-This week’s social gaming news included Namco and Konami entering social gaming with Pacman and Frogger, Raj covering a special report on emotions in social games at GDC 2010, OfferPal releasing a report indicating that 30% of gamers can’t afford virtual currency, MySpace and hi5 announcing a big shift to games, and Digital Chocolate releasing NanoTowns and Sony releasing their classic PoxNora on Facebook. Read on for more!

Casual vs Flash vs Social Gaming: The Differences

Do you remember when gaming just used to be called gaming, instead of being fragmented into a number of terms: casual gaming, social gaming, flash gaming? What do all these terms mean, and why care, ngmoco announcing iPad social games, a review of UNO for Facebook,

Scaling Your Social Games to Handle Popularity

Dr Robert Zubek of Zynga gave a fascinating talk, “Engineering Scalable Social Games,” at GDC 2010 Game Developers Conference about how Zynga has scaled up their computing resources to handle an increase number of players as well as increased usage. While the talk was fairly technical, here is the gist.

Podcast Friday: Interview with Hussein Fazal, CEO of AdParlor

For this week’s Podcast Friday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Hussein Fazal, the CEO and co-founder of AdParlor. We discussed AdParlor’s current strategy, their brand new auction feature, Facebook credits and the future of social advertising and media. The full interview is below.

Big Fish Games Release Second Facebook Game: My Tribe

This morning, Big Fish Games announced they will be releasing their second Facebook game, entitled My Tribe. The game involves evolving a tribe of people on a remote island. Big Fish is known for its high production value games, and this game is no different: the graphical and general aesthetic quality of the game is very high.

If “All Games Will Be Social”, How Far Along are Console Games?

At GDC this year, Gareth Davis, program manager for games at Facebook, went on record as saying that “pretty soon all games will be social”, and explained that Facebook, with 100 million players per month, is “the biggest game platform in the world”. Well if all games are trending towards becoming social, I thought it’d be interesting to analyze just how social console games already are.

GDC 2010: The Importance of Evoking Emotions in Social Games

When it comes to a giant conference like GDC 2010, there are always great talks to be heard, but a few like XEO Design President Nicole Lazzaro’s discussion, “4 Most Important Emotions for Social Games,” really stand out. This is the kind of talk every social game developer should hear, as should every game player who wants to know why they’re spending so much time adopting stray pink cows, or what have you.

Namco, Konami Enter Social Gaming With Pacman, Frogger

Namco and Konami are entering the social game sphere by introducing social elements into some of their biggest titles; Pacman and Frogger, respectively. Konami is using Facebook Connect to enable Frogger players to challenge their Facebook friends and Namco is introducing their UniteSDK engine which empowers players to play across devices. Namco plans to release Pacman later this month.

ngmoco Previews iPad Social Games: We Rule and Godfinger

Yesterday, ngmoco announced two “social strategy” games for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad: We Rule and Godfinger. The games utilize mechanics found in games like Farmville and other social networking games, and are likely aiming to bring that type of gameplay and monetization potential to the iPad and iPhone.

Report: 30 Percent of Gamers Can’t Afford Virtual Currency

Today, Offerpal released the results of a survey that targeted social gamers’ monetization activities. Specifically, the report found that 29.7% of social gamers do not have the ability or means to pay for virtual currencies with cash, and 53.3% of consumers are willing to engage in alternative payments, like offers, to earn virtual currency. The report also found some other interesting statistics related to monetization behavior.

Game Review: UNO For Facebook Successfully Translates The Classic Card Game

UNO, a family card game which has growing in popularity over the last 30 years, has been adapted to a great Facebook game (which you can play here) that seamlessly integrates real-time multiplayer gameplay and pleasing graphics. The game has been gaining momentum on Facebook, hovering around 3,700,000 monthly active users and is listed consistently in the top ten for “Card Games” on the Facebook Games dashboard. We review the popular game below.

GDC 2010: MySpace Announces New Games Homepage

Today, MySpace announced a revamped games homepage, available atwww.myspace.com/games, which helps users discover and share games virally. The new Games section also improves application engagement and analytics tools for game developers. In addition, MySpace introduced the “MySpace Neon iPhone” application that gives users access to their MySpace games on the iPhone.

Console Game Makers Take Lessons From Social Games At GDC 2010

At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2010 this year, Amitt Mahajan, a lead developer of Farmville, revealed that the entire development of Farmville took five weeks, that Zynga has a clear understanding of their userbase, and that they are integrating developers into the design process. These achievements are not common practice to the console gaming industry and gaming world at large, and it seems as if console game makers should start applying some of these lessons to their own games and development.

Portalarium Player Enables Console Game Ports On Facebook

Following shortly after the launch of Portalarium two weeks ago, game design legend Richard Garriot has taken his first big step and launched the Portalarium Player for Facebook. The Portalarium player allows games that were developed on various engines, consoles and platforms to run as applications within Facebook. Judging by the quality of their flagship title, Sweet @$! Poker’, Portalarium games may successfully bring the console game experience to Facebook.

RockYou’s Deal of the Day: High-Conversion CPE Ads for Social Games

RockYou are today launching their “Deal of the Day” (DOTD) ad unit, which gives flash game developers the ability to offer and monetize deals on virtual goods and services. This offering is part of RockYou’s ad network, which reaches 280 million people across most of the major social networks. Lisa Marino, Chief Revenue Officer at RockYou, in an interview with SocialTimes, provided a bit of insight.

Super Rewards Announces In-Game Flash Monetization Options

Super Rewards, an Adknowledge company and one of the largest virtual currency offer platforms on the web, has announced today a new version of its ad offer platform for Flash. The new platform allows players to accept any Super Rewards payment option without leaving their Flash game. Previous to this, gamers that wanted to use Super Rewards offers would have to click over to another screen, and sometimes would have to quit their current game to engage in the monetization aspect of the game. Super Rewards is stating that the new platform can be integrated into a Flash game in less than 30 minutes.

World Bank Institute Releases EVOKE Social Game

In an interesting effort to engage youth to solve real-world social problems, theWorld Bank Institute has introduced a social game entitled EVOKE. The game started on March 3rd and is running for ten weeks, and involves completing quests and missions with the goal of attaining the rank of “World Bank Institute Social Innovator”. The quests and missions themselves involve brainstorming solutions about social problems such as hunger, poverty, disease and conflict, and posting them to the site for the other players to see.

Can Independent Game Portals Like OMGPop Succeed Against Mindjolt?

Mindjolt and OMGPop.com represent two different types of successful game portals available on the web today. At surface level, they are both very similar: they are both free to play, they both use Flash to power their games and are both considered social gaming portals. That said, the sites represent different elements of the social/casual gaming world. OMGPop (1 million MAU) is a standalone site with a deeper experience, with in-house developed games and a multiplayer focus, while Mindjolt (20 million MAU) is a Facebook application and an aggregator that collects games from other developers and focuses on quick, short gameplay. In this analysis, we examine how the two sites compare to one another, and determine whether a standalone site like OMGPop can overtake a Facebook success like Mindjolt.

Sometrics Launches Social Gaming Community GameCoins.com

Sometrics is today launching GameCoins.com – a community and virtual currency marketplace website targeted at social game players. GameCoins.com focuses on highlighting sometrics’ partner games, such as War Rock and Sorority Life, and then providing a marketplace and community site around those games. Gamers can chat with other players about the games, but using the marketplace they can also earn their favorite games currency using Sometrics’ offers and standard payments.

Mochi Social Helps Developers Distribute, Monetize And Socialize Their Games

Mochi Media, a Flash game monetization provider, is launching the Mochi Social platform today, which helps Flash game developers monetize, develop, socialize and distribute their games. One of the key features of Mochi Social is the distribution platform: with little to no extra work, developers will be able to publish their games across many social networks and websites, and still have access to social and viral features. Those social features include twitter integration, RSS feeds and news posts.

The 7 Elements Of Social Game Success

According to four panelists at the FGS 2010 Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco, if you’re designing and developing a social game, there are a few critical elements to be considered if you want it to be a success. The panel, entitled “4 Keys to Successful Social Games that All Game Developers Should Know,” was moderated by Sana Choudary of Traffichoney.

Sony Online Entertainment Launches PoxNora For Facebook, Promises More Games

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), one of the largest and most successful online gaming companies of all time, has launched its first Facebook game, entitled PoxNora. PoxNora was previously available for play at PoxNora.com, and was hugely successful. The game was in fact acquired by SOE in January 2009, and has accumulated 2.5 million registered accounts so far. The game is a turn-based strategy game and collectable card game set in a fantasy universe. Sony also announced that they will “follow this inaugural Facebook launch of PoxNora with additional games for the Facebook platform based on both existing franchises and new intellectual property”.

Digital Chocolate Kicks Off The City-Building Genre With NanoTowns For Facebook

Digital Chocolate, best known for their various iPhone game hits, today announced the launch of NanoTowns, a city-building game for Facebook. The game focuses on creating a unique city by creating businesses, keeping citizens happy, and completing quests. It combines elements from old city-building games like SimCity with social elements from games like Cafe World and even Mafia Wars. Overall, the game has fun, cartoony graphics and is a rewarding experience, but only time will tell if it successfuly gains traffic: as of this writing the game has only 5,200 fans.