The game industry has gotten a lot of love from venture capitalists lately. For many years, VCs invested a small amount of money into games compared to other hot investments such as social media. But in the age of Facebook and mobile gaming, that has changed. In 2010, VentureBeat’s own analysis found that 91 game companies raised $1.05 billion in 2010, up 58 percent from a year earlier.
Guest Post The social era of computing has produced three multi-billion dollar companies: Facebook, Twitter and Zynga. As light is increasingly shed on the formation myths of Facebook and Twitter, a lot of new information casts doubt on the ethics and motivations of their respective founders. It is ironic that Zynga has had no such drama, since the company’s founder Mark Pincus has been lambasted for being unethical due to what TechCrunch dubbed “ScamVille”.
Tiny Speck said today it raised $10.7 million in the second round of funding for its online game business from Andreessen Horowitz and Accel.
Social gaming revenues hit $1 billion in 2010 and could grow five-fold to $5 billion in the next five years.
RockYou didn’t have to go far to find its new chief executive. It has selected its chief operating officer Lisa Marino as the new boss of the social game company.
The Zynga way — releasing games mid-production and updating them as time goes on — is the way to go for independent game developers, according to Minecraft creator Markus Persson.
Aiming to do good with a good game, game startup Talkie is rolling out its Facebook game Ecotopia today in a private beta test. This game has some extra oomph from its allies: actor Harrison Ford and nonprofit Conservation International.
Online games giant Oberon Media has decided to shut down in-house production, resulting in the elimination of an undetermined number of jobs, according to Oberon CEO and president Bob Hayes in an interview.
Korean online gaming firm Nexon has invested $5 million in Silicon Valley social game developer A Bit Lucky, maker of the popular Facebook game Lucky Train. The move helps Nexon position itself in the Facebook social gaming market and gives a small game developer an important ally in the broader online game market.
Virtual worlds for kids are kind of out of fashion among entrepreneurs. Big companies such as Disney own a lot of the market with game worlds such as Club Penguin.
Guest Post Jessica Rovello is president and co-founder of casual and social game maker Arkadium.
When it comes to simulating aquariums on the iPhone, nobody beats Gameview Studio‘s Tap Fish game, which has been downloaded more than 10 million times in the past year. And Gameview says that the game was one of the top-grossing free-to-play mobile apps of 2010 thanks to sales of virtual goods inside the game.
Social-gaming entrepreneur Brenda Brathwaite delivered a rant at the Game Developers Conference that would have made a tent preacher proud. In a session where speakers were encouraged to lash back at critics among traditional game makers, Brathwaite lobbed a bunch of grenades back at industry bigots who think social games are evil.
In a feisty attack on the fastest-growing sectors of the video-game industry, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said that smartphone games and social-media games focus on quantity instead of quality.
Guest Post [Peter Yared is the vice president of apps at Webtrends, which acquired Transpond, a social-apps developer he founded.]
Media baron Rupert Murdoch is going into video games — but not in his usually splashy way. Although he could easily drop a billion dollars on the burgeoning games business, he’s instead placing an uncharacteristically cautious small bet.
Women now play games more than men, according to a report by mobile app analytics provider Flurry. At least that’s true in the realm of mobile and mobile social games, where the likes of Zynga’s FarmVille and Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies are at the forefront.
Digital Chocolate, a developer of social games that appear on sites like Facebook, announced today that it has raised $12 million in its fourth round of funding from Intel Capital.
King.com, a popular casual gaming site with 25 million unique players a month, is moving into social games in a big way.
It looks like early reports about social gaming giant Zynga’s new funding round were a little conservative.
Social game maker Zynga is reportedly talking to investors about raising a new $250 million round of funding that values the company at $7 – $9 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Richard Garriott is known as a video-game pioneer, an undersea diver and an astronaut. Now he wants to outdo Zynga, the creator of FarmVille and CItyVille, in social games. His new game company, Portalarium, will debut its first major game in a month.
In Facebook games, a small pack of companies has most of the users. Applifier wants to change that, creating a new marketing vehicle so that independent game developers can cross-promote their games to a big audience. This idea, which the company describes as the “rebel alliance,” has gained a lot of momentum in the past year and has led to a new round of funding for Applifier.
As Facebook games become a bigger and bigger business, new social game startups continue to launch. The latest is SiXits.
Updated with analyst comments.
Aiming to lock up a high-quality game developer, RockYou has signed a deal with Loot Drop, a new social game studio created by id Software founders and gaming legends John Romero and Tom Hall.
Whispers of Google’s social gaming service had gone quiet since Facebook marched to the top of the hill and planted its feet at the front of the social gaming pack. But it might still be alive and in the works.
Few outside of the video-game industry have likely heard of Bing Gordon. But the game pioneer now wields major influence over the future of the Internet, with board seats on companies from Amazon.com to Zynga. Today is a day that Gordon’s fame may spread wider: he has been named the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, a prestigious video-game association.
Continuing its expansion in social games, RockYou said it is buying UK game developer Playdemic.
Rick Thompson is hoping that lightning strikes another time. Thompson was the chairman and co-founder of Playdom, the social game company that Disney bought last year for as much as $763 million. Now he has started a new game company, Wild Needle, focused on social games with a location twist.
Tapjoy, a transaction provider for games and sites that use virtual currencies, announced today that it has picked up $21 million in its third round of fundraising after shedding a bit of a dirty image in its old incarnation.
Social Web browser Flock just announced that it has been acquired by social gaming giant Zynga, confirming an earlier report in TechCrunch.
Game entrepreneur Sean Ryan has been hired as director of game partnerships at Facebook.
During 2010, we wrote about 1,100 stories on the video game industry — and the year isn’t over yet. But here’s a look back at what we thought were the biggest stories of the year. For fun, here’s a link to our story from a year ago, when we deemed that the biggest story of 2009 was that the industry discovered that video games weren’t recession proof.
Game fundings broke a record this year as 91 companies raised more than $1.05 billion in 2010. That number is up 58 percent from a year ago, based on VentureBeat’s own research.
Zynga launched a mobile version of its Mafia Wars Atlantic City game today. The game is the social game company’s first designed for the mobile Web in the HTML5 format, and comes as it’s seeking to show potential investors that it has more tricks up its sleeve than just social games on Facebook’s website.
After just 18 days, Zynga’s CityVille social game has soared to more than 47.9 million monthly active users. At its current growth rate, CityVille could surpass FarmVille, currently the largest social game at 56.3 million monthly users, in a matter of three days or so.
Zynga teamed up with recording artist Dr. Dre today to debut his new music video in its Facebook game Mafia Wars. And Facebook game publisher 6waves and TV production firm Endemol USA teamed up to produce a game around basketball icon Kobe Bryant.
Sibblingz, a startup that makes it easy to launch an app across different game platforms, is announcing today it can put social games inside Microsoft’s Bing search engine.