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Posts Tagged ‘castleville’

Zynga may be closing Omgpop game studio that it bought for $180M

June 3rd, 2013 No comments

draw something 2

It may not surprise anyone, but it looks like Zynga is shutting down Omgpop, the studio that made the wildly popular Draw Something mobile game. Zynga bought Omgpop a year ago for $180 million as Draw Something rocketed past tens of millions of players. It is an object lesson in how fast things change.

But the Pictionary-style game collapsed quickly, and Zynga took a $95 million write-off for Omgpop in October. Now Zynga is believed to be shutting down the studio as it lays off 520 people, or 18 percent of its 2,902 employees. The layoffs are expected to be completed by August, and Zynga spokespersons declined to say which studios would be closed and which games would be discontinued.

AllThingsD reported that Zynga would shut offices in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York. Those offices include the team in L.A. that made Empires & Allies, the Dallas team that created CastleVille, and Omgpop in New York. Putting two and two together, it’s not a surprise if Omgpop is a casualty. But so far, Zynga has made no official announcement.

Meanwhile, Omgpop’s Twitter account and some staffers have tweeted that they are out of work and that Omgpop is in fact gone.

I learned via Facebook I was laid off today and @omgpop office is closed. Thanks @zynga for again reminding me how not to operate a business

— Ali Nicolas (@ali_nicolas) June 3, 2013

While this is the last day at @zynga for many @omgpop staff, we want to thank you for all love and awesomeness over the years!

— omgpop (@omgpop) June 3, 2013


Filed under: Games

GamesBeat 2013GamesBeat 2013 is our fifth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. You'll get 360-degree perspectives from top gaming executives, developers, and analysts on what’s to come in the industry. Our theme this year is “The Battle Royal.” Check out full event details here, and grab your early-bird tickets here!
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Zynga may be shutting OMGPOP game studio that it bought for $180M

June 3rd, 2013 No comments

draw something 2

It may not surprise anyone, but it looks like Zynga is shutting down OMGPOP, the game studio that made the wildly popular Draw Something mobile game. Zynga bought OMGPOP a year ago for $180 million as Draw Something rocketed past tens of millions of players.

But the Pictionary-style game collapsed quickly and Zynga took a $95 million write-off for OMGPOP in October. Now Zynga is believed to be shutting down the studio as it lays off 520 people, or 18 percent of its 2,902 employees. The layoffs are expected to be completed by August, and Zynga spokespersons declined to say which studios would be shut and which games would be discontinued.

AllThingsD reported that Zynga would shut offices in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York. Those offices include the team in L.A. that made Empires & Allies, the Dallas team that created CastleVille, and OMGPOP in New York. Putting two and two together, it’s not a surprise if OMGPOP is a casualty. But so far, Zynga has made no official announcement.

Meanwhile, OMGPOP’s Twitter account and some staffers have tweeted that they are out of work and that OMGPOP is in fact gone.

I learned via Facebook I was laid off today and @omgpop office is closed. Thanks @zynga for again reminding me how not to operate a business

— Ali Nicolas (@ali_nicolas) June 3, 2013

While this is the last day at @zynga for many @omgpop staff, we want to thank you for all love and awesomeness over the years!

— omgpop (@omgpop) June 3, 2013


Filed under: Games

GamesBeat 2013GamesBeat 2013 is our fifth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. You'll get 360-degree perspectives from top gaming executives, developers, and analysts on what’s to come in the industry. Our theme this year is “The Battle Royal.” Check out full event details here, and grab your early-bird tickets here!
    


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Another ex-Ensemble mobile game startup, BonusXP, comes out of stealth (exclusive)

July 19th, 2012 No comments

BonusXP is coming out of stealth today as a new mobile game studio, founded by a team whose members come from Zynga’s Bonfire Studios, Robot Entertainment, and id Software.

The Allen, Texas-based studio includes Dave Pottinger, chief executive and former senior programmer at Robot Entertainment (pictured right); John Evanson, director of technology and former Ensemble Studios developer; and Jason Sallenbach (center), art director and former senior character artist at id Software. The team has just five people and is working on its first action-oriented mobile game.

All of them cut their teeth at Ensemble Studios, the studio that made Age of Empires and grew to 115 people before Microsoft shut it in 2009.So the studio is part of the diaspora of Ensemble Studios, whose veterans have gone on to start a number of Texas game studios. They started the new studio in April.

Mobile game studios can get off the ground and publish a game with just a handful of people. That’s why they’re starting to proliferate now, as mobile games start to become a bigger piece of the overall pie. They’re so small that they don’t need funding and can field a product on the App Store within a relatively short time. This week alone, PeopleFun and BitMonster Games came out of stealth as new mobile game studios.

The tough part, besides making a great game, is monetization. Pottinger acknowledges that, and he notes that the team has worked on projects in social and mobile games where they have had to focus on monetization. But the first task is getting the company’s first game done at a high-quality level.

Pottinger said the thinking is that the company will remain small, with perhaps eight to 10 people. It will focus on team-based design, high-quality, smartphones and tablet titles, and broad-audience games. The firm has no plans to raise money.

“Our philosophy is to do it with a small team where everyone is involved in the design and iteration,” he said. “The moment-to-moment game play has to be awesome.”

Pottinger was once the lead engine programmer for Ensemble. He and Evanson created the engine that powered games including Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, and Halo Wars. Pottinger was lead designer on Halo Wars. He then did a short stint at Robot Entertainment, also started by Ensemble veterans, and then moved on to Bonfire Studios, which was acquired by Zynga. He led CastleVille through initial concept, design, and launch and stayed on for six months afterward.

“We shipped a game that was good and polished, with a crafting, depth, and replayability,” Pottinger said.

Evanson helped launch the original Age of Empires at Ensemble Studios. He worked as a programmer on Age of Empires II, Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, and Halo Wars. He also worked on Age of Empires Online, Orcs Must Die! and Halo Academy at Robot Entertainment.

Sallenbach worked at Ritual Entertainment and then Ensemble Studios. He also worked at id Software as a senior character artist on Rage. He said, “Our art will be something that is unique in the mobile space.”

Pottinger said the team veered off into mobile because that’s what they were playing all the time. Like many other gamers, their habits are changing and they’re playing fewer console games.

The company will unveil its first game later this summer. Competitors are plentiful, including Electronic Arts, PopCap, Rovio, and others.


Filed under: dev, games, mobile, VentureBeat


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Another ex-Ensemble mobile game startup, BonusXP, comes out of stealth (exclusive)

July 19th, 2012 No comments

BonusXP is coming out of stealth today as a new mobile game studio, founded by a team whose members come from Zynga’s Bonfire Studios, Robot Entertainment, and id Software.

The Allen, Texas-based studio includes Dave Pottinger, chief executive and former senior programmer at Robot Entertainment (pictured right); John Evanson, director of technology and former Ensemble Studios developer; and Jason Sallenbach (center), art director and former senior character artist at id Software. The team has just five people and is working on its first action-oriented mobile game.

All of them cut their teeth at Ensemble Studios, the studio that made Age of Empires and grew to 115 people before Microsoft shut it in 2009.So the studio is part of the diaspora of Ensemble Studios, whose veterans have gone on to start a number of Texas game studios. They started the new studio in April.

Mobile game studios can get off the ground and publish a game with just a handful of people. That’s why they’re starting to proliferate now, as mobile games start to become a bigger piece of the overall pie. They’re so small that they don’t need funding and can field a product on the App Store within a relatively short time. This week alone, PeopleFun and BitMonster Games came out of stealth as new mobile game studios.

The tough part, besides making a great game, is monetization. Pottinger acknowledges that, and he notes that the team has worked on projects in social and mobile games where they have had to focus on monetization. But the first task is getting the company’s first game done at a high-quality level.

Pottinger said the thinking is that the company will remain small, with perhaps eight to 10 people. It will focus on team-based design, high-quality, smartphones and tablet titles, and broad-audience games. The firm has no plans to raise money.

“Our philosophy is to do it with a small team where everyone is involved in the design and iteration,” he said. “The moment-to-moment game play has to be awesome.”

Pottinger was once the lead engine programmer for Ensemble. He and Evanson created the engine that powered games including Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, and Halo Wars. Pottinger was lead designer on Halo Wars. He then did a short stint at Robot Entertainment, also started by Ensemble veterans, and then moved on to Bonfire Studios, which was acquired by Zynga. He led CastleVille through initial concept, design, and launch and stayed on for six months afterward.

“We shipped a game that was good and polished, with a crafting, depth, and replayability,” Pottinger said.

Evanson helped launch the original Age of Empires at Ensemble Studios. He worked as a programmer on Age of Empires II, Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, and Halo Wars. He also worked on Age of Empires Online, Orcs Must Die! and Halo Academy at Robot Entertainment.

Sallenbach worked at Ritual Entertainment and then Ensemble Studios. He also worked at id Software as a senior character artist on Rage. He said, “Our art will be something that is unique in the mobile space.”

Pottinger said the team veered off into mobile because that’s what they were playing all the time. Like many other gamers, their habits are changing and they’re playing fewer console games.

The company will unveil its first game later this summer. Competitors are plentiful, including Electronic Arts, PopCap, Rovio, and others.


Filed under: dev, games, mobile, VentureBeat


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Plant a money tree in Farmville as Zynga and American Express launch new rewards program

May 22nd, 2012 No comments

Zynga announced today the launch of Zynga Serve Rewards, a new virtual game cash rewards program with a prepaid card that is co-branded with American Express and connected to the Serve digital wallet from the credit card company.

Customers will need to register for the Zynga Serve Rewards program to get a prepaid card in the mail, which they will need to fund via bank account, debit card, or cash. Once the Serve card is activated online or by phone, it can be used anywhere American Express cards are accepted for purchases.

Once registered with the rewards program, Farmville players will be able to plant a special “Money Tree” in their online farms, which will start to produce virtual awards, according to Jeff Carp, chief marketing and revenue officer at Zynga. The money tree will evolve or level up as players progress in the game with virtual items like colors, glow effects, butterflies and toucans. The virtual tree will also serve as a dashboard for the prepaid card service, said Carp, allowing players to check their rewards status in-game. The plan over the next year is to extend the virtual rewards for real life spending to other Zynga games as well, like CastleVille and CityVille.

At launch, only the first five purchases of $25 or more on the Zynga Serve Rewards card will earn Farm Cash rewards. The program is set to eventually provide rewards above the initial first five purchases of $25 or more.

“We’re excited to partner with American Express to invent new ways for people to experience Zynga play in more parts of their day,” said Mark Pincus, chief executive and founder of Zynga. “Together we can add surprise and delight to every day shopping.”

 


Filed under: games

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Plant a money tree in Farmville as Zynga and American Express launch new rewards program

May 22nd, 2012 No comments

Zynga announced today the launch of Zynga Serve Rewards, a new virtual game cash rewards program with a prepaid card that is co-branded with American Express and connected to the Serve digital wallet from the credit card company.

Customers will need to register for the Zynga Serve Rewards program to get a prepaid card in the mail, which they will need to fund via bank account, debit card, or cash. Once the Serve card is activated online or by phone, it can be used anywhere American Express cards are accepted for purchases.

Once registered with the rewards program, Farmville players will be able to plant a special “Money Tree” in their online farms, which will start to produce virtual awards, according to Jeff Carp, chief marketing and revenue officer at Zynga. The money tree will evolve or level up as players progress in the game with virtual items like colors, glow effects, butterflies and toucans. The virtual tree will also serve as a dashboard for the prepaid card service, said Carp, allowing players to check their rewards status in-game. The plan over the next year is to extend the virtual rewards for real life spending to other Zynga games as well, like CastleVille and CityVille.

At launch, only the first five purchases of $25 or more on the Zynga Serve Rewards card will earn Farm Cash rewards. The program is set to eventually provide rewards above the initial first five purchases of $25 or more.

“We’re excited to partner with American Express to invent new ways for people to experience Zynga play in more parts of their day,” said Mark Pincus, chief executive and founder of Zynga. “Together we can add surprise and delight to every day shopping.”

 


Filed under: games

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Zynga earnings preview: what the analysts think

April 26th, 2012 No comments

Zynga’s stock price has been falling in recent days in advance of the company’s first quarter earnings report today. The shares are trading at $9.15 a share right now, up slightly but down significantly from a recent high of $15.91 a share. Do investors know something?

Analysts expect the company to report earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $316.8 million for the first quarter ended March 31. On AppData, Zynga has 281.6 million monthly active users and all five of the top five games. Here’s what some of the analysts who follow Zynga closely think:

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird Equity Research, said in a note that he expects results to be in line or slightly below estimates of a profit of 6 cents a share for the quarter.

He noted recently that Facebook said that Zynga accounted for 11 percent of its revenues in the first quarter, down from 12 percent in the fourth quarter. Zynga pays about 30 percent of revenues to Facebook as a fee for Facebook Credits transactions, not counting advertising. That suggests Zynga’s net bookings were around $230 million in the quarter. The company also probably generated $65 million in ad bookings. He noted that Zynga games continue to dominate the charts on Facebook, accounting for eight of the top 10 games in daily average users. On iOS, Zynga has six of the top 100 grossing apps and eight of the top 100 on Android.

“While Zynga continues to dominate Facebook games and is making solid progress on mobile platforms, we believe that slower growth on Facebook limits upside to estimates near term,” Sebastian said.

Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, also said he expects results to be in-line with expectations. Pachter increased estimates for the fiscal year to reflect the acquisition of OMGPOP, which has a hit game in Draw Something on iOS. For the full year, he expects bookings of $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of 24 cents to 28 cents.

He expects Zynga shares to hit $17 a share in the coming year.

Atul Bagga, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, said in a note that he expects a profit of 4 cents on revenue of $315.6 million. He thinks Zynga has had a strong reception for its Hidden Chronicles and Slingo games and improved the monetization of CastleVille. Mafia Wars may be underperforming as a franchise, while Zynga Poker, CityVille and FarmVille are stable.

He expects guidance for the full year to be raised from the $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion range to something higher. Bagga believes the stock has been falling based on fears that Zynga will make more (seemingly unwise) acquisitions but he thinks those fears are overblown. His long-term target for the stock is $16 a share.

 


Filed under: games, gbunfiltered, social

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Zynga earnings preview: what the analysts think

April 26th, 2012 No comments

Zynga’s stock price has been falling in recent days in advance of the company’s first quarter earnings report today. The shares are trading at $9.15 a share right now, up slightly but down significantly from a recent high of $15.91 a share. Do investors know something?

Analysts expect the company to report earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $316.8 million for the first quarter ended March 31. On AppData, Zynga has 281.6 million monthly active users and all five of the top five games. Here’s what some of the analysts who follow Zynga closely think:

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird Equity Research, said in a note that he expects results to be in line or slightly below estimates of a profit of 6 cents a share for the quarter.

He noted recently that Facebook said that Zynga accounted for 11 percent of its revenues in the first quarter, down from 12 percent in the fourth quarter. Zynga pays about 30 percent of revenues to Facebook as a fee for Facebook Credits transactions, not counting advertising. That suggests Zynga’s net bookings were around $230 million in the quarter. The company also probably generated $65 million in ad bookings. He noted that Zynga games continue to dominate the charts on Facebook, accounting for eight of the top 10 games in daily average users. On iOS, Zynga has six of the top 100 grossing apps and eight of the top 100 on Android.

“While Zynga continues to dominate Facebook games and is making solid progress on mobile platforms, we believe that slower growth on Facebook limits upside to estimates near term,” Sebastian said.

Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, also said he expects results to be in-line with expectations. Pachter increased estimates for the fiscal year to reflect the acquisition of OMGPOP, which has a hit game in Draw Something on iOS. For the full year, he expects bookings of $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of 24 cents to 28 cents.

He expects Zynga shares to hit $17 a share in the coming year.

Atul Bagga, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, said in a note that he expects a profit of 4 cents on revenue of $315.6 million. He thinks Zynga has had a strong reception for its Hidden Chronicles and Slingo games and improved the monetization of CastleVille. Mafia Wars may be underperforming as a franchise, while Zynga Poker, CityVille and FarmVille are stable.

He expects guidance for the full year to be raised from the $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion range to something higher. Bagga believes the stock has been falling based on fears that Zynga will make more (seemingly unwise) acquisitions but he thinks those fears are overblown. His long-term target for the stock is $16 a share.

 


Filed under: games, gbunfiltered, social

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GamesBeat Weekly Roundup

March 30th, 2012 No comments

Here are some of the stories that ran on GamesBeat this week. We’re running more articles exclusively in the GamesBeat section of VentureBeat, particularly when they’re mainly of interest to our game readers. The broader-interest posts will continue to run on VentureBeat as well. Please visit the GamesBeat section to catch up on the latest game news. We’re ramping up our game coverage, so you’ll find a larger amount of deeper news at GamesBeat.

Here are the best stories that appeared exclusively on GamesBeat this week:

Minecraft makes multimedia history with a novel-inspired adventure map

Armored Core V: A blend of motorheads and samurai

4 things you won’t see in Assassin’s Creed III

At 700K now, this dude is aiming for 1M gamerscore on the Xbox 360

Martha Stewart guest stars in Zynga’s CastleVille social game

Sony readies three new freemium PlayStation Home games

An in-depth preview of SimCity reveals an intricately crafted experience

Meet the one OMGPOP employee who turned down a new job at Zynga

Mobile search ad StartApp raises $4M in first round of funding

Call of Duty front man resigns from Infinity Ward

Troubled U.K. retailer Game closes 277 stores

Mass Effect 3: Character deaths

Mass Effect 3: Romances

Mass Effect 3: Endings, analyses, and theories

And here are some of the big game stories of the week:

Disney and DeNa to collaborate on mobile social games

THQ lays off 118 people and downsizes ambitions for Warhammer 40K game

Worldwide mobile gaming revenue could reach $7.5 billion by 2015

Journey team loses one of its co-founders

Badgeville powers gamified reality TV show Escape Routes

Sony’s PlayStation 4 may be code-named Orbis

Outbid mixes gamification and social networks with real-time online auctions

Kinect for Windows 1.5 will have better tracking and broader reach

Mob Science raises $1M for social games on Zynga’s platform

Angry Birds creator Rovio acquires Futuremark Games Studio

Angry Birds Space zooms to 10M downloads in just three days

Guild Wars 2 challenges MMO establishment with hybrid business model (preview)


Filed under: games, VentureBeat


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GamesBeat Weekly Roundup

March 30th, 2012 No comments

Here are some of the stories that ran on GamesBeat this week. We’re running more articles exclusively in the GamesBeat section of VentureBeat, particularly when they’re mainly of interest to our game readers. The broader-interest posts will continue to run on VentureBeat as well. Please visit the GamesBeat section to catch up on the latest game news. We’re ramping up our game coverage, so you’ll find a larger amount of deeper news at GamesBeat.

Here are the best stories that appeared exclusively on GamesBeat this week:

Minecraft makes multimedia history with a novel-inspired adventure map

Armored Core V: A blend of motorheads and samurai

4 things you won’t see in Assassin’s Creed III

At 700K now, this dude is aiming for 1M gamerscore on the Xbox 360

Martha Stewart guest stars in Zynga’s CastleVille social game

Sony readies three new freemium PlayStation Home games

An in-depth preview of SimCity reveals an intricately crafted experience

Meet the one OMGPOP employee who turned down a new job at Zynga

Mobile search ad StartApp raises $4M in first round of funding

Call of Duty front man resigns from Infinity Ward

Troubled U.K. retailer Game closes 277 stores

Mass Effect 3: Character deaths

Mass Effect 3: Romances

Mass Effect 3: Endings, analyses, and theories

And here are some of the big game stories of the week:

Disney and DeNa to collaborate on mobile social games

THQ lays off 118 people and downsizes ambitions for Warhammer 40K game

Worldwide mobile gaming revenue could reach $7.5 billion by 2015

Journey team loses one of its co-founders

Badgeville powers gamified reality TV show Escape Routes

Sony’s PlayStation 4 may be code-named Orbis

Outbid mixes gamification and social networks with real-time online auctions

Kinect for Windows 1.5 will have better tracking and broader reach

Mob Science raises $1M for social games on Zynga’s platform

Angry Birds creator Rovio acquires Futuremark Games Studio

Angry Birds Space zooms to 10M downloads in just three days

Guild Wars 2 challenges MMO establishment with hybrid business model (preview)


Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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