Game talkGameBreakr interview

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Mar 142010
 

While at GDC I did an interview with Gary Gannon of GameBreakr, and it’s now up on the site as two video clips. They were posted up with Justin.tv, and I can’t figure out how to embed them here… topics discussed include why core gamers should be excited about social games, where do AAA MMOs sit, and trends at GDC like 3d displays. But the link lets you watch them both back to back — it’s about 20 minutes worth of me blathering on.

Edit: here’s the vids!

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Game talkGDC10: Scaling Social Games, Robert Zubek

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Mar 122010
 

Scalable Social Games, Robert Zubek of Zynga (liveblog)

Social games interesting from an engineering point of view sinc ethey live at the intersection of games and web. We spend time thinking about making games fun, making players want to come back. We know those engineering challenges, but the web introduces its own set, especially around users arriving somewhat unpredictably, effects where huge populations come in suddenly. SNSes are a great example of this, with spreading network effects and unpredictable traffi fluctuations.

At Zynga we have 65m daily players, 225m monthly. And usage can vary drastically — Roller Coaster Kingdom gained 1m DAUs in one weekend going from 700k to 1.7m. Another example, Fishville grow from 0 to 6m DAUs in one week. Huge scalability challenges. And finally, Farmville grew 25m DAUs in five months. The cliff is not as steep but the order of magnitude difference adds its own challenge.

Talk outline: Introducing game developers to best practices for web development. Maybe you come from consoles or mobile or whatever, the web world introduces its own set of challenges and also a whole set of solutions that are already developed that we steal, or, uh, learn from. 🙂 If you are alreayd an experiened web developer, you may know this stuff already.

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Game talkGDC10: Justin Hall, Fate of a Social Games Company

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Mar 112010
 

The story of what happened to PMOG.

Justin Hall, “Fate of a Small Social Games Studio”

Justin started writing online 1994, did game journalism until 1998-2004, then USC Interactive Media Division 2004-2007, whih led to GameLayers Inc.

In mid 2006 saw ppl playing WoW, this sounds great but we are already on computers all day working, why jump back on to play? Could you take the elements of Wow and put them on top of everyday computer life, and get points, levels, etc?

prototype in May 2006, putting D&D stats on top of popular websites, like flickr and google, get str by surfing LA Times, lower Con by surfing Kotaku. Got funded for 10,000 pounds by the BBC. Use this to teach web literacy! But you need British programmers. So we got a British prototyper and built pmog. A toolbar that sat in an iframe and followed you around the web, classified you based on sites visited, let you level up.

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Mar 092010
 

Justin Smith, Inside Social Games

Explosive growth. Graph shows doubling every year.
2009: 490m revenues
2010: 835m

Virtual goods in Asia 5bn in 2008, 7bn in 2009,
In the US, 1bn in 2009.

Three big players in US:

1. Zynga, 700-900 employees, a few 100m in revenue, growth 50-70%. 3x more DAU than #2.

2. Playfish, 250+ employees, 75m in revenue, purchased by EA in 11/09

3. Playdom, 300+ employees, 50m in revenue, #1 on MySpace

Other players:
Crowdstar, quick rise to #2 based on DAU
RockYou, largest ad network on FB
Slide, was #1 for a long time by MAU (SuperPoke, etc), but not with games. Shifted to virtual goods model.

Interesting trend: a lot of interest from abroad, esp China. Developers who have been successful elsewhere porting apps to FB. FB is blocked in China. Rekoo (Animal Paradise, Sunshine Ranch), Elex (Happy Harvest), Five Minutes (Happy Farm), wooga (Brain Buddies), and 6waves, which follows more of a publisher model.

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