Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week and tell you what you need to know and why it matters.
The deal(ish): King Digital’s quarterly report shows the people are losing interest in Candy Crush, and stock prices fell 23 percent.
Investors are trend-chasers, and in tech, those trends move particularly quickly. But when it comes being a slave to fast-moving fads, gaming companies put the rest of the tech business to shame.
Question: You are a writer, tasked with analyzing popular culture for the purposes of edification, attention and profit. You’re going about your business, which likely consists of lamenting the lack of innovation in your chosen field. All of a sudden, something actually unexpected happens. A new genre emerges, instantly capturing the attention of audiences around the world with a basic structure that represents a radical departure from most everything on the market. What do you do?
The answer, of course, is to dismiss it as anathema, a dangerous threat to all that is good in the world and a pathetic diversion of the unwashed masses. Tried and true.
That’s what the world of traditional videogame journalism has decided to do regarding free-to-play mobile games, which happen to include some of the most popular games on Earth, enjoyed by millions.
Just when that last Farmville fan’s pathetic updates have disappeared from your news feed, Facebook today announced the launch of a software kit that will allow programmers to create three-dimensional games for the social network.
“Rage Against Rules,” declares a bolded headline in The New York Post today, which collected stats from App Data to paint a portrait of a flailing Instagram. The Post claims that following the terms of service debacle, which supposedly had both normals and celebrities fleeing the app, Instagram’s total active users has plunged 25 percent.
The app reportedly peaked at 16.4 million daily active users the week of Dec. 17, but has decreased to 12.4 million as of Dec. 27.
This is the Summer of Zynga’s discontent. There are Zynga’s stock woes, which have prompted Forbes to question whether the gaming company is really worth any money at all. Forbes‘s Eric Savitz writes that “the market is basically saying it simply does not see any long-term value in the company’s ongoing business.”
Then there’s also this class action suit filed against Zynga in a California Superior Court on July 16, which alleges Zynga failed to pay overtime and has unfair business practices.
It appears that Zynga, the evil mastermind behind FarmVille and Mafia Wars, is not completely hell-bent on destroying the world. The online game producer turned super villain announced today that it would help design a Facebook game to fight the oppression of women around the world.
The game is based on the novel Half the Sky, which follows the lives of women who have been victimized through sexual violence and trafficking, insufficient educational and financial opportunities and poor healthcare. It is part of a larger multimedia effort based on the book’s themes that will include a PBS miniseries as well as mobile games in India and Africa.
Gaming the System
Today, Zynga is hosting the press (and their dogs) at its San Francisco HQ for something called “Unleashed,” where the company will presumably be “unleashing” some new games. Let’s hope they’re a little more entertaining than that pun, because, as the New York Times points out, the company could use some help.
It’s not like Zynga’s woes are a secret: Shares are currently at $6.07, having debuted at $10 and spent time under $5. More people are gaming on mobile devices, and Facebook’s growth is slowing. The company shelled out $180 million for Draw Something, which is currently cratering. That just goes to show you how quickly games fall out of fashion, which makes planning awfully hard.
Also, just yesterday, EA launched the open beta of its social take on SimCity, which was previously announced with a trailer proclaiming “more city, less ville,” to the sounds of Best Coast’s “The Only Place.” Ouch, guys.
Sheep On Leashes
Obviously, regular old ebooks have arrived and they’re not going anywhere. Amazon now sells more Kindle books than print; ebook sales are the fastest-growing in the business. But now that readers have embraced the digital, here comes the next wave, says Wired: “enhanced ebooks,” which incorporate video and interactive elements. That’s all well and good, until someone starts throwing around the term “literary Farmville.”
From the company that plastered stickers all over the Lower East Side to promote Mafia Wars comes a sheep parade to promote the launch of a Farmville permutation called English Countryside.
It’s all about Facebook.
That was the general consensus of the noisy and mildly-lubricated crowd that had gathered last night in the upstairs balcony of Stitch, an after-work bar in the Garment District.
It was the afterparty for the Social Gaming Summit, a conference that lured developers and entrepreneurs from as far as Montreal, Read More