Articles of Interest

I’ve just returned from a lovely three week trip to Australia, thus the downtime for Game Tycoon. Melbourne has earned my vote for “nicest botanical garden” and Sydney for “best large-animal aquarium exhibit,” while Cairns nets “loveliest man-made pseudo-lagoon.” 🙂 Now, onto some long delayed links!

Excellent overview of the social RPG space, by Steve Meretzky and Dave Rohrl, with insights into monetization, game design, and more. Must-read for anyone not already well-versed in social gaming trends.

PhotoSketch is not positioned as a game, but it easily could be one. It automatically transforms stick-figure drawings into a richly-detailed photograph. Watch the video — it’s amazing and wonderful!

Basic but useful reminders about proper marketing and positioning for iPhone games, specifically. And here are some more general community marketing tips.

An explosion of news from the social gaming market:

  • It’s now believed that Zynga is earning $500k revenue per day, and spends approximately $50m annually on Facebook advertising.
  • By comparison, Playdom is generating just $50m in annual revenue but is managing to do so with 1/5th the number of Facebook users. How? More MySpace users (who apparently tend to be more lucrative than Facebook users, owing to a greater proportion living in the US.)
  • Zynga’s FarmVille now has over 50m monthly active users. The enormity of this achievement cannot be understated. Also interesting to note that Chinese developers are becoming some of the most prominent faces on the Facebook Top-20 games chart.
  • Zynga’s Restaurant City clone, Café World, grew from zero to 9m users in a single week! Another example of Zynga’s brutally efficient methodology — let other companies prove out a concept, copy it almost verbatim (save for minor improvements) then out-market the competition with intense ad spending and cross-promotion.
  • Sign of the times: PopCap, which has always been boot-strapped, just raised $22.5m… why? To enable it to compete in the social gaming space. Guess they (wisely) don’t want to turn into Playfish, aka “Zynga’s unofficial R&D department.”
  • …and the big, traditional publishers are where exactly?

Insight into how Twisted Pixel was able to develop the very polished XBLA hit ‘Splosion Man in just half a year. The key: rapid iteration and focusing on the core of the gameplay experience.

From AGDC: interesting insights into important customer support tools for online games.

Later this year, Adobe will enable developers to cross-compile Flash applications directly into iPhone-compatible stand-alone apps. As Raph aptly puts it: “This s a huge game-changer. Expect the App Store to get overwhelmed with Flash apps within days of this becoming available as every good Flash app is ported over. It’s another solid step on Adobe’s part towards making Flash a common rendering and development platform across multiple devices.”

There’s more to life than games:

Andrew Chen with some good advice on hiring the first few employees for your startup.

Seth Godin on business development: “The thing that makes business development fascinating is that the best deals have never been done before. There’s no template, no cookie cutter grind it out approach to making it work. This is why most organizations are so astonishingly bad at it. They don’t have the confidence to make decisions or believe they have the ability to make mistakes.” Some good tips in there on “how to make it work” despite the assertion quoted above. 🙂

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