Big money in social betting games

Games and gambling and social media are combining in profitable new ways:
Bet Tycoon

Crowdpark, a startup developer focused on social betting games, today announced investments totaling about $6 million from Target Partners and existing investor Earlybird Venture Capital. This brings the Berlin-based company’s total amount of funding to approximately $8 million. Waldemar Jantz, partner at Target Partners, will also join the board of Crowdpark.

The funding will be used to enhance the technology, develop cross-platform, create new games, and hire more talent in game design and development.

Crowdpark products offer players the opportunity to bet on real life events in sports, entertainment, business, politics and other topics, and to compete against each other in betting events, using virtual currency. Since the game runs in real time, players can change their bet at any time, as the event or news unfolds.

The company said this is made possible by its patented dynamic betting technology that enables forecasts in social gaming in real-time “similar to how people play the stock market.”

Chris Marlowe @ dmwmedia.com

Zynga and Video Games

Scott Steinberg asks:

“Is Zynga Now A Video Game Company?”

Certainly. Zynga’s as much a video game company as any of the interactive entertainment field’s brightest lights. Of course, given the firm’s primarily business-focused approach to design, it’s also the devil incarnate to some. But the real irony that many people miss is that the outfit may inadvertently be one of the best things to happen to gaming since the invention of the home console.
Scott Steinberg @ kotaku.com

It’s a big article, chock-full of interesting observations. Here’s a sample:

There’s a reason gaming’s most legendary developers continue to defect to the social space, and it’s not six-figure paychecks and lightning-quick development turnaround times alone. As Loot Drop’s Brenda Brathwaite so elegantly pointed out in her GDC rant, the industry is on the verge of a fundamental sea change as social gaming continues to explode in popularity -– even amongst those who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers –- and companies like Zynga are standing on the front lines of what promises to be both revelation and revolution, ushering in an entirely new and different (possibly better) era of game design and development.

Designing Games with Massive Social Data

Social networking is changing more than games: it’s changing game design.

For years, “classically trained” game designers in the industry have relied on their gut instincts to make decisions as to what players want. Much of this was based on intuition, imagining that yes, of course players would enjoy attacking other spaceships more than building and upgrading their own. Or a whiteboard discussion revolving around how long an average session is -– a few minutes, for an hour, or for hours at a time. Or maybe an argument about player’s play styles -– do they prefer to level up in order to improve stats, or do they like to spend money on items?

In the past, discussions and arguments like this are usually resolved by whichever designer can make the best points and steer the conversation towards their personal conclusion. While this approach is often effective if the development team is a talented one, it is often faulty and can produce decisions that don’t reflect player’s actual behavior.

By being able to pull live data from a game, arguments like this can be resolved almost instantly. In the middle of a shouting match on whether or not players like to upgrade their buildings every time they log in, someone can say, “Hey, guys, I looked it up, and yes, actually players level 1-30 upgrade 4 buildings on average every time they log in.” Everyone nods their head, makes the decision, and moves on. Or in a heated discussion of whether or not players need to be given more money in the game, someone can say, “Hey everyone, here is a graph showing the amounts of soft currency that people have right now. You can see that actually, most players have three times too much.” Income is slashed, expensive items are put on the market, and the job is done.

Brice Morrison @ Inside Social Games

Brice Morrison is a former CrowdStar designer and editor of The Game Prodigy

Game Design Has Become a Game

To a game designer, everything is game design … including game design:

The most exclusive game on Facebook is also the most lucrative and intense: the game design of the games themselves. For designers in the space, particularly those from the traditional game industry, game design has become its own game, complete with a leaderboard.

“Every night at midnight, I check AppData,” says John Romero, a veteran video game designer, consultant and lead designer of Ravenwood Fair. The site has become a de facto leaderboard for many developers, backed up by weekly top games lists.

Imbued by a deep love of game play, many designers view social game design, and the competition it creates with other designers, as a real-time strategy game, complete with in-depth stats and armies composed of coders, artists, animators and product managers.

Brenda Brathwaite @ Inside Social Games

“Sims” Creator To Debut Crowd-Sourced, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure TV Show

Will Wright, creator of The Sims, Sim City and Spore will be co-producing a new program on CurrentTV called “Bar Karma” —
Will Wright: Bar Karma: CurrentTV

Will Wright’s new TV venture makes producers out of the audience

Anchored by technology that Wright has developed exclusively for Current TV, the series, tentatively titled Bar Karma, will enlist viewers to join an online global community at a special web destination entitled, “Current TV’s Creation Studios.” At this virtual television studio, users will participate in the development of all creative and technical aspects of production and communicate directly with the producers of the show.

Evan Narcisse @ IFC

Further evidence of what I have been saying for years: computers, games, movies, and television will merge into a new hybrid technologies involving large numbers of people, around the clock and around the world.

Max Skibinsky on social network gaming

“In our case market promotion is simply non existent. Our games spread by word of mouth only. If players like your games they will go to great lengths to engage their friends.”
— Max Skibinsky

Hive7 LogoFrom a recent interview with Max Skibinsky of Hive7:

MS: I started Hive7 in 2005. Back then web gaming was in its infancy, and the web 2.0 juggernaut was just getting started. We believed that we could harness the emerging rich web technologies to deliver gaming experiences without the shackles of a traditional game company model (publishers, retail sales etc). We started experimenting with AJAX gaming technologies and it worked out terrifically in long term.

VGN: What are some of the games you’ve created? What are you working on right now?

MS: We found our biggest success on Facebook after trying about five different games. Our top game is the social MMO Knighthood, which has grown to six million players. Now we are introducing new games to cover as many diverse genres as we can. Recently we introduced another hit with the soccer (football to non-Americans) MMO “Kick-Off” and are just about to launch a zombie apocalypse game. We have a couple more secret projects in development.

VGN: How do you promote your games? I would imagine the marketing campaign – and targeted advertising – is significantly different from a standard video game campaign.

MS: In our case market promotion is simply non existent. Our games spread by word of mouth only. If players like your games they will go to great lengths to engage their friends.

Max Skibinsky @ Video Game News

Hive7