Monday, February 13, 2012

Is Microsoft the unrecognized king of virtual items sales?

When most people think of virtual items sales, they probably think of social games and massively multiplayer games, primarily on the on the PC But a recent nugget from a Microsoft COO Dennis Durkin at this week's E3 conference has revealed that another source of virtual item sales might be much larger than generally accepted: Microsoft's Xbox Live.

Speaking to Forbes' Oliver Chiang, Durkin revealed that Microsoft's Xbox Live transactions business -- which includes virtual clothing and accessories for in-game Avatars -- recently surpassed revenues from Xbox Live's $50/year subscriptions. Doing some quick back-of-the-envelope math, Chiang estimates that means Microsoft is making at least $625 million annually from thier virtual items sales. Compare that to top social game maker Zynga, which is only bringing in an estimated $600 million in total revenue, and you can see just how impressive Microsoft's virtual goods business really is.

Of course, this isn't quite an apples-to-apples comparison. Microsoft's digital transactions business includes downloadable games, movies and music as well as in-game items and add-on content. Putting that variety up against Zynga's almost purely in-game-item-based economy isn't quite fair to the Facebook giant. Still, it's an interesting data point, and one that suggests the future of the virtual goods business might not reset solely in Facebook's mighty hands.

EA touts Playfish growth amidst tumbling Facebook gaming numbers

It hasn't exactly been a great few months for social games of late, with a change in Facebook's notification policy leading almost directly to some pretty drastic reductions in player numbers for many popular games. But Playfish owner Electronic Arts says the general downturn hasn't really hurt its newest $300 million social gaming acquisition.

"We've been very pleased with the PlayFish acquisition," EA Interactive's Barry Cottle said in a recent investor briefing (as reported by Gamasutra). "PlayFish is right now the number two player in the marketplace and the only one that's been growing in the past four months."

Indeed, Cottle said that Playfish has grown by five percent since last year's acquisition, partly on the strength of new games like Fifa Superstars and My Empire. So even though numbers across EA's Facebook games have been relatively flat over the past month, things are still looking up for social games as far as EA is (publicly) concerned.

YoVille Jobs Available To More Facebook Players. Myspace Players Stay Tuned !

This is an official post by Zynga's Platinum Ninja.

YoVille Jobs are in game now to more players on Facebook. Don't worry Myspace players this feature will be coming to this social network very soon as well! Based on the feedback and bugs that were reported by our YoVille Job's testers we have updated this feature and we'll continue to address these issues that have been brought up! Let's check out what YoVille Jobs updates we have implemented and go over how this feature is going to work for those of you who just received this feature for the first time! First, let's recap this exciting new feature that gives you another way to earn coins!

What are YoVille Jobs?

This is a new feature that will allow you to make more coins, get a chance to receive new rare items and give you more fun things to do in YoVille. For a step by step breakdown on how to play YoVille Jobs please read HERE. Make sure to check this Blog out as we will walk you through the new icons in game, how to complete a job, energy, hints & tips and more!

Also, stay tuned for a FAQ for YoVille Jobs for all of your Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.yoville.com/faq

*Updates to YoVille Jobs*

More ways to get energy and share it too! – You can now receive and share energy through Feeds and Free Gifts. We'll have two separate feeds that you can post depending on if you are out of energy or if you just found some energy and want to share with friends. So whether you are out of energy or feeling generous make sure to "share" or ask for help and help each other out!

Don't forget you'll also be able to send your friends these new Free Gift energy drink as well so ask your friends to send you some energy drinks and send some back in return.

Energy Feed #1 - After you have found a bucket of energy drinks during YoVille Jobs and want to share them with your friends
YoVille Bucket of Energy Drinks
YoVille sharing Bucket of Energy
Energy Feed #2 – Will allow you to ask your friends for more energy when you run out
YoVille not enough energy
YoVille needs more energy
*Please note that if you do not have jobs yet but are seeing the Energy Drink feeds that you can still click in on the Feeds to receive Energy and we will store them for you until you receive this feature but you will not be able to view them yet. When you do receive the feature they will appear under the "Special" category of your inventory. Also, if you do not have the feature yet and receive the Energy Free Gifts you will receive coins instead until you receive this feature :) *

Resume YoVille Jobs where you left off playing – If you are in the middle of a job and have to sign off you will no longer have to go through the entire job location to pick up where you left off. Instead when you click on the job you are resuming you will be taken straight to the room you were last in during the last time you played that particular job.

Rare Items will be Giftable/Tradeable – now that the majority of players will have access to these items we will be turning these items on as giftable and tradeable so you can sell them or give them away to your friends. If you don't have this feature yet don't worry you will very soon and will be able to get a chance to receive these rare items. Until then you may have a nice friend that may want to share until you receive this feature ;)

Jobs Payouts – based on your feedback we saw that many of you would like to know how much you can make per job. This will now be displayed when browsing different jobs and you will be shown a range of coins you can make during each job. This will not only show you how much you will be able to make but will let you now prioritize your time in jobs, based on coin payouts for which jobs you would like to complete first or use your energy on!
YoVille Ghost Hunter payout range
Another big shout out to those who have been testing this feature the last few weeks! Great job bringing important feedback to our attention!

Quote of the moment: What "terrifies" CliffyB?

"Gears of FarmVille? It's fun to hate on FarmVille but they obviously did something right. The rest of the industry is looking at lessons to be learned as far as reciprocity and how to have everybody publicize your game whether they want to or not.

"Our engine is up and running on the iPhone and iPad .... We'll see as far as our actual games appearing on there what happens in the future. It's hard to ignore those numbers. And it's hard to ignore the fractured market and how it is now. A few years ago it was like PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Now it's like, OK, PC, MMOs, browser-based games and Facebook-based games and iPad games, Nintendo 3D DS, Xbox and then Kinect and PlayStation Move and PlayStation 3, and it's like there's 4 million different categories, which quite frankly terrifies me. I think the industry's a little bit nervous about it."

FarmVille: Watch Disney's Toy Story 3 Trailer for 2 Free Farm Cash!

A new sponsored link for Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 movie which opens Friday, June 18th, is appearing at the bottom of your FarmVille loading screen.

Upon clicking on the sponsored link, you can watch the Toy Story 3 trailer and answer a question, "What was your favorite toy as a kid?" and then be rewarded with 2 free farm cash!

Simple enough, and worth the free farm cash.

Please note, there is NO direct link to provide. The advertisement for this offer appears underneath your FarmVille Farm home page once you access FarmVille on FaceBook.

Will you participate in this sponsored link? If so, did the free farm cash work for you? Who is going to see Toy Story 3?

This article originally appeared on FarmVille Freak.

Friday, February 10, 2012

FarmVille Crafting Buildings start to appear in Farmers Market

After weeks of hearing about them, it looks like Crafting Buildings (formerly called 'Crafting Cottages') have finally started to roll out in FarmVille. You can locate your Crafting Building by opening your Farmer's Market or Market Stall. Once that's open, click on the Buy button (with the shopping bag logo), you will be able to see which bushels and goods are available for your crafting building.

There are several steps to creating goods in your new Crafting Building:

1. Turn your bushels into goods.
2. Make and sell goods to level up your Rrecipes.
3. Level up recipes to upgrade your Crafting Building.
4. Use your goods to trade for fuel, and later on, you'll be able to trade goods for special rewards.



FarmVille Farmers Market Crafting Buildings Using Goods

[Via FarmVille Freak]



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New Limited Edition New England Decorations: Marsh Pond, Rose Fence & White Lawn Chairs

    farmville rose fence     farmville white lawn chairs
New decorations hit the FarmVille Market as part of the brand new LE New England theme, Marsh Pond, Rose Fence and Lawn Chairs. These items will be available for the next 14 days and can be purchased for both FarmVille coins and cash.
farmville rose fence     farmville white lawn chairs     farmville marsh pond

    Marsh Pond, 300 Xp – 30 $FV
    Rose Fence, 100 Xp – 10,000 coins
    White Lawn Chairs, 200 Xp – 20,000 coins


This article originally appeared on FarmVille Freak.

Will you be stocking up on these new decorations? Send pics of your New England themed farms or decorations to editors@games.com and we may feature them here.