Social Gaming Roundup: IMVU, Lawsuits, Bungie, and More

IMVU Sees Significant Growth – IMVU, the online virtual world centered around teens announced that its “revenue continues its 100% year-on-year growth path” earlier this week. As of October of 2009, the company had already doubled its revenue from the same time in 2008 through virtual goods. It was seeing a $25 million annualized revenue run rate. The company says it is on track to do $40 million this year.

In addition to this, the future of the virtual world looks just as bright as the California-based company has also announced the hiring of David Fleck, former Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Second Life, as IMVU’s new Vice President of Marketing.

Second Life Also Grows – IMVU isn’t the only virtual world doing well as Linden Lab has also announced that its user-to-user transactions for March topped $57 million. Furthermore, user-to-user transactions for the quarter totaled a whopping $160 million – 30% higher than quarter one of last year. As far as users go, Second Life is reporting a peak of 826,000 unique monthly users in March; a number 13% higher than March of 2009.

Bungie on Social Networks and Mobile Platforms? – Bungie, creators of Halo, are teaming up with Activision-Blizzard to begin work on the developer’s next major game franchise. However, what is most curious is in an interview with VentureBeat, Bungie president Harold Ryan noted that the company is interested in more than just the core gaming platforms. According to the interview, the company is focused on fun, connecting players, and building communities. That in mind, they may be taking this new intellectual property beyond just core consoles to one or more of of the social platforms and genres, including the iPhone, iPad, Facebook, and MMOs.

AdMob Releases New Mobile Metrics – AdMob’s Mobile Metrics Report is out for March, and it focuses on the growth the growing Android mobile OS ecosystem. Evidently, 11 devices accounted for a staggering 96% of Android OS traffic; traffic that was made up from two devices back in September of last year. In terms of operating system versions, the majority of the traffic was still driven by Android 1.5, Android 2.0 and 2.1, and Android 1.6, garnering 38%, 35%, and 26% respectively.

Of course, the report would not be complete without iPhone data. As such, highlights include numbers regarding iPhone OS traffic as well. The 3GS made up 39% of the traffic, while the iPod Touch and 3G made up 25% and 20%. In total, the three devices made up 84% of total iPhone OS traffic. Furthermore, 3GS traffic was noted to have increased from its 30% number back in September, 2009.

SCORE:plug Offers New Services to Flash Web Games – Israeli company, SCORE:plug is offer a new means to help socialize Flash-based games on the web. Similar in concept to services like Heyzap and Kontagent, the company allows any destination site offering Flash games to make use of the service to power both leaderboards and social communities.

A little under half of its services are free, and namely consist of different types of leaderboards. However, for monthly fees, SCORE offers features such as a registration system, events, tournaments, personalized gamer pages, and a Facebook module to allow for friend challenging.

Flash Not Coming to Apple Any Time Soon – The lack of Flash support on Apple mobile devices has been an on going issue for game developers (well, anyone using Flash on the web, really). To resolve the issue, Adobe had been working on a means of bringing Flash users’ creations to the iPhone via a compiler to be built into the upcoming Creative Suite 5. Unfortunately, Adobe claims that their plans have been stopped cold by Apple deciding to, once again, rewrite its developer agreements, thus blocking software tools such as Flash. This was followed up by a blistering, controversial letter from Steve Jobs about Adobe. See Techmeme for the full story.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Apple has made such changes that hinder development in some way, be they for software, games, or apps. What makes the change sting even more, though, is that according to Flash Project Manager Mike Chambers’ blog, “during the entire development cycle of Flash CS5, the feature complied with Apple’s licensing terms.” Well, at least until noted changes were made.

CrowdStar Sues WonderHill – One of the leading social developers, CrowdStar is filing suit against WonderHill for plagiarism this week, over the latter company’s title, Aquarium Life. Though the game does play similarly to CrowdStar’s top app, Happy Aquarium, it is hardly the first social game to follow a popular concept. In fact, the aquarium game genre got its start in China, before CrowdStar launched its version.

However, VentureBeat reports the federal lawsuit accuses WonderHill of directly copying very specific features and animations such as a “distinctive mating dance to a backdrop of hearts and romantic music.” Other claims include the deliberate copying of CrowdStar’s user interface for their 19.6 million MAU title, something that CrowdStar Chairman Peter Relan notes as unacceptable and stating that “it’s almost like you’re staring at our game.”

Playdom Cans Lil Green Patch – Way back in late 2008, Green Patch’s Lil Green Patch garden simulator Facebook app was the top game on Facebook. However, this week, roughly six months after Green Patch’s acquisition by Playdom, the title is going the way of the dodo. Along with the the app, Lil Eco Racer, and Lil Blue Cove will also be gone.  Of the Lil series, only Lil Farm Life will remain. As we noted back in November, the remaining app was and is intended as a direct move against Zynga’s FarmVille and the truckload of other farming apps that also exist.

Moblyng Adds Mobsters to Their Mob – In other Playdom-related news: the cross-platform mobile game publisher Moblyng announced today that social game developer Playdom is its latest partner. What does this mean exactly? In a nutshell, Moblyng is capable of republishing a game across multiple smartphone platforms such as the iPhone, Android, and Palm’s WebOS. As such, Playdom titles such as Mobsters will soon be available on various mobile platforms including, but not limited to WebOS, Symbian, BlackBerry, and Android.

Japanese Company DeNA Releases Annual Financial Results – The Japan-based entertainment company DeNA announced its financial results for both the quarter and the fiscal year today (for the period ending March 31, 2010). In short, the company’s fourth quarter revenue saw an 81% increase over the previous year (2008) with a revenue total of $205 million. As for the year of 2009, in total, reported revenues tallied $517 million – 20% higher than 2008.

Of course, regarding the upcoming year, DeNA plans to grow even further by launching a PC-based social gaming platform with Yahoo! Japan. Furthermore, DeNA is also planning on launching a social gaming platform in English-speaking countries as well as develop social games for Facebook and other similar platforms.

Publish date: April 30, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT