Social Gaming Roundup: Zynga Stock, Heyzap, Offerpal, PETA and More

Zynga May Limit Private-Market Employee Stock Sales – It’s no secret that Zynga has grown to tremendous numbers in terms of sheer size and success. However, CEO Mark Pincus states that the company may begin limiting its employees’ private stock sales. “I worry about someone buying my stock,” he says, “and I worry what they’re told at the point that they’re buying my stock.” Facebook’s stock has been traded in the same manner, and the company recently implemented a policy to preclude the practice, citing legal risks. Zynga stock is also popular with investors. It was just reported to be on a $450 million revenue run rate for this year. Its stock has been traded on private exchanges like SecondMarket.

Heyzap Launches Social Bar – Using only one line of code, web publishers will now be able to integrate online gaming platform Heyzap‘s latest creation, the Social Bar. Intended to create better user experiences by removing cumbersome widgets, the Social Bar will act as a minimalistic toolbar that sits at the bottom of the browser window. Of course, while it is smaller, it still includes all of the normal features, such as notifications or virtual goods, that both web publishers and players alike are familiar with.

Offerpal Launches Display Ad Network for Social Media – Monetization solutions provider for social networks and virtual worlds Offerpal Media, announced the launch of a new display advertising network this week. The new addition lets developers of social games, networks, and virtual worlds better target their specific audiences through new methods such as videos, branded goods, and offers. Furthermore, the new display advertising, in addition to Offerpal’s prior services, enables developers to monetize 100% of their traffic, all while making use of the company’s existing optimization engine and compliance processes (as they apply to relevant social platforms).

PETA Fights Mafia Wars Update- Earlier this week, the long-popular social RPG, Mafia Wars added an entire new category to character arsenals. In addition to weapons, armor, and vehicles, they will now get deadly animals. To name a few, pit bulls, lions, tigers, and other deadly creatures will be part of the new upgrade. Unfortunately… Zynga CEO, Mark Pincus received a letter from PETA attempting to get the developer to cancel the new update.

Apparently, using a picture of a pit bull in a text-based RPG about mafias can lead to real-world abuse: “Depicting ‘man’s best friend’ as a fighting machine can encourage the wrong type of people—those with no heart and no understanding of a dog’s needs—to treat these wonderful animals as inanimate objects,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “If Mark Pincus—who named his company after his own beloved dog, Zinga—can’t portray dogs as loyal and loving members of the family, we’d rather he left them out of the game altogether.”

Just a thought, but hasn’t the game been depicting violence, theft, extortion, and a laundry list of other crimes against other human beings for the past few years? So far, we haven’t seen any players start up an actual crime syndicate either, at least that they didn’t have running already.

FarmVille Going Mobile? – In another Zynga-related story, FarmVille will be spreading to the iPhone,  iPad and Android, soon. Superogatory spotted some rather interesting Zynga domain registrations including,,, and Obviously, these assumptions play off the existing stand-alone site of These aren’t the most elegant domains, though, so maybe the company is just trying to preclude squatters?

PlayStation Home and Xbox Live Users Get New Virtual Goods – Looks like users for both the Sony and Microsoft consoles are getting some new goodies this week. For PlayStation Home users, Final Fantasy XIII avatar items, costumes, and virtual spaces have finally come to North America. All have been available in Japan since last year, according to Kotaku, but now Western fans can virtually cosplay as Lighting or Snow with the best of them.

As for Xbox Live users, they’re getting a taste of Street Fighter IV. Now, fans of the classic fighting game will be able to dress up as their favorite Capcom combatants, starting with Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and Ibuki.

News Corp. Acquires Irata Labs – In the past, Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer for News Corp. has noted that online games have been a missing part of the company’s online presence. Well, to remedy the issue, the company has acquired Irata Labs, the developer behind the Twitter-based game, Spymaster. The three-person developer will not be directly used for either News Corp.’s MySpace network, nor game review site, IGN. According to the Los Angeles Times, Irata is “expected to work with those divisions whenever it makes sense, said a person familiar with the matter.”

History Channel Indirectly Improves Foursquare – Location-based game Foursquare — now with over one million users — has always been an interesting app, but one of its features is that whenever you are in an area where another user has left a “Tip,” you’ll get a notification to read it. Well, the History Channel has begun to make use of this mechanic by leaving tips around historic areas within the United States. Since it’s the History Channel, the tips consist of an interesting blurb about whatever historic happening occurred at your current location should a tip have been left by them.

Linden Lab Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Virtual Goods – In the past year there have been a growing number of court cases across the globe reinforcing the tangible value of virtual goods. The most recent however, is a class action lawsuit being raised against Liden Lab regarding apparent misrepresentations of the value and ownership of virtual goods and currency. The plaintiffs include Carl Evans, Donald Spencer, Valerie Spencer, and Cindy Carter – all Second Life users. Their suit notes their complaint as, basically, a failure to “define the rights of the purchasers of virtual property in Second Life, monetary damages, and injunctive relief on behalf of Plaintiffs, and others similarly situated.”

Based on the full write up from Massively, Linden Lab had repeatedly noted how virtual items and land were owned by the users, not the company. And Linden Dollars, the game’s virtual currency, was no less or more valid than any other. But Linden Lab as been… “quietly” changing its tune on this matter as far as its Terms of Service go, and strategically inserting terms such as “limited licenses” into the documentation in an attempt to make itself the owner of all things in the virtual world, according to the report. This appears to alter users’ title “without consideration, the consumer’s knowledge or consent.”

Publish date: April 23, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT