1）社交游戏开发商Crowdstar日前宣布通过英特尔投资、Time Warner Investments、中国在线游戏公司九城在首轮融资中筹得2300万美元资金。据该公司所称，Crowdstar将用这笔资金扩大公司团队规模，拓展Facebook平台之外的社交游戏业务，在中国、日本和韩国等地的非Facebook社交平台立足。
Crowdstar首席执行官Peter Relan表示，在Facebook的7亿多用户中，Crowdstar游戏大约可吸引2亿用户，但全球智能手机用户却高达20亿，他们有意进军这一领域，挖掘其中的市场潜力。该公司最近刚聘请了Glu Mobile前首席技术官和全球产品开发高级副总裁Alex Galvagni，意在借此开启Crowdstar的手机游戏市场大门。Peter Relan称九城公司也是手机社交游戏平台OpenFeint的投资者之一，Crowdstar将与九城携手开拓中国市场。他称自己并不认为社交游戏领域已经充满泡沫，称Zynga、Facebook或LinkedIn等公司仍有无数发展前景。
2）EA首席执行官John Riccitiello最近在加州大学伯克利分校商学院的毕业典礼上发表演讲，谈到了他在过去30多年中与EA同渡时艰的经历和感想。他称自己也曾跌跤，但已从失败中汲取教训并总结经验，推动EA从掌机游戏领域的失败中恢复元气，发行了《质量效应》和《死亡空间》等大作。EA在2009年收购了社交游戏开发商Playfish，EA Playfish目前每月用户达3270万，但与Zynga游戏的2.48亿月活跃用户相比仍有一段距离。而且Zynga目前的估值也超过了EA，达到100亿美元，EA的多员猛将也相继出走，流向了Zynga等其他社交游戏公司。
3）Social Gold首席执行官Vikas Gupta曾根据终身价值（LTV）划分出了五种在线游戏用户类型（游戏邦注：Social Gold的这项数据分析结果公布于2010年的虚拟商品论坛，其假设前提是每个用户的最大在线生命周期是6个月）：
而Playdom推出的新晋热门游戏《Gardens of Time》而高居榜首，由MetroGames开发的《Auto Hustle》也同样跻身前十强，目前排在第九名。本周表现最出人意料的是Playfish旗下的旧款农场游戏《Country Story》，该游戏在2009年秋季就已经在Facebook前20强游戏排行榜消声匿迹，但本周的MAU却又突然明显上升，目前MAU达170万，但与其2009年高峰期的830万MAU仍有较大差距。
5）据Edy公司的Facebook官方页面消息显示，该公司将携手Zynga游戏《FarmVille》，推出与Green Giant和7-Eleve去年相似的品牌营销活动。但两家公司尚未公布这项名为Edy’s Fruit Bars活动的具体细节，目前仅知道双方将向玩家派送总数为50万的Farm Cash，该活动将于6月1日正式开幕。每个游戏玩家最多可赢取1000张Farm Cash（奖励数目从每人50张至1000张Farm Cash）。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
1）Interview: Crowdstar Raises $23M Toward Growth Efforts From Major Investors
by Leigh Alexander
Interview: Crowdstar Raises $23M Toward Growth Efforts From Major Investors
Social game developer Crowdstar (It Girl, Happy Aquarium) is starting to think beyond Facebook, and has just raised $23 million from Intel Capital, Time Warner Investments and Chinese online game firm The9 to help reach its goals.
The funding round is a first for Crowdstar. Since its 2008 founding, the company has been funded by its own operating profits, which it says saw an all-time high in the first quarter of 2011.
Currently employing 100, the company says the primary purpose of the investment funds is to help it grow.
Crowdstar CEO Peter Relan tells Gamasutra that the company hopes to double its headcount with a view of going global and multiplatform. “I think 2011 marks for us the year we’re transitioning from being a Facebook game company to a broader multiplatform social gaming company,” he says. “So we’re not just going to be doing Facebook games. We’re going to develop onto mobile and, in the longer term, smart televisions as well.”
Also part of the plan is a shift to focus on those countries where Facebook isn’t present or isn’t the primary social network, like China, Japan and Korea. “We’re looking at markets even bigger than Facebook now,” says Relan. Of Facebook’s 700 million users, Relan estimates Crowdstar has captured about 200 million. Yet there are, for example, 2 billion smartphone users globally to be addressed, and the company wants to aim for those too.
“We’re looking at big markets, and I think we need to invest in that,” Relan says.
The company recently hired Alex Galvagni, formerly the CTO and Global Product Development SVP at Glu Mobile, as its new head of studios. “He has the experience to grow and scale our business,” Relan adds. Partnering with The9, one of the main investors in the funding round, will also help, as the companies have had a working relationship before.
“If you recall, The9 was an investor in OpenFeint, and we launched OpenFeint in China with their help,” says Relan. “So assume that The9 and Crowdstar will be working together to address the Chinese market.”
We asked Relan for his thoughts on the viewpoint among some industry-watchers that the social gaming space is over-valued, or is in a bubble cycle that will precede a steep decline. “I think that unlike previous bubbles, this time the companies’ revenue and profits are very tangible,” he says. “Zynga, Facebook or LinkedIn have real money flowing through them.”
But Relan says that while there might, in fact, be some slight overvaluation in the sector, the bigger problem is that front-runner Zynga has grown so quickly that it’s created challenges. “It’s hard to meet those kinds of growth goals, where you are just growing 1000 percent or whatever year over year for the next three or four years. I do see that as a problem if they don’t grow into that valuation. But I don’t see it collapsing; it just needs to be adjusted.”
Crowdstar is still “very small and young” relative to Zynga, on the other hand: “I don’t see us running into a ceiling of that kind in the near future,” Relan says. “We tend to double or triple our growth year over year, and that’s, at our level I think, very possible to do for the next five years.”（source:gamasutra）
3）EA CEO John Riccitiello to UC Berkeley graduates: ‘Fail well’
by Joe Osborne
Way to set the tone for these kids’ careers, buddy. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello told recent graduates of The University of California at Berkeley to ‘fail well’ at the Haas School of Business commencement ceremony, VentureBeat reports. The Berkeley alumnus of 30 years revealed how he has dealt with the setbacks EA has experienced over the past few years. Not to mention his many attempts at remaining relevant in an industry that’s changing more rapidly than ever.
“I’ve had first-hand experience with failure, and I have had the opportunity to learn and recover from it,” Riccitiello said. EA has made leaps and bounds to recover its losses in the console games industry, publishing mega hits like Mass Effect and Dead Space. However, its time in the social games world has been another story entirely.
Since EA bought Playfish in 2009 for what’s now said to be about $563 million (and plenty of layoffs to cover the costs), it has rocketed to second place in the developer leader boards–an extremely distant second to Zynga. EA Playfish enjoys 32.7 million monthly players, while the FarmVille-pushing freak of financial nature welcomes a massive 248 million players monthly, according to AppData. All the while, Zynga has somehow become more valuable than the nearly 30-year-old industry veteran at $10 billion, and several EA bigwigs have left the company for both Zynga and other social game companies.
That all being said, we can understand the tone of Riccitiellos’ commencement speech. However, the EA chief remained optimistic, pointing to failures-turned-success stories like one-time US president Harry S. Truman and Steve Jobs. He then pointed out that EA has learned from being on the wrong side of change a few years back, and is now working on a new strategy.
“I would argue we failed well,” Riccitiello said. “We are students of our own failure. We used our failure to shape and impel us to a better strategy. One that we believe that will ultimately succeed in ways that our previous strategy, even if perfectly executed, could never have done….Trust me. Sooner or later, you’re going to get knocked on your ass. Will you fold? Or will you fail well?” When it comes to EA in the social games business, we’ve yet to see the end result.（source:games）
3）What’s the lifetime value of a social game player?
The Virtual Goods Forum over the past two days has been packed full of useful statistics. The most useful came from Vikas Gupta, CEO of Social Gold, and I’ve embedded it below.
The key takeaways are that not all users are created equal. Social Gold has defined its users into five categories:
Kings: Have a lifetime value (LTV) of over $1,000)
Lords: Loyal repeat users who have a lifetime value of $250
Knights: Spend meaningful in the first month only, LTV of $47
Commoners: make only one purchase, LTV of $12
Peasants: never spend any money
(A note on methodology: Social Gold did a cohort analysis taking everyone who signed up for any of the games that Social Gold serves in a two month period and worked up the lifetime value in the next four months. So for the purposes of this analysis, the maximum life time of a consumer was six months, which means that the figures are likely to be on the low side).
There are a number of key points:
A Lord (a loyal repeat user) is worth 20x the value of a Commoner who only makes one game purchase. But once you have persuaded someone to make one purchase, it is generally easier to make them pay up again. What are you doing to convert Commoners into Lords?
A King is worth 20x the value of a Knight, yet a knight has already made multiple purchases. What are you doing to help your Knights become Kings. （source:gamesbrief）
4）GagaVille Pushes FarmVille Toward the Top of This Week’s List of Fastest-Growing Facebook Games by MAU
By AJ Glasser
FarmVille pops into this week’s list of fastest-growing Facebook games by monthly active users on the heels of a massive Lady Gaga promotion for the singer’s newest album. Looks like CityVille also got a lift, according to our traffic tracking service, AppData.
Moving on down the list, we’re still seeing significant growth out of MetroGames’ Auto Hustle a little over a month after the game’s official launch. Zombie Lane and Bubble Saga keep things going as well, and as you may have noticed, Gardens of Time isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
A somewhat surprising appearance on our list this week is Playfish’s Country Story, an older farm sim game that last appeared on our growth charts in fall of 2009 just after its summer launch within the same year. The game puts players in the role of a farmer responsible for tending land and livestock with food and caretaker activities. We’re not exactly sure what’s caused the game’s sudden spike in MAU this week, although we’re aware that a recent update introduced celebrity animal boxes that players can earn for free if they successfully solicit help from 10 friends. At 1.7 million MAU, Country Story still has a ways to go to return its 2009 levels of 8.3 million MAU.（source: insidesocialgames）
5）Edy’s Fruit Bars to partner with Zynga’s FarmVille in 500,000 Farm Cash giveaway
by Brandy Shaul
Over on Edy’s official Facebook fan page, the company has added a new tab that has many FarmVille farmers talking (even those at FVNation). Similar to the Green Giant or 7-Eleven events from last year, that saw players leaving their computers long enough to buy products in the real world containing redeemable codes, it looks as though this summer’s promotion will be with “Edy’s Fruit Bars.”
While we still don’t know everything about this promotion, we do know that the two companies have paired to give away 500,000 Farm Cash in total. If we’d like a “share of the bounty,” well need to come back to Edy’s fan page after June 1 (presumably when the promotion officially launches), and learn more. Apparently, farmers will have a chance at winning at most 1,000 Farm Cash each (prizes range from 50 Farm Cash to 1,000 Farm Cash per person), but again, specific details about what will happen in stores isn’t yet known. （source:games）