About 50 of my Facebook friends play either FarmVille or Mafia Wars. I know this because I have been made aware in my Facebook Live Feed of every animal found or adversary attacked. Remember when no one knew how to turn the FarmVille/Mafia Wars announcements off? But I digress.
FarmVille/Mafia Wars developer Zynga (San Francisco) has been the talk of the virtual-gaming town lately as the money men are coming, this time all the way from Russia.
According to the New York Times, the Russian firm Digital Sky Technologies, while already investing $200 million in Facebook itself, has dropped an additional 180 large in Zynga with a combination of direct investment and stock purchases.
Now this is where I wonder if I am in the wrong business. Zynga is about to go public. With revenue about $250 million at the moment, it could command up to six times that in an IPO.
The Russians are, indeed, coming, and it looks as if they know what they are doing.
Halo = Never a reach
Like most, I tuned into the VGA awards on Spike to catch the new trailer for Halo:Reach, then changed the channel.
While the game focuses on a team of Spartans as they try to stem the onslaught of Covenant forces, the trailer gave few clues about how this title would play and feel, compared to other games in the franchise.
Well, little birds are singing everywhere now.
GameSpot has spoken with those who have seen the game in action and have described it as "Gears of War with Spartans."
Yup, one thing the GOW has always had over Halo is the grossness of futuristic combat. In other words, very prohibitive stuff for the kids. Leaking body fluid, severed limbs, stomped heads.
Could it be that Halo-developer Bungie is going raw? The books always have had just as much grit as any Gears of War game, so here's to hoping.
Sony still losing a wee bit
We all know that, in the beginning, Sony was taking a beating on manufacturing costs with the PS3. It started out losing hundreds with every PS3 made.
They have done a pretty incredible job getting those costs down (reports peg it at a 70 percent reduction), and with the introduction of the PS3 slim, it seemed obvious that the $299 price point was a reflection of that. So how much is Sony losing per PS3 now? About $36, according to iSuppli, an electronics market research firm.
The same company estimated that an initial 60-gig PS3 at launch, which goes for $599 at retail, costs $840 to make.
Sony (cough) possible monthly fee (cough)
To this day, if you visit game forums that happen to fall into the middle of the never-ending Xbox Live vs. Sony PSN debate, the biggest factor the PS3 fans use to justify superiority in the online-game-console fight is the lack of a subscription to play games. Xbox Live is still around $50 per year to play. While PSN isn't half as robust as Xbox Live, free is free.
Well, Sony has been mumbling about some new revenue stream that may include a similar sort of subscription in the future, citing the same costs that Microsoft has used since the beginning to justify its yearly fee.
"Servers and the like have running costs, and we would face difficulties if our business depended solely on the sell-and-forget model," Sony's CTO Masayuki Chatani said in an interview with Nikkei Japan.
Hmm, if they are looking for another dedicated revenue stream, I just don't see how they can get around charging. They've been pretty creative lately, so maybe they will be gentle.
Top-selling game systems for November
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360) 4.2 million units.
2. Wii Fit (Wii) 3.5 million.
3. Wii Sports Resort (Wii) 2.4 million.
4. Wii Mario Kart (Wii) 2.2 million.
5. Wii Play (Wii) 2.1 million.
6. Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360) 2 million.
7. Pokemon Platinum Version (Nintendo)
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3)
9. Madden NFL 10 (Xbox 360) 1.5 million.
10. New Super Mario Bros. (Wii) 1.4 million.
- Source: NPD Group