Playfish

David Gelles

How do you say “Farmville” in Japanese?

Zynga, maker of the popular social game, wants to find out.

To do so, the San Francisco company is entering into a joint venture with Softbank to develop and distribute games in Japan. As part of the deal, Softbank is investing $150m in Zynga, and will help launch the new business unit, Zynga Japan, in Tokyo.

Details of the partnership are scarce, but it will be interesting to see how Zynga’s games go over in Japan, a difficult market for foreign companies to crack. The deal also brings social gaming, which originated in Asian markets, full circle.  Read more

David Gelles

Ever since Facebook first rolled out its own virtual currency, developers have wondered if, when, and how the company would start encouraging the use of Credits across its enormous platform.

The answer is becoming clear, and the time is now. Facebook wants developers to start using Credits in a big way as it works to build a system similar to Apple’s iTunes, where users make lots of small purchases with a credit card kept on file.

Developers are taking the cue. CrowdStar, one of the most successful social gaming companies, just announced it will use Credits as its exclusive in-game currency for at least the next five years. Read more

David Gelles

Everyone is happy on the farm. That’s the message from Zynga and Facebook, which just announced a “five-year strategic relationship.”

For two companies attached at the hip, that may sound like stating the obvious. Zynga makes social games like Farmville that are played by hundreds of millions of users on Facebook’s platform, and in turn spends lots and lots of money advertising on Facebook.

But the announcement comes after weeks of speculation that Zynga was growing fed up with Facebook, and might even be considering leaving the platform. Read more

David Gelles

Zynga, the largest social gaming company, has raised an additional $15m in funding, in yet another sign that this nascent industry has quickly become big business in the Valley.

The San Francisco company, which operates games on Facebook, MySpace, and Apple devices, has attracted nearly 200m monthly users to its games. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Facebook appears to be moving closer to cashing in on the social gaming phenomenon it has created on its platform and, judging by the numbers being quoted at the second annual Social Gaming Summit, that can’t come soon enough.

In a session on Tuesday featuring executives from leading social-gaming publishers, John Pleasants, the new chief executive of Playdom, revealed its Sorority Life game received feedback from users this month asking for cars as virtual goods, with a pink Volkswagen in particular receiving strong support. Playdom came up with the goods and sold $100,000 worth of virtual VWs in two days. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google has boosted its console cred with gamers and pushed itself as a platform for developers with an announcement of new gaming features at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

In a launch event on the fringes of GDC, Google introduced new gaming design themes for its iGoogle personalised home page and demonstrated how it could rival Facebook and other social networks as a casual gaming platform. Read more