Ronnie05's Blog

Social Gaming beyond Facebook!

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on October 29, 2010

In 2009, an estimated $2.2 billion in virtual goods were sold to consumers globally, and that number is expected to rocket to over $6 billion by 2013.Social games not only represent a lucrative new revenue channel for social media sites but they also signal a fundamental change in the structure of the social media industry. Social networks can no longer afford to rely solely on advertising revenue—they must master the intricacies of directly monetizing their users via virtual currency, virtual goods, and social games.

Social gaming got its start in mid-2007 with the launch of the Facebook Platform. Facebook has grown from 27 million unique monthly visitors to over 500 million unique monthly visitors, and over 70% of those visitors engage with applications every month. Last year, social games, one of the most popular forms of social application, generated over $500 million in revenue — the majority of which came from social games on Facebook.

Although Facebook holds the dominant position in the social networking industry, the site makes up less than 30% of worldwide unique visitors to social networks. There are nearly 40 social networks with over 10 million monthly uniques and nearly 150 with over 1 million monthly uniques. The companies that make up the “other 70%” of social networking traffic are just beginning to realize the engagement and monetization benefits of social games. Some sites have made social gaming a central part of their strategy and are seeing significant growth despite the fact that more and more users are still being drawn to Facebook.

When it comes to social games, smaller social networks, paradoxically, often have the benefit of size. Users of multiple social networks tend to split their time between Facebook and another social network. To these users, Facebook is an indispensable communication tool, but the other social network is essentially the local pub.Social games are the perfect addition to these communities. They provide a lightweight, social form of entertainment that enriches the interaction of a site’s users. As a result, social games on smaller social networks often meet or exceed the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) observed on Facebook. And, unlike advertising, which detracts from the social experience of a site, a successful social games strategy will simultaneously increase a site’s stickiness and significantly increase revenue.

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Zynga: The advent of social Gaming

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on September 28, 2010

Zynga is to Social gaming what Google and Facebook are to Search and Social networking. In partnership with Facebook, Zynga has metamorphosed into the largest internet social gaming platform. Facebook and Zynga have a symbiotic relationship. While Facebook provides Zynga the scale in terms of its 500 million account holders, Zynga provides the stickiness to Facebook usage. Together, Facebook and Zynga are now instrumental in staging out the first global virtual currency, the Facebook Credits. Zynga, based in San Francisco, is the largest maker of games on Facebook, and is expected to record revenue of as much as $500 million this year, according to Inside Network. Zynga has more than 200 million monthly active users, with between 1 percent and 3 percent paying for virtual items.

In a Tech Crunch event, Disrupt, Internet Evangelist and Investor, Bing Gordon, who founded gaming giant Electronic Arts prior to joining KPCB, recalled what made him think that Zynga would be a massive success. Gordon said that, years ago, he anticipated that there would be four disruptive trends in the game industry: social, analytics, an “APIable Internet” (app economy), and new payment methods. But he’d previously thought of each of these as separate entities, not something that would be combined into a single company. Then he saw what Mark Pincus was onto with Zynga — which he says combined these “four disruptions in one”.

Mark Pincus, CEO Zynga, in the same event, stated that Zynga is still far from being an Internet treasure, at least in the way he defines one. The way he defines an internet treasure is about adding a new meaning to the “daily grind” of the lives of the users. I suspect if that be the statement, Pincus has more on his mind then just the farming games to “add a new meaning to the daily grind of the lives of the users”.

As of Today, Zynga is a part of a new concept that is starting to take wings: Virtal Goods. The U.S. virtual-goods market may grow more than 30 percent in 2011 as games on consoles and mobile devices replicate the success of applications on Facebook Inc. The market will jump to $2.1 billion next year from $1.6 billion in 2010 and $1.1 billion in 2009, as quoted by Inside Network. Companies such as Nintendo and Ngcomo are following suit after Zynga added the new dimension to virtual goods on social games. The objective is to get more and more engaged users into paying for virtual goods. Social Gaming now accounts 40% of the virtual goods market with Zynga, Electronic Arts and Walt Disney Co making up half of the social gaming market for next year.

Online Gaming In India
Online gaming in India is rapidly expanding. Forty one percent of active Internet users played online games in 2008, up 89 percent from the previous year, according to the Internet & Mobile Association of India. With more than 81 million Internet users, India is projected to become the third largest online market behind China and the U.S. by 2013.

Social Gaming: Big Business on Mobiles

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on July 5, 2010

With the advent of 3G services, Social Gaming is at its “point of inflection”.

Game developers in India are looking at mobile phones as a new platform to launch new games as successful 3G bidding and arrival of smartphones are beginning to give social gaming a much needed fillip. The other factor that enhances social gaming as a market has been the reducing cost of ownership of smartphones. Demographically, 70% of the social gamers are Males and most of them in the 15-24 years bracket.

The social gaming market worldwide is estimated at $60 million, of which the mobile gaming market is registering a 45% CAGR. Globally, Gaming is expected to become a billion dollar industry by 2012. In India the social gaming industry is still in nascent stages but is expected to multiply 6 times in the next 3 years to Rs.1,500 crore which would contribute nearly 13% of the overall mobile VAS market in the country. Currently, the mobile gaming market is 3% of the mobile VAS market in the country. This growth will be possible as 3G rollout will push the current 5 crore social gaming active users by 300% to 20 crore active gamers.

The big names in the business are all launching their Mobile social networking gaming platforms:
1.ibibo.com is planning to make all its games available on the mobile network
2.Aircel and Airtel are pushing social and mobile gaming as means to drive their GPRS/online traffic
3.Gaming is one of the big categories in the Ovi mobile store
4.ADAG has also launched Jumpgames to tap into mobile social gaming network
5.Indiatimes launched a mobile game based on the movie I hate love stories
6.Zapak is also in talks with mobile operators for specific mobile gaming
7.Contents2win has launched a Mahabharata based soccer game.

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XBox Kinect: Real Time Motion Gaming Dawns (Part II)

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on June 22, 2010

Here’s how this genie works (courtesy Paul Miller):

“Kinect combines a few detection mechanisms to build up a rather accurate and comprehensive amount of 3D data on what’s going on inside a room. There’s a color camera for taking pictures, recognizing faces, and so forth, but the real magic happens with the monochrome CMOS camera sensor that’s paired up with an IR blaster. Microsoft calls this its “depth sensor,” and the light and shadow of that image (lit by the human eye-invisible IR spectrum) is analyzed to build a 3D map of the objects within Kinect’s field of view. Finally, there’s a multi-array microphone setup to detect location of voices and to cancel out ambient noise, allowing for video chats without a headset. All of this sits atop a motorized tilting base of sorts, which when used in conjunction with skeletal and facial tracking, Kinect can pan and tilt to keep its sensors trained on you as you move around the room. One down side of the motorized base, however, along with the rest of the fairly complicated electronics, is that the Kinect hardware isn’t tiny: it’s about a hand’s width tall, about as deep, and around a foot wide. When you think about it, the entire Wii occupies less cubic real estate. It shouldn’t have much trouble squeezing in up in front of your LCD TV, but good luck trying to balance it on top, and we have no idea how folks who hang their TVs on the wall should approach this situation.

One thing that Microsoft has actually left out of Kinect is a dedicated processor. The original plan was purportedly to have the Kinect pull its own load, allowing the Xbox 360’s processors to run free in rendering games. In the interest of cost, however, the processor got cut and now the Xbox is taking a 10-15% processor hit. Reports are conflicting as to whether or not that’s going to impact the sort of games that make it onto the system, but either way it pretty much rules out retrofitting older games for a new Kinect control scheme.

There are divergent reports on lag, but 100-150ms seems to be around where Kinect is playing (Sony claims a 22ms lag for PlayStation Move). During that time the system is tracking and processing 48 skeleton points in 3D space, watching up to two people, and repeating the process at around 30 fps.”

Kinect will be bundled along with the Xbox 360 and while the Xbox 360 has a tag of $199, the Kinect bundles will cost $399 for elite and $299 for arcade.

Microsoft has wowed the journos and analysts alike with the experience of real games, real gameplay, and real hardware, and a very real desire to get hands on with this new technology. The wait is set and we have a date with the Kinect, this 4th November 2010.

XBox Kinect: Real Time Motion Gaming Dawns (Part I)

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on June 21, 2010

Microsoft Project Natal finally sees the light of the day November 4th 2010 and it has a new name: Kinect. This is a part of the overall Microsoft strategy to use Natural motions as user interfaces.

The strange alien shaped machine which will be bundled along with the New Xbox 360 has not been named yet. The device specializes in Motion Gaming (which is what Natal was all about) with a dual/multi player capability, three dimensional approximation, Voice control mechanism, Social networking Apps: Twitter, Facebook, Zune and Netflix and a Video Chat App. Click here for more details of the games, device and user experience.

The interface is kept simple: You wave your hand to control a glowing cursor of sorts, and you push forward to “click” on the element you want.

Quoting Paul Miller on the Kinect Lite:
“In some ways, it’s pretty charming, with fun, jazzed up icons (when you hover over them they tilt and show off depth), a simplistic layout, and some great voice controls. The downside is this all comes at the cost of a brand new, fairly redundant interface for accessing functions that are already available with your Xbox 360 controller in the regular Dashboard. Still, there’s no denying the joy of waving a hand to log in, hovering over icons to select channels (though the wait-to-click mechanism strikes us as eventually frustrating), and scrubbing through media with very intuitive gestures.

Cloud Gaming: When Gaming meets the cloud

Posted in Gaming, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on June 17, 2010

Content Streaming, Music Streaming and if the trend at E3 is to be believed, the world is now headed to Game Streaming. We would call it “Cloud Gaming”

The Gigahertz Microprocessors and the iPads of the world along with Cloud computing could be unveiling the age of “cloud gaming”. Several companies hope using cloud computing to store games will be the real shift by letting gamers play high-end titles anywhere, on almost any machine. A view to “cloud gaming” is that If fully realized, they say, cloud gaming could be a console killer. The need and the idea is to make video game content increasingly free from the restrictions of device and location, while showcasing the ability to instantly play the latest, most advanced games at the touch of a button. Cloud gaming uses rapid data compression to let users store their games “in the cloud” — on Web servers — and then pull them down and play them using a regular Web browser. It’s the same concept as storing photos on a site such as Flickr or music videos on a MySpace page. The user doesn’t actually have those files on any one particular computer but can access them from anywhere. The only thing the user needs is a capable device, a decent browser and an a fast internet connection. The iPAD seems to be a good answer in terms of a capable device.


The Assasins Creed II finds a new home in the cloud

There are a few companies which are making early inroads into the area of “cloud gaming” and some interesting game titles such as Assassins Creed II, “Batman Arkhalam Asylum” and “Mass Effect II” have found new homes in the crowd and more are to follow. Revenues are to be made from subscription services, or pay per play or even in terms of trail gaming before buying the real monty from a store. Microsoft with its Xbox Live network, Sony with its Play Stationplus, Virgin, aggregators like Onlive and Gaikal are early entrants into this new gaming construct.


Batman: Arkhalam Asylum is another blockbuster to go to the cloud

However, not everyone in the tech community is sold just yet on the concept of “cloud gaming”. Some question whether gamers, who presumably already have at least one gaming console, will pony up again for the ability to play their favorite titles from the cloud.Even if it costs less to rent or play a game — and it probably will … Game streaming will have a tough time competing with actual hardware for all but the most dedicated gamers.

Interesting piece and we would be keeping an eye on that.

Gartner: A study in Mobile Gaming

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on May 18, 2010

Mobile gaming is Big… If the reports from the Apps store reports have to be believed. Gaming is one of the top 3 most downloaded applications from Apps stores: Be it Apple, Google, Ovi or the many others. Gartner estimates 70 percent to 80 percent of all mobile consumer applications downloaded are mobile games.

The mobile gaming industry grew by 19% YOY 2009-10 versus 2008-09 and Gartner redicts the growth to remain intact at 15% CAGR for the next half a decade. The mobile gaming market is expected to reach $11.4 dollars by end of 2014. While a majority of Apps downloads are games, 60 to 70% of downloads are “free”. This trend doesnot look like its going to change at least in the next 2-3 years.

According to Gartner , the factors that will be boosting the global popularity of mobile gaming include the following:
1.The increasing accessibility of mobile games in emerging markets, where alternative gaming media are limited.
2.Growing availability of micropayments for mobile gamers attracts users previously wary of investing larger amounts of money upfront to try out a game and also attracts groups whose disposable income is limited
3.Even with the popularity of the Apps stores,Gartner doesnot expect the ad-supported model to take off within the next three years – despite the success seen with this approach in the Japanese market
4.Improved user interfaces are a top priority for handset vendors as a competitive differentiator. A growing number of devices are implementing touchscreens and gesture, and enhanced qwerty keyboards will also improve the end-user experience.
5.An increasing number of games are taking advantage of existing device features, such as camera, GPS and accelerometers, to enhance game play.
6.Direct billing is one of the most significant value-adds that Content Service Providers can provide their partners – allowing consumers to charge purchases directly to their wireless bills.
7. Improvements to boost access to mobile games via search and recommendation engines are also improving take rates for mobile gaming, while more-competitive data pricing will lower barriers to adoption.
8.As more devices become connected, consumer electronic devices, such as tablets and portable gaming consoles, will join this space, adding another aspect to the market

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Microsoft Natal: Coming this June13th.

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on March 29, 2010

June 13th 2010:Will Microsoft Unveil the Natal on this day?

Of the three technologies that Microsoft is aggressively pursuing, Natal is intended to be the “Future of Gaming”. The others include Surface (The Future of Touch) and Microsoft’s Cloud computing efforts.

Microsoft is now readying for Xbox 360 Experience press conference at the E3 show in Los Angeles on June 13. I expect it to be the unveiling of the Natal powered new series of Xbox360. However, whether it’s a formal announcement or just another explanation of the technology won’t be known until then.

Natal, is Microsoft’s camera-based motion controller. In early demontrations, the technology has been extremely impressive, although no one quite knows how Natal will hold up in real-world gameplay in millions of different home gaming setups. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft said that the Natal technology would ship by the 2010 holiday season.

In The mean time, Rival Sony is decking the PlayStation Move, a combination of a Nintendo Wii-like nunchuk and the PlayStation Eye camera. I would have liked to see Sony integrate the FOLED technology on this one, but it looks like Sony has conserved that one as the next big story, the next big release.