Social Gaming Roundup: Tencent, Nintendo, Dinosaurs, and More

TencentTencent Brings in $1.8 Billion in 2009 – When it comes to virtual goods transactions, China’s Tencent is one of the company’s making the most money: the internet media company reports an impressive $1.8 billion in revenue for 2009, a 74% increase over last year. Kai Lukoff has a good analysis over at Venturebeat. Comparively, we’ve reported that Facebook is between $600 and $700 million.

Composed of multiple services such as QQ Messenger, QQ Show, QQ Game, and so on, the network offers free and exclusive virtual goods for each one. However, these services require a “diamond membership” of different colors. Only by having that color membership, – $1.50 a month, for one – do users get the goods for its corresponding service. Currently, around 10% of Tencent’s active user base pays for them. Furthermore, over 75% of their revenue stems from such “internet value-added services.” Services with a noted 94% growth rate in 2009.

Zynga Recruits Steven Chiang - Yet another veteran from the colossal gaming studio, Electronic Arts, makes his way into social gaming. This time, it is veteran EA exectutive, Steven Chiang, as he joins social developer Zynga as president of the company’s social development studios. Among other changes, co-founder and Executive Vice President of Sales and Business, Andrew Trader, recently left the company.

UltimatePayPlaySpan Partners with Changyou – Monetization services company PlaySpan has a new partner, Changyou.com. Offering popular MMOs such as Dragon Oath, Changyou will provide its users in the United States, Europe, and Malaysia purchase options for virtual goods using PlaySpan’s UltimatePay method.

93% BiggerNintendo Dabbles in Social Games – While Microsoft and Sony have been adding social elements to their consoles for some time now, Nintendo has rarely expressed any real interest in the space. However, their frequent boasts about an 93% bigger screen size on their upcoming portable device, DSi XL, has led to an amusing Facebook application, aptly dubbed “93%.”

Essentially, it is nothing more than a poll that lists funny objects and asks which ones users would like to see 93% larger. However, Nintendo has recently stated that it plans to “significantly boost the social fun of portable gaming.” Unfortunately, their definition of social gaming seems to merely be crowding around one screen, but perhaps that outlook will shift with the release of two “social games,” America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking and WariorWare: D.I.Y. which will allow multiple participants and the sharing of mini-games respectively.

Nival GroupRussian Company, Nival Network gets $7 Million in Investments – This past week, Nival Network raised a hefty $7 million in funding from DST (a former Facebook and Zynga investor), 1C Company, and Sergey Orlovskiy, Quintura reports. The company is the developer and operator behind Russia’s top online gaming and social networking portal, ZZima.com and provides both free-to-play online games (developed, published, and operated by Nival Network) and as well as massively multiplayer online games such as Dragonica, Shaiya: Light and Darkness, and Cabal Online. Such services are available throughout Russia and other former Soviet countries.

Live Gamer Partners with Kount – Payment solutions provider Live Gamer announced Friday that it has partnered with a company called Kount. The latter company specializes in “card-not-present” fraud control. Though details are not completely clear, the two companies have stated that Kount”s fraud protection tools, such as device fingerprinting and proxy piercing, will be integrated into Live Gamer’s element platform.

T-Rex MountFree Realms & 7-11 Promote Virtual Currency with Dinosaurs – Sony Online Entertainment, creator of MMOs such as Everquest and Everquest II, is offering a free virtual dinosaur (a T-rex, to be exact) mount for players in its title, Free Realms. The catch? They will need to purchase $10 worth of the developer’s universal virtual currency, Station Cash, at brick and mortar 7-11 locations. The special promotion will last until April 19th, and membership is not a requirement.

As a lesser note, customers will also receive a free green hat for their virtual pet dog in Free Realms as well. Of course, if they don’t have one, they’ll still have the $10 in Station Cash to buy one.

Chinese Consumers Spend $5 Billion on Virtual Goods – Last week, Gamasutra outlined consumer spending in the MMO market. Long story short, U.S. consumers spent 15 times more than Europeans, tallying in at $3.8 billion in total for 2009. However, this total is for all MMO spending, not merely virtual goods, which we had estimated to be just over $1 billion last year. However, that number is dwarfed as CNN reports that Chinese consumers have spent well over $5 billion in virtual goods for 2009.

Considering that many Chinese citizens are reported to have “limited disposable income,” the total may be a bit of a shock. However, the business model for virtual goods transactions is primarily centered around $1 to $2 transactions, further proving how lucrative these small, impulsive purchases can be.

Apple Now Accepting iPad Developer Applications – The company is looking for developers to build early applications on its soon-to-launch iPad device. Applications due on March 27. TechCrunch has more.

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