Welcome to the Virtual Goods News Wrap-Up for the week of July 24, 2010. The Wrap-Up is where VGN spotlights stories that we didn't get to cover individually, but still make for interesting reading about the virtual goods industry.

  • 500 Million Stories: Facebook has officially announced that it has over 500 million users worldwide.
  • Age Of Conan Goes F2P In Korea, Morrison Talks NA Conversion: The Korean version of Funcom's Age of Conan will be a free-to-play game, but it sounds like Funcom isn't interested in making Age of Conan free-to-play in the US. 
  • Crowdflower Labor-On-Demand Releases API, Partners With TrialPay: Labor-on-demand provider Crowdflower is now working with ad offer network TrialPay, which is one of the two official ad offer providers for Facebook Credits. Crowdflower is also releasing an API that lets potentially any developer make crowdsourced tasks part of an application. Crowdflower is currently working on ways to integrate with Facebook Credits directly.
  • Cultural Exchange: Western Devs Enter Japanese Social Gaming Market – Japanese Enter Facebook: Japanese and Western developers are taking interest in each other's social game markets, despite the differences between them (Western users stick to Facebook while Japanese users are divided between three different networks accessed primarily on mobile phones). Japanese users are increasingly getting interested in Facebook, which may create more opportunities for social game developers.
  • Disney About To Acquire Playdom: TechCrunch says that it's heard Disney is in negotiations to acquire Playdom from numerous sources, including sources close to Playdom. Such an acquisition could lead to Playdom developing social games built around the numerous brand IP that Disney controls. 
  • Gold Farming Research Digs Up Similarities With Drug Dealers: A University of Minnesota student has published a study suggesting that grey market RMT organizations are organized and operate along the same lines as drug dealers.
  • MindJolt's DeWolfe Explains Plans For A Rollup In Social Games: MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe is now the CEO of MindJolt Games. He wants to develop MindJolt into a distribution network for games by numerous developers, with support for virtual goods. MindJolt is on Facebook for now but intends to expand to MySpace, Yahoo, MSN, and Google. 
  • Oberon Launches Casual/Social Game Distribution Platform: Oberon Media has launched Blaze, a new distribution system for social games, casual games, and mobile games that will reach about 50 million users. The platform is carried on about 150 partner sites. 
  • Playdom CEO John Pleasants: Why "Social Gaming" Will Die: Playdom CEO John Pleasants talks about his company's current strategy of growth through acquisition. He compares the current state of social gaming to the early days of Web-based email, iTunes, and the Nintendo Wii. He expects to see the console portion of the overall market fall to less than 50% in the near future. He does expect traditional game publishers to adapt to online. Unlike WildTangent, Playdom wants to have its own internal developers. He expects to see major brands push into social gaming in the second half of this year. He believes Playdom may at some point in the future grow larger than any of its competitors. He believes the total number of people who plays games is growing. He also expects the Western market for online games to go from $1 billion to $4 to $5 billion within the next four to five years. 
  • Playfirst Brings Chocolatier To Facebook: Playfirst has extended its extremely popular casual game series Chocolatier to Facebook with a new social game. Playfirst says this is because the demographic for social gaming is much the same as the demographic that made Chocolatier into a hit, older women. 
  • Wooga Becomes Fourth Large Developer To Use Facebook Credits Exclusively: German social game developer Wooga has become the fourth to commit to exclusive use of Facebook Credits as the cash-based virtual currency in all of its games. Facebook Credits will be the first form of monetization to appear in Wooga's games. Wooga CEO Jens Begemenn says that Credits work better than most other options when deeply integrated into gameplay.

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