Welcome to the Virtual Goods News Wrap-Up for the week of August 21, 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.
- Android's Flash 10.1 Moves Out Of Beta: Flash 10.1 is finally out of beta and available on the Android Market, but only to owners of the Nexus One. Other handsets to receive Flash 10.1 soon are the HTC Incredible, Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola Milestone, Droid X, Droid, and Dell Streak.
- Are Foursquare Swarm Parties Cooler Than Facebook Cocktail Parties?: Foursquare's Swarm badge can only be earned if over 50 people check-in to a venue within a one-hour period, inspiring business owners to hold event parties to help people earn the badge while also self-promoting. Businesses holding Swarm parties in the US and UK typically report doubled business and strong word-of-mouth. Foursquare also features a Super Swarm badge that can only be earned with over 250 check-ins at a given venue in a single hour.
- Debating F2P Monetization: Fuzbi Manager and Principal David Edery muses on the reluctance traditional MMO publishers often experience when it comes to trying to monetize games through microtransaction sales of virtual goods. He concludes that games that sell wider arrays of goods will inevitably monetize better than games that sell only one or two types of goods, by serving the needs of a broader base of players. Edery argues that games which offer only a narrow selection of virtual goods, such as only cosmetic goods, are less likely to be successful.
- Fable: The Balverine Order Hitting October 5: The Fable III tie-in novel Fable: The Balverine Order, written by Peter David, shall ship with an item code that grants the purchaser an exclusive virtual good in Fable III when the game ships on October 26. A limited-edition Fable III Xbox 360 controller with a different exclusive item code pack-in also ships on that day. All that is known about the Balverine Order pack-in item is that it's some type of special weapon.
- Foursquare Experiences Record Signups After Launch Of Facebook Places: When Facebook Places was announced earlier this week, Foursquare broke its all-time record for most new user signups in a single day. Foursquare believes the new traffic is driven by all of the comparisons between Facebook Places and Foursquare's services in reports.
- Foursquare Has Been Trying (And Failing) To Trademark "Check-In": Foursquare filed a trademark claim for the term "check-in" in March of this year, a claim that the US Patent Office refused. Foursquare is also having difficulty successfully trademarking the company's name. The company has successfully trademarked the term "4sq."
- Free-To-Play Everquest 2 'Extended' Launches: SOE quietly rolled out the freemium version of Everquest 2 this week. Unlike Turbine's freemium conversions of its MMOs, Everquest 2 Extended uses completely different servers and user forums than the subscription version of Everquest 2.
- Outspark Coaxing Users To Pay Real Cash For Virtual Goods: A Bloomberg profile of freemium MMO portal Outspark discloses that a family of four once paid $35,000 for virtual goods in Outspark's games. The average paying Outspark user spends about $55 per month or about $400 over the lifetime of any particular game. Outspark expects to generate around $10 million in revenue this year and serve about 7 million registered users. Outspark founder Susan Choe describes getting the idea for the company after finding herself staying up late at nights to play online games about ten years ago and getting out her credit card to pay for items.
- Questionable Mafia Wars Marketing Under Investigation: The San Francisco City Attorney's Office is investigating alleged "illegal marketing tactics" used to help promote the new Mafia Wars: Las Vegas expansion. The promotion used fake money stickers that marketers attached to sidewalks, a plot that the Deputy City Attorney alleges is illegal.
- Shopkick iPhone App Lets Users Earn Facebook Credits For Walking Inside Businesses: Location-based shopping app Shopkick is running a promotion that lets users earn Facebook Credits when they enter particular real-world business and scan particular items. Shopkick's app relies on rewarding users with amounts of its virtual currency, called Kickbucks, to reward users who simply enter partner businesses like Best Buy. Users can also gain Kickbucks by coming within 500 feet of participating stores and checking in. Notably, Shopkick uses Facebook accounts for logging in. Shopkick's ability to scan items gives businesses an easy consumer behavior to incentivize through promotions and giveaways.
- Turning Social Into Games: Hi5 founder Alex St. John believes that big companies like Google have no hope of successfully competing in the social games space. He hopes to duplicate with Hi5 the success he enjoyed as former CEO of casual gaming giant WildTangent. His plan for Hi5 includes making it an entertainment hub where people using both real and assumed identities congregate to socialize over games. He expects Google to fail at creating a fun product and criticizes Zynga's games as bad. Right now Hi5 is primarily attracting smaller developers who don't have the money to compete on Facebook.
- Xbox Live Heading To Mobile Phones: Windows Phone 7 will feature a version of Xbox Live complete with all basic Xbox Live features, including Avatars and virtual goods support.
- Yep, Snoop Dogg Totally Blew Up A Truck For Zynga's Mafia Wars: Las Vegas: This week Zynga made good on its promise to blow up an armored truck once its new Mafia Wars: Las Vegas expansion had drawn 10 million visitors. Rap star Snoop Dogg presides over the armored truck's fiery destruction. Las Vegas is the fifth city in Mafia Wars and the fourth major expansion to the game.
Join us for App Conference – October 18-19, 2012 in Santa Clara