Welcome to the Virtual Goods News Wrap-Up for the week of October 1, 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.
- Facebook Now Showing Credits Purchase History; Missing Balance Bugs Continue: Some Facebook users can now look at their Credits payment history. A bug that keeps Credits balances from displaying correctly in certain parts of the site interface continues to plague some users.
- Is Zynga's Head Count Higher Than Facebook's?: Facebook CTO Bret Taylor has stated that he now believes social game developer Zynga actually employs more people than Facebook itself. What's not clear is if this is because Zynga is growing too fast, or because Facebook prides itself on accomplishing as much as it can with small teams.
- Microsoft Begins Marketplace Points Giveaway: Players who spend $30 on digital content and virtual goods on Xbox Live in October will get an additional $10 worth of Microsoft Points free. Microsoft typically rewards Xbox Live spendings with free Points during promotions, this one tied to October's status as a major month for video game spending.
- Opinion: The Real Significance Behind Team Fortress 2's Virtual 'Mann Store': Valve updated its online multiplayer FPS Team Fortress 2 this week with a new cash item shop that lets players spend real money to purchase rare in-game items. This is the first Valve game to leverage the Steam Wallet system that allows in-game microtransactions in Steam games. If successful, the TF2 cash item shop could lead more online shooter developers to introduce similar cash item shops.
- Run With Robots Releases Roar Engine For Building Social Games: Run With Robots launched its Roar Engine this week, designed to help developers build and monetize cross-platform social and casual games. Like most middleware, it's designed to help developers focus on game content by letting them use third-party tools to solve technical issues.
- Something From Nothing: Nimblebit On How Free-To-Play Is Redefining The App Store: iPhone developer Nimblebit, which employs exactly two people, has released a game called Pocket Frogs that has been downloaded 1.25 million times and is one of the iPhone's top-grossing apps. Nimblebit's developers say that this proves that freemium is a valid business model for independent game developers. Nimblebit says it has no plans to grow as a developer, but instead to try and generate as much revenue as it possibly can as a two-man operation.
- Ubisoft Plans Ties Between Branded Social Games And Existing Properties: Ubisoft plans to launch social games that tie-in with four of its biggest game franchises: Assassin's Creed, CSI, Petz, and The Settlers. Ubisoft seems to want to get its biggest brands content onto Facebook and other social platforms ahead of competitors Playdom (backed by Disney) and Playfish (backed by Electronic Arts). Ubisoft operates several new IP social games on Facebook, like Vineyard Country and Party Central, but also operates many "stealth" games that it has yet to formally acknowledge.