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PG.biz week that was: Zynga and Gamevil post record sales, Rovio heads into space and Apple heads for 25 billion downloads

The past seven days' news compressed bite-sized
Product: PocketGamer.biz | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, PG.Biz, iPad, 3DS, PS Vita, Kindle
PocketGamer.biz Multiformat, thumbnail 1
It was a rare week in the UK for PG.biz: the home of news and views on the business of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

Of course, we really should have been in space, celebrating the announcement of Angry Birds Space, which was strangely revealed by Yahoo!

Rovio will be launching the game with NASA and National Geographic, thereby putting an educational spin on the game, which will see you flinging birds in zero-gravity, amongst other things.

The news wasn't good for all Finnish developers, however, as Habbo publisher Sulake said it would be sacking between 40 - 60 staff as it moves from an internal development model into a more game-based, open platform approach.

US publisher Glu Mobile hired 200 developers during 2011. We spoke to CEO Niccolo De Masi, who said he was confident about the future, thanks to the company beating its guidance, burning less cash than expected and leading the mobile gaming charge on Android,

On the up

Korea is hotspot for the mobile industry, and this week its biggest publisher Gamevil announced another set of record numbers; FY11 sales were up 39 percent year-on-year to $36.7 million.

Zynga posted its first post-IPO financials. Mobile daily active users were up to 15 million, while overall revenue (mainly from Facebook, of course) was up 91 percent to $1.14 billion.

However, the company's reputation has taken a beating from the alleged copying of NimbleBit's Tiny Tower for its Dream Height. When it launched, many fans downloaded the game just to give it a bad review and award it the lowest 1 star rating.

Another outfit having to deal with social strategy is Gameloft.

Following backlash from its hardcore fans, it's considering how to appeal to both audiences, with a first step mooted to be setting up a new casual Facebook presence. This will allow it to better communicate which games are for which type of player as it moves towards a more IAP-focused future.

All about money

Crowdfunding is a hot topic at the moment, thanks to Tim Schafer's efforts, but Kickstarter's not the only funding opportunity. New outfit Gambitious is planning an equity-based marketplace.

And, there are plenty of other monetisation options once your games are released.

We spoke to Pepe Agell from cross-promotional network Chartboost about its success, generating one billion 'happy' impressions, while US location-based CloudMade is rolling out its Sponsored Locations platform soon.

We spoke to VP Christian Petersen about its plans to drive massive retail footfall through IAP sponsorship.

Then, checking out what's going on in the social mobile space, LucasArts veterans announced multiplayer platform Suddenly Social for iOS.

We also caught up with Heyzap co-founder Jude Gomila about the technology which seems to be replacing OpenFeint in terms of providing social glue for cross-platform indies.

'Mobage and GREE aren't even in our ball park', Gomila told us.

A longterm player in this area is GameSpy, which has been offering multiplayer and online services to PC and console developers for over a decade. It's now heavily supporting indies - especially on mobile.

We spoke to VP Todd Northcutt about the company's Open initiative, which is evolving its online gaming services for iOS and Android via Unity and Unreal Engine. We got predictive too, talking about the possibilities for mobile-console gaming interoperability.

Stewed apples

With the Apple App Store heading to 25 billion downloads, research from App Annie suggests that Norway is the most lucrative territory in terms of average price per download - 37c compared to 4c for China.

There's still plenty of disquiet about the use of scammed iTunes accounts, notably in China, with publisher CocoaChina claiming that Chinese App Store scammers are costing studios as much as 30 percent of their IAP revenue.

No doubt Apple is working hard to deal with the issue. It's certainly providing plenty of advice to developers on other subjects. It's promised to protect iOS users' contact data in future OS update, following the news some apps were taking this without users' permission.

Apple's also highlighted the issue of UDIDs, something it said it would redact with iOS 5. It's now telling developers to use other means of identity tracking, partly - it's thought - because of these increasing security scares on the App Store.

In other Apple news, it's slashed iAd campaign pricing to a minimum of $100,000 (it launched at $1 million) as platform's mobile ad share fails to compete with other networks, while increasing the interoperability of between iOS and Mac OS X, bringing features such as Game Center and push notifications into the Mountain Lion update.

Corporate movement

On the Android front, Google has now got EU approval for its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola, and Sony completed its $1.4 billion buy-out of Ericsson from the Sony Ericsson joint venture, creating Sony Mobile Communications.

Samsung announced the Ice Cream Sandwich-equipped 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 would be shipping in March, while HTC is rumoured to be working on PlayStation Certified handsets for mid 2012.

Alternative Android app store AppChina raised $6.4 million in round A funding, and Nvidia saw FY12 revenue up 13 percent to $4 billion.

There was good news (of a sort) on the tablet front too, with the news from IHS that Android-based Kindle Fire and Nook Color took 11 percent of the tablet market share in 2011.

It's also rumoured by the China Times that Amazon will release a 10-inch Kindle Fire in Q2 2012.

PlayBook back in play

Things seem to be looking up for RIM too - well, they surely couldn't get any worse. Its share of the Canadian tablet market share has apparently risen to 15 percent, with Apple's falling to 68 percent.

RIM will also extended its free PlayBook for Android app submission program to 2 March. It's already gained 6,600 new developers and 1,500 Android apps. This will be publicly available when the PlayBook OS 2.0 is released on 21 February.

Another company looking to step up its activity is Sony, which will launch its PS Vita this week.

On the back of a $50 million marketing campaign, in the US, it's announced that many of its digital games will launch below £10 as it looks to what it called 'perception-based pricing'.

Not quite so aggressive in the sector, Nintendo has finally released the first piece of downloadable content for the 3DS's eShop. It's adds picture framing features and is only available in the Japan.

But let's end our round up with a quick breakdown of news from industry shows

Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 19 February 2012
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