Google Games Ramps Up, Zynga $US200 million Deal, Pac-Man Et Al, by Greg Tingle - 15th July 2010

Readers, punters, journalists, internet entrepreneurs, casino and gaming tycoons, and everyone else, major developments in the online gaming world as the battle continues for world domination, with our friends Google in the thick of the action... Media Man and Gambling911 probe the latest at Google, with game consul, toggle stick and computer mouse side by side as we explore the internet gaming super highway.

Readers will recall Richard Branson re entering the video gaming market last month with his Virgin Gaming. Around the same time Google brought the world arcade classic Pac-Man to the world via its home page, and its still a hit. Got to love the "insert coin" feature.

Years ago Google made headlines with 'Google Follows The Money Trail To Gambling', but was only just scratching the surface of things to come...

Last month Google's Pac-Man took the world by storm. Check out the Gambling911 story...

'Google Games Pac-Man "Wasted" 4.8 Million Hours'

Recently Australia's Foxtel did a deal with Microsoft X-Box, and now internet giant Google is investing bags of cash into social gaming via the web.

Google Invests $US200 Million In Zynga Social Gaming Network...

Google has reportedly invested some $US200 million in social gaming network Zynga, the company behind the the hit Farmville game, in another sign the online gaming sector continues to heat up.

The move follows Google bringing the Pac-Man classic arcade game to its Google browser a couple of months ago, which of course generated international headlines and massive participation by kids of all ages! Around the same time Richard Branson not content with his already impressive empire including Virgin Games inc Virgin Casino, launched Virgin Gaming, in a deal with World Gaming. Players compete in skill based games for cash and prizes. What will they think of next. Google's got its thinking cap on judging by insider reports and leaks.

The Google - Zynga deal comes just days after an Aussie entrepreneur got his iPhone game development studio picked up by Disney (parent of Marvel Entertainment these days). Got to love those Marvel slots. The deal is understood to be for hundreds of millions, but the exact amount would only be known to a handful of people like bean counters and legal eagles.

The move comes as Google is moving into the social gaming scene with the development of its Google Games network. Google also is ramping up things on its social network with the intent to compete with and ideally beat Facebook, who recently has yet another legal situation on its hands about ownership and stake holder type matters. Time to pounce Google and seize the day.

Technology news service TechCrunch is understood to have first broke the Google - Zynga story and reports that "multiple sources" advise Google has invested circa $US100-200 million in Zynga. VC raised is about $US500, and Z got $US180 million Russian "mob" Digital Sky Technologies, plus Tiger Global, Institutional Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.

Leaks and insiders state Zynga’s revenue for 2010 will be $US350 million, with 50% of that being operating profit. Revenue forecast for 2011 is estimated to be a massive $US1 billion.

The deal went though Google, not its Google Ventures, which one may mean the the investment is of massive importance to the company, and not just a "pet project" or "Throwing mud and walls and seeing what sticks", to quote a Media Man insider.

The Google Games network is set for launch late this year, plus the Google branded social network, yet to take on an official name.

Zynga was set up only 3 years ago by ultra entrepreneurs Mark Pincus, Michael Luxton, Eric Schiermeyer, Justin Waldron, Andrew Trader, and Steve Schoettler.

They make the bold claim to be the biggest social gaming network on the internet, and stars are apparently 1.3 million "daily active users".

The company earns revenue mainly through "in-game credits", which are bought through a commerce system using PayPal as the default payment option, but expect Google to get in on the action with a switch over in the near future.

Zynga sports dozens of games but Farmville has become the title with the greatest name value of late. Virtual farms, livestock, you name it. Moo! Bah. Woof!

The deal shows that social gaming and online and mobile apps are now big business and punters are lapping it up. Of course for some, online casinos where one can play for money are all the range, and the PartyCasino VS Virgin Casino war is well and truly alive and well, but Virgin Casino is yet to accept Australian players, so Party is king in that department, battling it out with the likes of PKR and Captain Cooks Casino, with Betfair and Centrebet set to offer more options for Aussies, and social networking is also on their radar.

So readers, the internet continues to offer an increasing amount of play for free or play for money options. Facebook, downloads, in browser games... the choice have never been greater.

Media Man research indicates that most gamers and gamblers are checking out numerous brands and gaming options, and that Google, Facebook, PartyGaming, Virgin and movie themed games are likely to keep dominating for the years to come. Established game titles like Cleopatra, Tomb Raider, Mission: Impossible, Thor, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Pac-Man and Rambo are set to become available in more options and to remain in the top 10 lists.

Gaming, Politics And Censorship In Australia...

Sen Conroy remarked "Some sections of the community have expressed concern about whether the range of material included in the RC category ... correctly reflects current community standards. As the government's mandatory ISP filtering policy is underpinned by the strength of our classification system, the legal obligation to commence mandatory ISP filtering will not be imposed until the review is completed."

As of time of publication many Aussie ISPs including Telstra Bigpond, Optus, and iPrimus - have pledged to block child-abuse websites voluntarily. The voluntary approach has long been advocated by internet gurus and experts, bringing Australia into step with other countries such as Britain.

Google, which has seemed to have been at war with Senator Conroy over the policy, advised it was "heartened" to see the government had taken into account "the genuine concerns expressed by many" on the RC category.

"While we're yet to see full details, a voluntary proposal by ISPs, limited to child abuse material, is consistent with the approach taken in many of Australia's peer countries worldwide," Google Australia managing director Karim Temsamani said. In addition, "Our primary concern has always been that the scope of the proposed filter is far too broad. It goes way beyond child sexual abuse material and would block access to important online information for all Australians."

Online Poker, Online Casino Games, Poker Babes?...

It's a wait and see situation as to what poker and gaming websites may get blocked. For the record, and some readers will know this already, both Media Man and Gambling911 are website portals, covering a range of sectors from gaming, gambling, poker, entertainment, technology and politics. Websites such as TMZ, The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald also cover gaming, gambling and sports betting, often having pro active advertising campaigns running and sometimes with editorials and Google advertising feeds and "sponsored links". The nature of the web is dynamic, so in theory website content, campaigns, links etc can be changed on almost a second by second basis. That makes for even more complex legal, technical and other aspects. Oh, Media Man has 10,000s of web pages cross dozens of websites and only probably has one set of tits...wrestling babes (and no private parts below), so MM is not an adult company either. Media Man is in fact in the Hitwise top ten (entertainment - personalities category), as has been for the past 7 years. MM also participates in dozens of affiliate programs across about a dozen business sectors, just one being gaming. Readers, get the point of how complex some of the elements are?

Wrap up...

Did you enjoy your internet gaming report? The "war" has just begun. Are you a web freak, a mobile games freak or a consul freak? Are you into slots, arcade games or both? Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pinball Wizard, Inside The Playboy Mansion, Tomb Raider or Cleopatra? Tell us in the forum. Punters, as always know the odds and keep it legal. Good punting, happy web surfing, play and party hard...have fun.

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*The writer is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of sectors they cover. They also offer political commentary and analysis and publish Media Man Games http://www.mediamangames.com

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