Bigpoint Reaches 300 Million Registered Users

Bigpoint announced that it has 300 million registered users across its 65 games. The company will celebrate the milestone with a sweepstakes where players can enter to win one of five sets of five real gold coins.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a rapid increase and unprecedented numbers in our titles. We want to celebrate our accomplishments and show our appreciation to our international community,” said Bigpoint founder Heiko Hubertz. “The strength and support of our players exemplifies how we’ve evolved in the F2P industry, and serves as further motivation to keep us driving innovation in browser games.”

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II – $1 Billion In Sales

Call of Duty: Black Ops II has sold $1 billion worth of copies in 15 days since launch. This bests the record of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which hit $1 billion worth of sales in 16 days.

“The release of Call of Duty has been one of the most significant entertainment events of each of the last six years,”said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. “Since Call of Duty was launched, cumulative franchise revenues from players around the world are greater than current worldwide box office receipts to date for the top-10 grossing films of 2012 combined. Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time.”

Black Ops II players have played more than 150 million hours online on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, or about 10 million hours per day since launch. By contrast, the first Black Ops saw online play of more than 600 million hours across all platforms during the same time period, averaging almost 14 million hours per day since that game’s release.

Zynga’s Steve Schreck, Roy Sehgal Depart

Reports are that Zynga vice president Roy Sehgal and general manager Steve Schreck are leaving the company. Sehgal, who joined Zynga in 2009, is resigning to take time off of work while Schreck is leaving to join a game start-up founded by Mike Verdu, who also worked for Zynga as CCO.

Seghal was responsible for the studio’s Cafe World title and was in charge of the casual and arcade games division. Schreck, general manager of around 100 employees in the company’s zCasual division, lead development on Hidden Chronicles and Slingo.

Source: Bloomberg.com

Obama Campaign Emails — Method To The Madness

Anyone who shared their email address with the Obama campaign received emails with subject lines like “Join me for dinner?” “It’s officially over,” “It doesn’t have to be this way,” or just “Wow.” This was playfully mocked by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and women’s website the Hairpin likened them to notes from a stalker.

The effectiveness of the emails cannot be underestimated, however, and most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. Now, the campaign is sharing some of the formula they used to raise the large amount.

“We did extensive A-B testing not just on the subject lines and the amount of money we would ask people for,” says Amelia Showalter, director of digital analytics, “but on the messages themselves and even the formatting.”

The campaign worked on multiple drafts, as many as 18, before deciding one to send out to millions. “When we saw something that really moved the dial, we would adopt it,” says Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign’s e-mail director, who oversaw a staff of 20 writers. “The subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your in-box from other people… ‘Hey’ was probably the best one we had over the duration.”

“We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” says Showalter. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate” buttons. Eventually we got to thinking, ‘How could we make things even less attractive?’ That’s how we arrived at the ugly yellow highlighting on the sections we wanted to draw people’s eye to.”

Even some mild cursing like “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare” got big clicks, but no formula lasted forever. “Eventually the novelty wore off, and we had to go back and retest,” says Showalter.

One thing the scads of emails showed were that unsubscribers were relatively rare. “At the end, we had 18 or 20 writers going at this stuff for as many hours a day as they could stay awake. The data didn’t show any negative consequences to sending more,” says Fallsgraff, who qualified, “We do know that getting all those e-mails in your in-box is at least mildly irritating to some people. Even my father would point that out to me.”

Source: BusinessWeek.com

Steam Big Picture Officially Launches

Valve has announced that Big Picture has seen a full and official release. This new mode is designed to allow users to play Steam games in a living room environment using a gamepad.

“To celebrate the public launch of Big Picture, over thirty controller-friendly games will be on sale from now until December 10, with savings up to 75 percent off,” announced Valve. “Access to the complete Steam store is included, as is the Steam Community. Big Picture is available worldwide in over twenty languages, including German, French, Russian, Korean, and Portuguese.”

“Gamers’ existing games are all available in Big Picture. In addition to having the complete library of Steam games, each user’s cloud files, Steam Workshop content, account information and preferences will be accessible automatically in the new mode,” Valve added. “Steam gamers may easily experience Big Picture on their televisions by connecting their PC or Mac, typically with a single HDMI cable. Big Picture also includes a new web browser designed for televisions and game controllers. It is accessible from anywhere within the Big Picture UI, and even while playing Steam games on a TV. It supports Big Picture’s new method of typing with a gamepad, which is useful for entering URLs, filling out forms, chatting, and other functions.”

Source: SteamPowered.com

Wooga CEO Talks Shifting From Facebook Mobile

While Wooga is the number three publisher on Facebook, it’s nonetheless looking to refocus on mobile. Wooga CEO Jens Begemann sees people shifting away from desktops in favor of smartphones and tablets.

“We have roughly 60 percent of our employees working on mobile, 40 percent on Canvas,” said Begemann. “We made this decision a year ago. A year ago we only had 10 people working on mobile. Now it’s over half of the 250-people company. We still see growth on Canvas and obviously it’s still bigger, but the growth on mobile is extremely fast. The PC will become less important, and with that the browser, and with that Canvas. But that’s really mid-term.”

“I think that people who are buying a tablet now, as a private person, won’t replace their laptop,” he added. “They will phase out their existing laptop and they will maybe upgrade in two years to the next generations of tablets. I think that’s what’s happening.”

Source: Gamasutra

Kickstarter Reports On First Month In The U.K.

Kickstarter released a report on the one month since it opened its projects to U.K. creators. The total pledges have exceeded £2 million ($3.3 million) from over 45,000 backers

“Of the 400 projects that have launched, 30 have already been successfully funded and many more are on their way. A public art project called the Chime Pavilion was the first successfully funded project, with triple its funding goal. The very first project to launch, a hardware project called Picade, was successfully funded with £74,000 pledged — double its funding goal,” posted Yancey Strickler and Fred Benenson. “Projects have launched from creators all across the UK, including Belfast, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hull, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, York, and other places in between.”

Source: Kickstarter.com

Zynga Signs Deal With Web TV Company

Zynga has signed a deal with the cloud TV company Synacor. This agreement will make Zynga’s games available to as many as 24 million U.S. households with web-based TVs from next year.

“Starting next year, Synacor’s customers will be able to offer their subscribers access to games from their homepages. Additionally, those providers will be able to include Zynga’s in-game currency as part of their subscription offerings. In other words, they can now bundle together TV + telephone + Internet + FarmVille Cash,” wrote Tricia Duryee. “Senator’s customers include a variety of providers, such as Verizon, CenturyLink, Broadstripe, Charter and US Cable, and claims to reach 24 million households in the U.S.”

Source: AllThingsD

Kabam Expands In China With Balanced Worlds

Kabam has announced that it has acquired Balanced Worlds. The Beijing company was founded by three Americans in 2006 and will see its 17 current employees relocated to Kabam’s Chinese facilities in Beijing’s Central Business District.

“The Balanced Worlds team brings a strong discipline and creative flare in 3D game development that will complement Kabam’s expanding portfolio of games,” said Kabam Studios president Andrew Sheppard.

“Our shared vision of high-quality core 3D mobile games is perfectly aligned,” added Pfeiffer. “The Balanced Worlds team is proud to become a highly productive part of Kabam’s amazingly successful mobile-focused studio in Beijing.”