Tag Archive: entertainment

zynga poker

Zynga is giving up what many investors had hoped might be its trump card: a real-money gaming business in the U.S. The company, which has been testing out real-money casino games in the U.K., said it won’t be pursuing a U.S. license after all in its second quarter earnings report today.

Sources tell us this is a decision to focus and not spread the company too thinly between real-money gaming, diversifying onto mobile and maintaining a core on Facebook. If it weren’t for the political and legal complexities of opening up real-money gaming in state after state, the business could have been interesting for Zynga, especially considering how long Zynga Poker has dominated both on the Facebook platform and on iOS and Android. None of Zynga’s social casino games, which use virtual currency, are affected by this. Shares declined 13 percent in after-hours to $3.02.

In the release today, Zynga said:

Zynga believes its biggest opportunity is to focus on free to play social games. While the Company continues to evaluate its real money gaming products in the United Kingdom test, Zynga is making the focused choice not to pursue a license for real money gaming in the United States. Zynga will continue to evaluate all of its priorities against the growing market opportunity in free, social gaming, including social casino offerings.

Zynga has long been exploring real-money gaming. It partnered with operator Bwin.Party to offer titles in the U.K. Then last November, the company took its first steps toward real-money gaming in the U.S. by applying for a “preliminary finding of suitability” from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

It’s not that this option is forever off the table. It’s just that the company is in the middle of a significant platform transition now, and real-money games – which would probably only be available to players in Nevada at first anyways – could be distracting.


Jimmy Pitaro

Jimmy Pitaro

Earlier today, Disney said what is likely not much of a shock to anyone – that it was handing over the reins of its interactive division to one of its two co-presidents, Jimmy Pitaro.

That means John Pleasants, who was the other co-president and was located in Silicon Valley, is leaving the kingdom, merging the games and media units under one leader in Los Angeles. Pleasants, as happens in these kinds of things, will be a strategic consultant to Disney Interactive.

The reorganization of the unit comes three years after Pitaro, a former Yahoo media exec, and Pleasants, who came to Disney via its acquisition of Playdom, were paired. Disney Interactive recently reported its second quarterly profit of $16 million on sales of $396 million, in what has been an uphill effort over the past decade for the entertainment giant.

Under the regime of former CEO Michael Eisner – many digital moons ago and which I covered since I am so dang old – Disney bought search engine Infoseek and tried to create a portal called Go.com. That failed, and was one of many efforts to define the media company’s Web goals. More recently, in 2008, Disney gathered most of its Internet properties under Steve Wadsworth.

Then came the pairing of Pitaro and Pleasants. And now, just Pitaro.

Disney said it “will move forward with a singular strategy for driving revenue and advertising across key platforms and franchises,” such as Disney Infinity – a big Pleasants project – and Club Penguin.

Welcome back to my gaming reviews as I try out some of the best new iOS games! This week’s roundup includes: 1. ShaqDown, in which basketball-superman Shaq puts a smack down on post-apocalyptic zombies 2. Top Bot, the fun, socially adept racer, which takes advantage of “time-shifted” racing, and 3. After Burner: Climax,  SEGA’s brand new, fast-paced airplane shooter.

1. Shaqdown 

Siva's Game Reviews: ShaqDown

ShaqDown is a zombie game unlike any other. After all, how many zombie games can claim to have one of the NBA’s most recognizable superstars in the role of a post-apocalyptic, Zombie smashing superhero? ShaqDown is a fun, animated romp through a world where zombie-mutants have taken over the world and it’s up to Shaq to set things right. You control the man as he bowls over the undead with his charging tactics and uses his magical basketball to blast the zombie hordes while shouting “Free Throw!”

Siva's Game Reviews: ShaqDown

ShaqDown is a lighthearted, endless runner style game suitable for both young and old gamers. The violence is mild and non-graphic, and gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward, though the boss mutants do pose quite the challenge! This campy game is available in the App Store now, for only $1. It’s certainly a worthwhile game to check out for fans of basketball, zombies, and endless runner fans alike!


2. Top Bot

Siva's Game Reviews: Top Bot

You may not have heard of time-shifted racing yet as it’s a relatively new technology. Time-shifted racing allows you to race against friends and opponents seemingly in real-time, even if you’re not racing one another at the same time. So while I may be a night owl, completing my laps at 3 a.m., you may not get to your laps in until the next day at 6 p.m. Yet you’ll see us interacting in the same race, at the same time. Pretty neat!

Siva's Game Reviews: Top Bot

When the popular racing game Real Racing 3 lights up the App Store at the end of February, I bet people will become more familiar with the concept. But a lesser known game already has arrived, which is not only a lot of fun, but also gives you the same multiplayer capability to race against other gamers in time-shifted, asynchronous “real-time.”

Top Bot is an animated racing game that is super easy to get the hang of, with controls that are both simple and intuitive. However, depending who you’re racing against, it can be a very challenging game to win (I never won and I used to think I was halfway decent at racing games!). You control your customizable “bot” as it speeds through the course, made up of tunnels and numerous obstacles, with various power-ups and boosts scattered throughout.

Siva's Game Reviews: Top Bot

Siva's Game Reviews: Top Bot

Of course, your goal is to win, but Top Bot also introduces a heavily social element to this racer. It allows you to not only compete directly against friends and acquaintances (aka: “frenemies”), but also to do a little trash talking via in-game chat, to make things that much more interesting. Top Bot is an original game, one of the first time-shifted racers to become available in the App Store and it’s a game that’s suitable for most ages. Available for free in the App Store, I’d highly recommend you check it out to get a taste of the latest in modern racing gameplay.


3. SEGA’s After Burner: Climax

Siva's Game Reviews: After Burner Climax

Siva's Game Reviews: After Burner Climax

SEGA’s latest game to hit the App Store is a thrilling and frenetic combination of endless flyer and high-flying aerial combat. Once you make it through the brief tutorial, it’s game on as you maneuver through wave after wave of progressively challenging combat flight. Hooya! This is a good one!

Siva's Game Reviews: After Burner Climax

You’ll find yourself in intense, high-speed dogfights over cities and seas, as well as in narrow canyons and perilous tunnels. This game will hone your reflexes while keeping your fingers tapping away furiously at your touchscreen as you fight to stay alive in this exhilarating hybrid game. Available for $3 in the App Store, After Burner: Climax is an addictive game that will definitely appeal to fans of endless running games and also the high-flying, aerial combat genre.



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