Mark Pincus, CEO of social game developers Zynga, appeared at the recent Fortune Brainstorm Tech summit in Aspen, Colorado, where he once again faced questions on the likelihood of Zynga entering the real-money gambling space. Pincus said the company was seriously exploring the idea, but said he hoped to advocate for something more “mass market consumer-oriented, and less toward hardcore style gambling,” whatever the hell that means. (That real-money white knight better arrive soon: Zynga stock is currently hovering around $4.61, not far off its all-time low of $4.45.)
Meanwhile, Zynga Poker remains the top Facebook app, boosting its monthly active user base by 1.2m to 33.3m, according to the most recent AppData charts. Zynga is also responsible for the only other social casino-style app in the top-20, with Zynga Slingo coming in at #15 with 11.5m users. Zynga is also pushing the tech envelope by adding a new feature for Zynga Poker’s mobile users on the Android platform. Using the wizardry of near field communications (NFC), an Android user can place their mobile device near another Android Beam-equipped device, tap the screen and (assuming the other person’s phone is unlocked) an invite will be sent to join your poker table. Because, you know, actually asking the person to join is so 20th-century.
Vancouver-based developer Las Vegas From Home (LVFH) Entertainment has launched a new Fast-Fold Poker game via its Real Vegas Casino brand on Facebook. With real-money online poker outfits releasing new Rush Poker clones seemingly every day now, it was only a matter of time before the social gamers got into the act. LVFH president/CEO Jake Kalpakian says his company’s “early mover advantage” in this sector will allow it to “outcompete other social casino applications.” Since Bwin.party put part of the blame for the recent poor performance of its poker operations on PokerStars’ fast-folding Zoom Poker, statements like the one above from LVFH could serve as a convenient out if Bwin.party’s fledgling social gaming division gets off to a slow start.
WMS Industries’ new online gaming subsidiary Williams Interactive isn’t wasting any time, announcing the launch of a Facebook social casino version of its real-money UK online gambling site JackpotParty. Williams president/CEO Orrin J. Edidin says the new social casino will feature six “player-popular, classic WMS slot games” to start, with more in the pipeline. The JackpotParty offering will complement WMS’ previous social casino entry, Lucky Cruise.
French startup Mandala has teamed with Hong Kong social gamers 6waves to publish social slots title La Riviera on Facebook. Mandala CEO Nadya Jahan, who claims to have been “raised with a joystick in my hands,” says the company is focused on bringing a “French touch” to social gaming. (Jahan may wish to tread carefully, as we believe “French touching’ is a felony in some southern US states.)
Merrywind Inc. and Korean developer Soribada Games have teamed up to launch Hotel Casino, a Facebook game that allows users to manage their own hotel/casino and play casino games against the house and with friends. Unlike MGM Resorts’ myVegas, which is based in the real Nevada jurisdiction, the Hotel Casino game takes place in the fictional metropolis of Merrywind. By attracting more players to your Hotel Casino, you earn VIP points that allow you to expand and upgrade your property. Frankly, we see a golden opportunity for someone to develop a social junket operator app to steer social high-rollers your way.