After a lovely week amidst the natural wonder and hungry mosquitos of Ontario's Algonquin region, I'm back and ready to scoop the gossipy goodness out of the game industry's innards once again. Bear with me, my metaphor production line appears to be a bit rusty.
Zynga Gets Zinged
Even for those of us who don't play Facebook games, "social" gaming giant Zynga is difficult to ignore. FarmVille and the like took off as millions of bored office workers and stay-at-home parents flocked to Facebook for entertainment. Zynga people have been buzzing around the game industry like well-fed, self-satisfied bees for the past few years, bragging about all the money Zynga is making and holding talks at the Game Developer's Conference about how innovation is bad.
For gamers who aren't fans of Zynga's clone-and-polish development philosophy, it's hard not to feel a bit smug about the news that not all is well in ZyngaVille. The company has made some rather expensive acquisitions (like of Draw Something developer OMGPOP) that haven't panned out, and it's having trouble growing its user base as people turn away from Facebook or discover newer, shinier things to play. Zynga has had to lower its earnings outlook for 2012, and its stock has taken a beating.
Speaking of the stock taking a beating, it seems that several of Zynga's top executives and investors unloaded a bunch of Zynga stock in April when it was selling for $12 a share—just before the value collapsed to its current price of $3 a share. Several law firms are now investigating whether insider trading was at play, with one firm having already filed a class action lawsuit in California against various Zynga executives, investors, and Wall Street underwriters. Sounds like things are a wee bit unpleasant in Zynga's executive halls right now.
UPlay Closes a Backdoor, Opens Controversy
Word got out earlier this week that there was a frightening security hole in Ubisoft's UPlay infrastructure. Part online infrastructure, part anti-piracy measure, UPlay is installed along with quite a few Ubisoft games for PC. One thing UPlay installs is a browser plugin, and that plugin is what hackers discovered could allow any website to install a program on somebody's PC, possibly gaining remote control over the entire machine. Not good.