Yesterday Zynga announced the shocking news that it was closing its Zynga Dallas and Zynga With Friends studios. Prior to Zynga’s acquisition of these teams they were known as Bonfire Studios and NewToy respectively. It was not long ago back in February 2013 that Zynga’s Chief Operating Officer, David Ko announced that it was merging all of its Texas operations under a single office as part of cost cutting moves for the struggling company. Now it seems those cost cutting measures have gone even deeper resulting in the layoff of all staff from the studios formed by Ex Ensemble Studios members. Read more
Ex Ensembler’s Paul and David Bettner who set about forming the hugely successful mobile studio NewToy have confirmed that they have now left the mobile gaming giant, Zynga. Paul and David Bettner joined Zynga after NewToy was acquired in December 2010. Back then the brothers commented that joining Zynga made perfect sense as both parties “share the same dream of building a social treasure”. Since the acquisition the NewToy studio which was re-named “Zynga With Friends” have greatly expanded the “With Friends” series of games from the massively successful Words with Friends to including Hanging, Matching, and Gems with Friends. Read more
Earlier this week Zynga Dallas published the first trailer for their upcoming Facebook game adventure “Castleville”. The game follows Zynga’s existing “ville” series of games such as Farmville, Frontierville and Cityville. Looking at the below trailer it can clearly be seen the game will be taking forward similar game mechanics ans art style of previous games in the series. Lets take a look at that trailer now: Read more
Ok, so its been a while since the last update! Apologies for that! So what’s been happening lately? First off, the beta testing for Age of Empires Online has come to end. Microsoft and Gas Powered are now wrapping up the game with final touches before launching this August 16th. It wont be long now until eager Age fans get to play the next great game in the Age series which has sold over 20 million copies under Ensemble Studios. Luckily the bulk of the work on Age of Empires Online has come from prestigious ex Ensemblers at Robot Entertainment. Read more
Zynga’s “With Friends” studio, who used to be known as NewToy have just announced their latest game to hit the iOS market – “Hanging with Friends”. Taking the hugely popular “With Friends” series further, this new game is based around the traditional Hang Man game. One player is tasked with choosing a word while the other player has to guess the word by guessing which letters match the word. The player guessing only has a limited amount of guesses before the game is over and normally that player is hanged when the game is over. That’s not necessarily very positive so Zynga have brightened up the concept and made it feel a bit more positive – say hello to pretty colourful graphics! Read more
Wow we have a pretty big update from Ex-Ensemble formed studios today Friday 3rd June 2011, infact its so big we have three studios involved – Robot, Windstorm and Zynga With Friends. Incase your’re wondering the Zynga With Friends studio used to be called NewToy before they were acquired by the Zynga machine. The “With Friends” is a link to their previous titles, Words with friends and Chess with friends. Now that we know who we’re talking about lets delve straight into todays news! Read more
Bruce Shelley talks about the evolution of social gaming. Plus more AOE-O animations and Robot swag!
Recently the legendary Bruce Shelley has been in talks with Gamasutra along with Brian Reynolds another industry veteran about their roles at Zynga in the social gaming space. Brian Reynolds before joining Zynga worked at Big Huge Games which collaborated with Ensemble Studios on the Age of Empires 3 Asian Dynasties expansion. Bruce and Brian had also worked closely with each other in the past on Sid Meier’s civilisation games. Now they are both re-united again at Zynga where is has become clear that the company is hiring industry veterans to push their gaming business forward.
When talking to Gamasutra Bruce detailed how he was recommended to join after the company was looking for designers from the “Sid Meier School of Design” era. Read more
Just when you thought enough ex-Ensemblers have joined Zynga, a press release from the D.I.C.E Summit has revealed that Bruce Shelley is now acting as consultant for Zynga having recently finished a consulting role at UbiSoft studio, Blue Byte where he worked advising the team on the Settlers 7 game. It is currently not known what type of internal studio Bruce is working with at Zynga, however my guesses would be that he is working with Brian Reynolds on the FrontierVille game. Bruce had previously worked with Brian Reynolds at Microprose. Read more
Buyouts and Acquisitions – ngmoco acquired by DeNA and Zynga may have paid $6.3 million for Bonfire Studios
Shortly after Zynga acquired Bonfire Studios last week, Ngmoco the publisher of Bonfire’s We Farm game has also been acquired by DeNA a mobile and social games giant in Japan. DeNA is paying a huge $403 for ngmoco as reported by Gamasutra. This acquisition will enable DeNA to expand its market share from its Japanese region to cover the West as well with ngmoco’s titles according to the official press release as below: Read more