theEweekly Wrap: Draw Something, tax cuts and Matt Cutts
|Game over||The 2012 budget was unveiled by the Chancellor on Wednesday, including some very welcome tax breaks for the gaming industry. The aim is to make the UK the “technology centre of Europe” by introducing corporation tax relief for game developers in April 2013. Trade body Tiga has been campaigning for the move for several years; chief executive Richard Wilson said on Wednesday: “This victory will benefit not just the UK games development and digital publishing sector, but also the wider UK economy.”
The UK gaming industry is indeed very strong at the moment. The Electronic Retailers Association revealed yesterday that sales totalled £1.93bn in 2011, outstripping both DVDs and music, perhaps due in part to the huge success of Call of Duty and Skyrim. However, high street retailer Game Group doesn’t seem to be benefitting from the boom. The company filed for administration on Wednesday, putting 6,000 jobs in 600 UK stores at risk. It is thought that Game owes over £180 million, and several high profile suppliers have refused to do business with the company until the matter is resolved.
|SE-no||Google webspam wizard Matt Cutts has dropped hints that the search giant is working on a penalty for websites that have been “overly SEOed”. During a panel at the annual SXSW Interactive conference, Cutts said that Google engineers are currently working on a tweak to the algorithm that would penalise sites that “go well beyond what you normally expect”. The intention is to put sites with naturally great content on a “level playing field” with those that rely heavily on SEO, but especially to discourage sites from using black hat or spammy SEO techniques.
This is the latest move in Google’s long crusade against spam and low quality content; the biggest step so far was the introduction of the Panda algorithm update in 2011, where many sites with spammy, scraped or low quality content found their rankings dropping dramatically. It seems more than ever that quality and originality is vital; Cutts revealed that some of the things they’ll be looking out for are “too many keywords on a page” (known in the industry as ‘stuffing’) and “way too many links”.
|Buy Something||Social gaming giant Zynga has purchased the company that developed hit app of the moment Draw Something. The mobile app – a Pictionary-style guess the drawing game – has received over 35 million downloads since it was launched six weeks ago for iOS and Android. On Wednesday, New York based developer OMGPOP was acquired by Zynga for a reported $210 million (£133m) – a sum many feel is a little high for a company that has only produced one successful game in almost three years. However, the Financial Times suggested that it “echoes Zynga’s $53m purchase in late 2010 of the company behind Words with Friends” – it seems the gaming giant is buying any one-hit-wonders that could be a threat to its dominance.
Zynga’s David Ko told Mashable: “The game is a huge monster. People love the game — we’re just going to support the game”. Meanwhile, OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter revealed that Zynga will be helping to expand and develop the game, including the addition of a Chat feature and enabling social sharing. Despite the availability of a free app, many users have paid for the upgraded version, and purchased additional content, while there are also advertisements in the game – so with continued success, Draw Something’s high price tag might start making sense.